Mike Pence calls CNN ‘dishonest’ for detention center coverage

Vice President Mike Pence pays a visit to the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas on July 12, 2019.
Vice President Mike Pence pays a visit to the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas on July 12, 2019. | Twitter/Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence slammed CNN as “dishonest” in its coverage of the migrant crisis at the nation’s southern border during a visit to a Texas facility for families and children as well as an overcrowded facility for adult men.

“CNN is so dishonest. Today we took reporters to a detention facility on the border for families and children and all told us they were being treated well,” began Pence in a thread discussing his Friday visit on Twitter.

“The crisis at our southern border is not a ‘manufactured crisis’, it is real and is overwhelming our system. To show this, we also visited an overcrowded facility for adult men, many of whom have been arrested multiple times. These men were in a temporary holding area because Democrats in Congress have refused to fund additional bed space,” Pence explained.

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Reacting to a CNN broadcast on his visit, Pence said the network failed to give their viewers the complete story.

“Rather than broadcast the full story, showing the compassionate care the American people are providing to vulnerable families, tonight CNN only played video of men in the temporary facility and didn’t play any footage of the family facility at all...ignoring the excellent care being provided to families and children. Our great @CBP agents deserve better and the American people deserve the whole story from CNN!” he said, sharing two photos from his visit to the family center.

Pence’s reaction to CNN’s coverage of his visit triggered the hashtag “Fake Christian” deriding the faith of the nation’s devout vice president.

Vice President Mike Pence and other officials at the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas on July 12, 2019.
Vice President Mike Pence and other officials at the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas on July 12, 2019. | Twitter/Mike Pence

Along with Senate Republicans and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Pence visited two facilities in the Rio Grande Valley: the Donna Processing Facility — which is temporarily housing families — and the McAllen Border Patrol Station, which houses single adults who have been found crossing into the United States illegally, CNN reported.

While Pence saw children and their parents lying on cots, watching animated movies and eating snacks in oversized, air-conditioned facilities in Donna, CNN reported that the McAllen facility was hot, overcrowded and had a stench of sweat. Migrants were also forced to sleep on concrete under Mylar blankets because there was no room for cots.

Pence told reporters during his visit that he was not surprised by what he saw.

"To be honest with you, I was not surprised by what we saw," he said. "This crisis is real, the time for action is now."

Last month as the migrant crisis increasingly captured headlines and sparked a dispute among evangelicals on how Christians should be responding, Pence argued in part that Democrats were to blame for the conditions at detention facilities.

He said the Trump administration had tried to negotiate “for more bed space” during the federal shutdown, but Democrats refused to expand those resources.

"Democrats in Congress refused to expand the bed space and the capacity for us to detain people at our borders," he said. "It is one of the reasons why we continue to call on Congress to give (the Department of Homeland Security), Customs and Border Protection additional resources at the border."

Shortly after that call, the House passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid package to care for thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, a large scale roundup of undocumented migrant families threatened by President Donald Trump to begin this past weekend did not materialize.

"The ACLU has not heard reports of any raids today," Ruthie Epstein, the American Civil Liberties Union's deputy director for immigration policy, told NPR Sunday as many migrant communities remained on edge.

Prior to the expected start of the immigration raids on Sunday, undocumented migrant advocates were urged to seek help in churches, mosques and synagogues by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who also asked faith leaders in Houston on Saturday to open their doors to migrants, the Texas Tribune reported.

“It is to my dismay that I have to come home to find many of those who live in my jurisdiction, my constituency, are panicked, frightened and in fear of their lives,” Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat, said. “I say to the federal authorities that you are well aware and on notice that you are not able to come into a church and demand anyone that is a representative of the faith to give anyone to anyone.”

The Living Water International Apostolic Ministries in Houston, where Lee made her call, had joined with some half a dozen other churches that they would provide shelter to undocumented immigrants who fear they are in danger of being taken by ICE.

“We want to be a beacon of light for those who may be in fear. So when I got the call, I couldn't do anything but accept,” apostle Robert Stearns, leader of Living Water, told the Tribune. “There is nothing strange to us in doing this. This is our heart and our passion.”

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