Why is ABC Hiding from the Public the Ugly Truth about the Treatment of Refugee Families?

The author of this post is Ana Fores Tamayo, and it is a somewhat edited version of what was was originally published on her blog Adjunct Justice on September 18 [http://adjunct-justice.blogspot.com/2015/09/why-is-abc-hiding-from-public-us-dirty.html].

 

When Pope Francis touches US soil, he will begin a whirlwind tour through the northeast corner of our vast country. So, he decided to hold a virtual audience with several parts of the country that he would not be able to visit during his brief sojourn here.

Via satellite then, he spoke with students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city; with the homeless and with those dedicated people who work with them in Los Angeles; and finally, with parishioners from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, many of whom have led the efforts to show that the refugee crisis in the United States is a humanitarian crisis, not a political issue to be exploited.

A one-hour special covering these papal visits by satellite was aired on ABC News 20/20 on Friday, September 4th, at 9 pm CST. Moreover, it has been posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.

When Pope Francis spoke about the poor, about the marginalized, and about the most needy, he could never have expected his words might be censored. Indeed, he probably has no idea about what was aired or cut from the show, as technically, his words were not abridged. Nevertheless, an entire segment of the English language version of the show was snipped—seemingly because it might embarrass the American government or the corporations managing its detention centers for undocumented immigrants.

Since the news show belongs to ABC, it must have felt it was within its judiciary right to delete those couple of crucial minutes, even if it were deleting events that occurred at the church in McAllen—events that hundreds of people experienced directly and that Pope Francis witnessed, too.

The idea of immigration and deportation, and how we are treating it as Americans, differs greatly when we look across the Atlantic. Interestingly, as people cry out scandalously at what Europeans might be doing, as they wag their fingers and tsk tsk the death of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi fleeing with his parents from Syria to a hate-filled Europe, we forget to see what we ourselves are carrying out at our own Southern border.

Because of these hyperbolic contrasts in perception between the Atlantic and our own country then, I admit I was shocked at what I did not see when I compared both English and Spanish versions of the supposedly same show.

The segment shown at the border to the Spanish-speaking population was not the same segment shown to the English-speaking audience. The English-language version was “sanitized”—with minutes 35-37 (approximately) in the Spanish version deleted from the English-speaking version.

I wonder, if someone wrote asking ABC to explain their reason why, would they be transparent about their true objectives?

Is it that the American public cannot take seeing a refugee mother in shackles with her blind child? Is it that the corporate operators of for-profit prisons who also operate many of the detention centers exerted their influence to have that segment cut when the journalist asked the Pope point blank what he thought of the monitor around the mother’s ankle? Or is it that this reality was just too controversial to show—that this is what the American government is now doing to all refugees coming in at the border—and it is not a pretty sight worthy of our eyes?

The worst insult is that it was not cut in the Spanish version, which means that it was all right for Latinos to see the segment—seemingly endorsed—as if it were a warning for us of things to come. Or perhaps the lack of editing in the Spanish-language version is simply an implicit acknowledgement that the Spanish-speaking public is too politically insignificant for them to be concerned about its sensibilities.

It chills me to the bone every time I think about the images that were cut from the English-language version of the news show. It chills me to the bone every time I consider any of the reasons why those cuts may have been made.

 

The English-language version of the segment is available at: http://abc.go.com/shows/2020/listing/2015-09/04-2020-090415-pope-francis-and-the-people

The Spanish-language version of the segment is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EeeHfMO3gY

 

 

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