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MSNBC Plugs PBS Film Hitting Trump on Illegal Immigration

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog.

On Monday's Morning Joe, the MSNBC show devoted a segment to an upcoming documentary to air on the PBS show Frontline which will go after the Donald Trump administration over the zero tolerance party that resulted in illegal immigrant children being separated from their families until the practice was ended in June 2018.

As panel participants avoided using words like "illegal" or "undocumented," or even acknowledging that immigrants effected had cross the border without permission, the nine-minute segment also featured MSNBC Republican contributor Carlos Curbelo complaining that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions was "cruel" by implementing "shock and awe" against "immigrants," and Elise Jordan suggesting Trump voters who approved of the practice have something wrong with their "soul."

Host Brzezinski introduced the topic by recalling the latest count of how many children were separated from illegal immigrant parents during the zero tolerance period.

Over 1,200 children were likely separated from their parents at the Southwestern border before the Trump administration announced its zero tolerance immigration policy. The Courthouse News Service reports that Health and Human Services commander Jonathan White told a federal judge on Friday that he believes a final accounting will show at least 1,250 additional children separated from their parents before an injunction stopped the practice.

She added:

The disclosure is part of an ongoing class action lawsuit brought by the ACLU that has resulted in the reunification of children separations are likely to be confirmed by this Friday. That news comes as a new documentary investigating how Donald Trump turned the issue of immigration into a powerful weapon.

After Kirk was given a chance to preview his film, titled Zero Tolerance, which will air on Tuesday, the film maker began:

It's the origin story for how Donald Trump found himself using resentment over immigration as a political weapon, It's, from our point of view, and what we can tell, it's the -- maybe the essential element of his presidency in terms of where he's had his most impact. We follow the story of three completely outsized and on the edges people in Washington who got to the President -- got to the GOP, cracked it all open and used immigration as the way to do it.

When Curbelo got his first chance to speak, he griped:

During the last Congress, many of us urged the President -- this administration to actually try to solve immigration reform. If any President could have done it -- if any President could have brought the Republican base together on immigration, it would have been this President. Yet they decided to allow Jeff Sessions to launch this shock and awe campaign against immigrants, and this cruel policy of separating children at the border was the result.

A bit later, as Jordan posed her question, she sounded like she believed that the policy was still in effect even though it ended more than a year ago as she used the presence tense:

As a former Republican congressman, can you explain something to me. I am baffled how with the child separation policy, it seems like Groundhog Day. You heard congressmen and women. Every day, they say they hate the policy -- they don't want it. The Trump administration says they're changing it -- then, they say, "No, we're not really" -- they go back to it. Now, there's this reporting that there are over 1,000 children that were separated from their parents. Why can Congress not do anything about this terrible policy that no one.

The MSNBC Republican contributor then went after her fellow Republicans as she added: "And God buh -- I was about to say, 'God bless,' but I don't want to say, 'God bless,' but, you know, those people who do really need to examine their souls."

Nearing the end of the segment, New York Times reporter Nick Confessore misleadingly referred to President Trump suggesting shooting "caravan" members in the legs without specifying that such a strategy would have been targeted at rock throwers, who are capable of causing substantial injury to Border agents.

In 2018, we saw the Trump strategy on immigration as politics in full fledge -- threats to militarize the border which were carried out. We saw in my colleagues' book (Border Wars) that he had pondered asking DHS and soldiers to shoot people in the legs -- we saw the fearmongering, the propaganda about what would happen once they got here, the caravan. It failed. It was a rout for your party. Why do we see a doubling down on the strategy now?

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, October 20, Morning Joe on MSBC:

8:38 a.m. Eastern

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Over 1,200 children were likely separated from their parents at the Southwestern border before the Trump administration announced its zero tolerance immigration policy. The Courthouse News Service reports that Health and Human Services commander Jonathan White told a federal judge on Friday that he believes a final accounting will show at least 1,250 additional children separated from their parents before an injunction stopped the practice. The disclosure is part of an ongoing class action lawsuit brought by the ACLU that has resulted in the reunification of children separations are likely to be confirmed by this Friday.

That news comes as a new documentary investigating how Donald Trump turned the issue of immigration into a powerful weapon.

(…)

MICHAEL KIRK, ZERO TOLERANCE: It's the origin story for how Donald Trump found himself using resentment over immigration as a political weapon, It's, from our point of view, and what we can tell, it's the -- maybe the essential element of his presidency in terms of where he's had his most impact. We follow the story of three completely outsized and on the edges people in Washington who got to the President -- got to the GOP, cracked it all open and used immigration as the way to do it.

(…)

CARLOS CURBELO: During the last Congress, many of us urged the President -- this administration to actually try to solve immigration reform. If any President could have done it -- if any President could have brought the Republican base together on immigration, it would have been this President. Yet they decided to allow Jeff Sessions to launch this shock and awe campaign against immigrants, and this cruel policy of separating children at the border was the result.

(…)

ELISE JORDAN: As a former Republican congressman, can you explain something to me. I am baffled how with the child separation policy, it seems like Groundhog Day. You heard congressmen and women. Every day, they say they hate the policy -- they don't want it. The Trump administration says they're changing it -- then, they say, "No, we're not really" -- they go back to it. Now, there's this reporting that there are over 1,000 children that were separated from their parents. Why can Congress not do anything about this terrible policy that no one. And God buh -- I was about to say, "God bless," but I don't want to say, "God bless," but, you know, those people who do really need to examine their souls.

(…)

NICK CONFESSORE: In 2018, we saw the Trump strategy on immigration as politics in full fledge -- threats to militarize the border which were carried out. We saw in my colleagues' book (Border Wars) that he had pondered asking DHS and soldiers to shoot people in the legs -- we saw the fearmongering, the propaganda about what would happen once they got here, the caravan. It failed. It was a rout for your party. Why do we see a doubling down on the strategy now?

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