Hey there, Reddit. I’ve covered many topics in my reporting for NBC News and MSNBC, including the 2016 election, the opioid crisis and everything in between. I spent the past two weeks covering the border crisis and the separations of migrant families at the US-Mexico border, including going inside the country’s largest immigration processing center and taking a months-long look at the realities on the ground for Dateline’s “The Dividing Line.” AMA!

And yes, it's really me.

UPDATE: Thanks everyone. Signing off. This was really fun. And we will keep on this story. I am grateful to be one small part of the large NBC News and MSNBC team on this story. As of right now, there are still 2,047 kids separated from their parents. And the military was just asked to build new detention centers for 12,000 people. This story is not over. Keep in touch:

Comments: 3500 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

christopherlaugh712 karma

Did you feel that people were being treated humanely or is it a rather hostile environment?

nbcnews1670 karma

I want to say that in HHS facilities -- where the 2,047 kids still are today -- the quality of care that I saw was good. These are trained and licensed childcare professionals. Where I was, they were still kept inside a former WalMart 22 hours a day. But they weren't in cages like the kids at the Border Patrol processing station.

AFlaccoSeagulls559 karma

So I read one of your other comments and you said that the vast majority of people who are immigrating here are doing so to escape gang violence or other forms of persecution.

Is the fear of gang violence an acceptable asylum claim?

If it's not, do you have any recommendations as to what we can do for people who are fleeing gang violence in Mexico with the fear that they, often like family members of friends, will also be killed?

nbcnews685 karma

It has been, historically, but AG Sessions want to change that, which would radically alter the "credible fear" claims people are able to make seeking asylum.

TheMisterGiblet287 karma

What are some of the biggest misconceptions you’ve heard and read about the families and the locations you are reporting on?

nbcnews881 karma

Number one -- no question -- is that the border is a war zone. You should check out this clip of me and Manuel Padilla, the chief of the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector, where more migrants cross and are caught than anywhere. He said MS-13 had surged 300% last year -- but if you dig a little deeper those numbers are 180 of 187,000 people. Yet they based a policy caging babies on those data points.

And, it turns out, the cities along the U.S. side of the Mexican border are some of the safest cities in America. When we went to El Paso, we didn't see the "ground zero" Attorney General Sessions described. Instead we saw hundreds of high school kids who were American citizens crossing back and forth between Juarez and El Paso legally every day.

gurlinthewurld242 karma

Can you speak about the upcoming judicial decision requiring the children be reunited with the parents within 30 days?

nbcnews373 karma

We asked the administration yesterday if they intend to seek a stay of this ruling -- meaning they wouldn't have to reunite the kids with parents on this timetable -- and they didn't comment. That means they're thinking about challenging the ruling. Maybe because they can't actually reunite kids on the short timetable the court ordered because they don't have a plan. That, and many parents may already be deported.

totalfuckwit204 karma

It's been stated by many of my family members that this is a democratic policy. Is there truth behind this statement?

nbcnews471 karma

Our failed immigration policy is decades in the making.

Deterrence, which is what zero tolerance is all about, started as an official policy, under Bill Clinton, in 1994. It resulted in apprehensions on the border going down (because of new walls and stepped-up enforcement) but also resulted in more people dying trying to cross in more dangerous places.

And during the Central American migrant crisis of 2014, the Obama administration did start detaining families in cages just like the ones I saw, and should not be excused for doing that.

But systematically ripping children from their parents, caging them, and prosecuting their parents is a policy created and implemented by President Trump.

RobertdBanks812 karma

"did start detaining families in cages" "not be excused" - Obama

"ripping children from their parents" "caging them" - Trump

I favor Obama over Trump, but using language like his to describe one side over the other is why people don't like the media.

daniel2978269 karma

I noticed if you watch the video of him covering this in 2014 it's REALLY soft hitting compared to this.

nbcnews-173 karma

Fair. I would say I have grown as a journalist since then.

ed_merckx253 karma

the Obama administration did start detaining families in cages just like the ones I saw, and should not be excused for doing that

It's not even a trump/obama thing, as he uses this language towards Obama policy, yet calls himself a correspondent not an op-ed writer.

I have no problem with any news outlet pushing opinion articles under that proper section and so long as it's clearly disclosed. But now the corespondent and even investigative sections are just glorified opinion pieces.

nbcnews-282 karma

If you want Ron Burgundy, go watch Ron Burgundy. I am a human being with opinions and will tell you what I see and how I feel about it.

LB-2187-364 karma

But systematically ripping children from their parents, caging them, and prosecuting their parents

Gee, what a surprise you’d use emotionally provoking language rather than neutral legal terms.

I could just as easily say that these children were separated from invading child traffickers, and I would be no more inaccurate than you.

EDIT: In case you all thought Mr. Soboroff was being an honest journalist, here’s a quote of his from elsewhere in this thread that may bring you to pause -

If you want Ron Burgundy, go watch Ron Burgundy. I am a human being with opinions and will tell you what I see and how I feel about it.

nbcnews338 karma

Have you been to the border or inside the McAllen Border Patrol processing station? I have. They're in cages and they were ripped from their parents. Have you asked Manuel Padilla, the Chief of the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector how many fraudulent family units enter his sector? I have. According to him, the number is one percent.

toniintexas199 karma

Are there any numbers available on how many people have been allowed to apply for asylum, legally, at ports of entry since zero-tolerance policy began? Are immigrants being turned away illegally before they can apply?

nbcnews241 karma

What I can tell you in that in the seven months before I sat down with DHS Secretary Nielsen for this interview, 130,000 people had been turned away at ports of entry. That number includes asylum seekers.

Nielsen told me if you're turned away you don't have a valid reason to come in -- but many asylum seekers aren't even counted in that number because they don't formally get into the country because they leave and try to cross illegally after waiting a long period of time.

eatyourownlegs190 karma

Are the numbers given by the media/DHS reports accurate? As in, are a large number of these children coming with people who aren’t their parents, or alone?

nbcnews335 karma

I mentioned it elsewhere here, but the Chief of the Rio Grande Valley sector told me only 1% of "family units" are fraudulent.

seancarter90176 karma

Why is this issue getting so much coverage now, even though it’s been going on for 20+ years? And why is the onus on Trump to fix this, when it’s Congress that should be enacting the policies?

nbcnews45 karma

Because President Trump made a policy to separate kids from their parents and put them in cages. But I agree with you, this is the culmination of decades of failed immigration policy that has resulted in today's humanitarian crisis.

kindaokguy173 karma

How common is rape, human trafficking, sexual abuse among the female and child illegal aliens?

Are any of the organizations who are receiving money for services to illegal aliens actually fronts for human trafficking?

nbcnews206 karma

Sexual and gender violence is a huge reason many migrants come to the U.S. seeking asylum -- and even then, on their journeys -- they face the same risk. Great reporting from my colleague Suzanne on this.

TryPotsfamouschowder136 karma

What is the most common reason these people are seeking amnesty in the US?

nbcnews239 karma

Almost everyone I've meet on the border who crosses illegally to seek asylum says they're fleeing gang violence or some form of persecution back at home. For the Dateline special, we profiled a Honduran woman who said members of her family had been killed by gangs -- and I met Salvadorian family along the Rio Grande in South Texas who had been attacked by the 18th Street Gang. One thing a lot of people don't know is that gang, and MS-13, started in Los Angeles -- not in Central America. My colleagues Danielle and Suzanne had a great deep dive on asylum seekers -- check it out.

yardrunt129 karma

How hard is it to pretend to not be in the bag for the Democrat party?

nbcnews56 karma

When I was covering the 2016 election, talking with Trump supporters, I was asked the exact opposite question time and again, about Republicans. So I must be doing something right.

black_flag_4ever84 karma

What did you think of the Rio Grande Valley in general, an often overlooked but important part of this story?

nbcnews155 karma

It's one of the greatest places I've ever visited. The people. Food. Even the humidity -- a nice change for me, I'm from Southern California. Boca Chica, in Texas, where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been!

Earthword58 karma

What are your personal thoughts on what should be done with the immigration " issue"?

nbcnews105 karma

Every member of Congress and the President should actually travel the entire border themselves. Spending four months doing just that made me realize that politicians in Washington talk about the border like it is another planet, and have no idea what is actually going on there. It's what we tried to convey in our Dateline special, The Dividing Line.

flannyo30 karma

Why do you think the administration is separating families?

nbcnews67 karma

To scare the living daylights out of other migrants thinking about coming here. This is all about deterrence. Which we know, historically, doesn't work. It has horrible consequences -- like more people dying trying to get here.

wintertigerlilly11 karma

I'm a young journalist one year into my career, and sometimes when I cover difficult subjects I struggle not to get emotional. How do you stay neutral on subjects that are really emotional and/or polarizing? (And how did you not break down in tears when you saw babies separated from their families, etc.)

nbcnews-14 karma

I don't believe there's such thing as staying neutral or hiding emotions. It's not healthy. Is it even possible? I said what I thought -- it was horrific and sickening to see these kids caged like they were.

conspicuousmatchcut9 karma

What are the best ways for average people to help out the families detained at the border and scattered around the country?

Also, is NBC going to put more voices like yours in prime time? I freaking hope so.

nbcnews152 karma

RAICES provides immigrant legal defense in South Texas -- have you seen them? They've raised over $20 million since this whole thing started, double their annual operating budget if I have my numbers right. I also think it's the most successful fundraising campaign in Facebook history. I met the executive director in McAllen, he was blown away by the support from around the world.

JamieMcG3 karma

Big fan of your work on MSNBC. A couple questions...

-For how long do you think, was the government doing a trial of the family separation policy before it was enacted, and do you know how many children were taken prior to April?

-As a parent, how do you possibly divorce the need to run up and hug these children, from your need to remain impartial? I could never do what you do.

-Bethany Christian Services, which has a government contract to place these children in US homes, has a frightening record on coercive adoption practices overseas as well as here in the US. Is there any oversight for where these children end up?

nbcnews55 karma

Thanks. Your first question is a great one, and we don't know for sure. We've asked -- and DHS will not tell us, yet. We actually asked yesterday.

As far as being a parent, and I'm a new parent -- my son is not even three -- it was sickening to see this. That's the only way I can describe it. Little kids, alone, in cages, after being separated from their parents at the McAllen Border Patrol processing station.

All oversight of where unaccompanied minors end up is run by HHS. And let's just say they haven't exactly answered all the questions we've asked them, either.

lostboy00510 karma

what are the kids doing for down time? is there a TV, toys, games? Is the food they are receiving adequate and healthy? how are the amenities- to sum up the Q; ur one of the little kids waking up in an ICE detention CTR- can you walk me thru what a day is like for them?

nbcnews40 karma

In the HHS facilities there are lots of activities, at least at Casa Padre, where I went in Brownsville. It's all very structured though: 2 hours of outdoor time, video games, school classes, even tai chi.

At the Border Patrol processing station, the kids are in cages. What was called a recreation area was really a cage with a guard in the center in a watchtower looking over little kids.

FloridaEngine-95 karma

Why didn’t you go during the Obama administration?

Did you go now because it’s what generates the most clicks?

nbcnews309 karma

Mralfredmullaney-103 karma

Bots are trying so hard to discredit you in this sub, how does this make you feel?

nbcnews43 karma