The Invisibles

NBC 5 and Telemundo 39 Joint Investigation Leads to Peabody Award Nomination

The Peabody Awards received more than 1200 entries for 2019 and are considered among the most prestigious awards in broadcasting honoring the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media

NBC 5 and Telemundo 39 have been nominated for a 2019 Peabody Award for “The Invisibles,” a news program that looked at the stories of children born in Texas – U.S. citizens – unable to obtain medical care or education when their parents return with them to Mexico. Some advocates say the children suffer longer because delays at a State of Texas records office prevent them from getting documents they need to move forward with their lives. A joint investigation was conducted by NBC 5 and Telemundo 39.

The Peabody Awards received more than 1200 entries for 2019 and are considered among the most prestigious awards in broadcasting honoring the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media.  NBC 5 was recognized with a Peabody Award in 2017.

“Through our investigation we found many of these children leave the U.S. suddenly when their parents are deported or return to Mexico for family reasons,” said NBC 5 Senior Investigative Reporter Scott Friedman. “We teamed up with our incredible partners at Telemundo 39, traveled to two regions of Mexico to tell the stories of these children and pressed Texas officials for answers about the bureaucratic nightmare these American kids encounter while trying to obtain their own birth records.”

“The Telemundo 39 team regularly reports from Mexico about issues vital to our Spanish-speaking North Texans,” said Telemundo 39 Anchor and Investigative Reporter Norma Garcia. “It’s important that our viewers have a voice and a reliable source of information.”

They are known as “The Invisibles,” American children now caught in a bureaucratic nightmare in Mexico struggling to prove their identity and receive basic services. Many of these children were born in Texas, and are, therefore, U.S. citizens, but left America when their families returned to Mexico. At least 600,000 U.S.-born American children are now living south of the border,...

"The Invisibles” revealed how some young and vulnerable Texas-born children living in Mexico are severely impacted by delays in obtaining their Texas birth records. When they contact Texas to get their birth records, they often encounter a lack of assistance and months-long delays. Texas does not cooperate in an international, electronic records system that most states use to help foreign officials verify birth records immediately. Advocates for these children believe some Texas officials have declined to participate in this electronic records hub to punish Mexican parents who had children while living undocumented in the U.S. 

“This powerful yearlong collaboration of investigative reporting and documentary is a result of using the combined resources of NBC 5 and Telemundo 39,” added Tom Ehlmann, President and General Manager of both stations. “In our first-ever collaboration on an investigative project, we strived to tell a story that has a real impact in our community and will make a difference.”

As a result of NBC 5 and Telemundo 39’s extensive reports, the Mexican American Caucus in the Texas state legislature has demanded action from the governor’s administration, asking for immediate implementation of the electronic system that could eliminate the months that many children wait. This investigation was the first to show how Texas denies some children easy access to their right to their identity. The reports gave a voice to these invisible children, and lawmakers are now stepping forward to affect change.

NBC 5 Senior Investigative Reporter Scott Friedman (left) and NBC 5 Photographer Jose Sanchez (right).

Team members contributing to “The Invisibles” include NBC 5 Senior Investigative Reporter Scott Friedman as reporter and producer, NBC 5 Photographer Jose Sanchez as editor and photographer, Telemundo 39 Anchor and Reporter Norma Garcia, Telemundo 39 Photographer Sergio Alvarado, and NBC 5 Vice President of News John Stone along with Telemundo 39 Vice President of News Freddy Oldenburg as executive producers. 

Telemundo 39 Anchor and Reporter Norma Garcia (right) and Telemundo 39 Photographer Sergio Alvarado (left).

The Peabody Awards are presented by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, who plan to announce official winners at a later date. To access more information about this year’s Peabody Awards, please click here. 

Watch Scott Friedman’s video diary of his journey to Mexico City. The sights, the sounds and the stories of Texas-born children struggling to establish their identity and gain access to vital services.
Part two of Scott Friedman’s video diary takes us to the outskirts of Mexico City to meet a 9-year-old American boy who describes being told he was invisible after moving to Mexico with his father.
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