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The facts matter, but which ones can we rely on?

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Dear Editor:

David Jacobson's letter (8/1) and James Timmerwilke's response (8/15) have prompted me to reflect on the widening divide in this country. The letter writers expressed their opinions in a civil and respectful manner, but no one's mind was changed. I think the problem is the writers depend upon different facts. The practice of choosing facts to support one's opinion is not new, but the practice of rejecting as "fake news" information that doesn't support our opinion is new and dangerous. There cannot be real communication when the "facts" are fluid and dependent on the source.

Mr. Timmerwilke's information is different than Mr. Jacobson's. Mr. Timmerwilke says the immigration situation has been exaggerated and that the majority of families separated at the border were reunited within three days. Mr. Jacobson is outraged by immigrant children held in cages. Verified facts:

1) Photos dated 6/17 show immigrants, including children, held in chainlink structures at the detention center in McAllen, Texas (Source: U.S. Border Patrol).

2) Statement from the Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement on 6/26 that 2,097 children separated from their families were held in shelters.

3) Statement from (HHS) on 7/12 states 57 children had been reunited with their parents. That shows 5 percent of separated children were reunited within 16 days.

There is only one set of facts. Which stories get reported may reflect the bias of the organization (Fox News has different stories than CNN), but the facts should be the same. That they are not is the real danger. How can we talk to each other and make informed decisions if we can't rely on the same set of facts? More than ever, we have the responsibility to find the truth. The civility modeled by the letter writers is admirable, but the facts matter.

Linda McCone

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