Immigration-Related TV Season In Full Gear: First, Arpaio; Now, Homeland Security

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

The show doesnt have a political point of view, its creator says

The show "doesn't have a political point of view", its creator says. (Photo: New York Times)

It seems immigration-related reality shows are all the rage this season. Only a couple of weeks after the launch of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s show, the ABC network this week launched “Homeland Security USA”. The show — a border protection version of “Cops” — debuted Tuesday and, as anything that touches on the issue of immigration these days, immediately drew both high praise and scornful denunciations.

Even before its first airing, a Facebook group opposing the series had been set up, drawing “more than 500 postings within its first few days,” The AP reported. “Many were negative, including denunciations of the show as government propaganda.”

The show’s own website became a place for confrontation. “Cancel the show,” was the title of one thread in the message board. “Immigration reform now!!!” demanded another. “Liberal news slams the show. You know it has to be good,” wrote someone else.

Liberal or not, most TV critics do not seem to like the show very much.

After noting that it ignores cases like that of Lorraine Henderson, the Homeland Security official who, we reported previously, was arrested in Massachusetts for hiring an undocumented Brazilian house cleaner, The New York TimesAlessandra Stanley wrote:

Nor are there any references to divisive policy debates over immigration reform or individual privacy rights. Human decency is stressed. Officials hunting down illegal immigrants in 110-degree heat in the Arizona desert note that they are there primarily for “search and rescue” purposes, not to arrest people and send them back across the border (though in this case, they do).

Terrorism, human trafficking and drug smuggling are problems not easily compressed into bite-size, feel-good anecdotes. When they are, a lot is left out.

“Not particularly exciting, and it does occasionally feel like a commercial for the government agencies that helped produce it,” said Verne Gay, of Newsday. “But it is nominally instructive and engaging. What’s needed, badly so, is a larger overview of the profession and what it’s up against.”

Tom Shales, Washington Post critic, was harsher: “Even if it’s better to be safe than sorry … ‘Homeland’ still seems a sorry excuse for a television show.”

While the show covers the work of Homeland Security agents at work, it features no discussion of issues like immigration policy, The A.P.’s Lynn Elber noted.

“It doesn’t have a political point of view,” executive producer Arnold Shapiro told Elber. “It’s not meant to show the (department) higher-ups … just the average men and women on the front lines protecting our country from various things illegal and dangerous.”

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