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.”


  1. I agree that what we have seen in the first show is hardly the kind of exciting material that is likely to attract a lasting audience. While it is nice to know that there are a few successes in stopping drug and human smugglers, there is a much larger story to be told that would include some graphic pictures of the trashing of the Arizona landscape by the cultural infusion from Mexico. The question of how it is humanly possible to thwart drug and human smugglers given the high volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic particularly at the San Ysidro portal. There are a number of things that could be done if we weren’t burdened with a spineless Congress and an inept Administration. Cross-border work-related traffic could be halted. If you work here and are a citizen, then you must live here. If you are not a citizen, you must stay on your side of the border.

    Aggressive internal enforcement is the sine qua non of secure borders as is an end to “catch and release” at the border and internally. All those apprehended must serve a minimum of 6 months for the first offense working on border infrastructure at minimum wage.

    Employers must be compelled to provide family health care coverage for all foreign employees and pay them at the American standard for the kind of work they do.

    Mexican tractors must be prohibited form American roads and highways. Detach at the border and hook up to American tractors.

    Expedited justice for interlopers administered by judges on the spot at the detention centers and at the border crossings. Strict criteria so judges have little latitude. Voluntary family separations should never be one of the criteria.

    The show should be a documentary on all aspects of illegal aliens, excessive legal immigration, and the long term impact on America with no political correctness or punches pulled. This could include a review of votes in the Congress and the pros and cons of Comprehensive Immigration Reform vs piecemeal legislation designed to stop the hemorrhaging at the border before any other measures are considered.

  2. Interesting post, I think it might be one of those one hit wonders. It seems like something that everybody would get board of soon. How many times can you see the same type of people get arrested anyways.

  3. Al in SoCal

    I hate that we even have a department with the word “homeland” in it. It’s one step off of fatherland …. scary. The police state has arrived.

  4. mulugeta

    I ask you genlly if you cuold explain clearly what “The season of immigration to the North” of Tayeb Salih in his book written in 1960s. it is also wonder ful if you let me know what “drowing” of Mustafa Saeed’s in the book imply to.

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