Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why is the BBC STILL so hideously biased on immigration?

David Cameron has just made the most important speech on immigration of any Prime Minister for many years. He tackled the subject in a frank, open, comprehensive and factual manner, while remaining sensitive to the delicacy of the issues. He set out a clear aim — to get net immigration down to tens of thousands — while disposing of the myth that EU migration would render this impossible.

He didn't shy away from describing the widespread abuse in the immigration system, whether by forced or sham marriages, bogus students, dodgy colleges, or dubious work permits.

This was a very significant contribution from a national leader addressing a sensitive issue that troubles a huge number of people in this country. Yet if you had listened to Radio 4 you would not have known it. Their treatment of this story was abysmal.

The Today Programme, the so-called jewel in the BBC's crown, introduced the item with a sound-bite from the BNP claiming that the Government had adopted their policies, but 20 years too late. How is that for a smear?

This was followed by a hostile interview with the Immigration Minister, Damian Green, in which the presenter accused the Prime Minister of making 'an anti-immigrant statement'. What was he referring to? The Prime Minister's sin, apparently, was to say that 'real communities are bound by common experiences'.

His speech went on to say that 'communities are forged by friendship and conversation, knitted together by all the rituals of the neighbourhood, from the school run to the chat down the pub. All these bonds can take time. So real integration takes time.' Most of us would think that this was a statement of common sense — not to say the blindingly obvious. But not, it seems if you work for Radio 4.

The rest of the interview bore so little relationship to the Prime Minister's speech that one wondered whether the presenter had even read it.

Next to weigh in was the BBC website which ignored a sensible contribution from the Lib-Dem spokesman, Tom Brake, later on the Today Programme. Instead it led with a headline in which Vince Cable described the Prime Minister's speech as very unwise and risked 'inflaming extremism'. Nobody who had read the text could possibly draw such a conclusion, but the headline suited the BBC's agenda. No surprise then that the World At One followed up with a discussion in which racism and extremism featured prominently.

One is left wondering how it is possible to have a sensible debate on immigration when the largest news organisation in the country is so hideously biased on this subject — to adopt the terminology of its former Director General Greg Dyke, who complained memorably that the corporation was 'hideously white'.

It would be wrong to tar the whole of the BBC with a Radio 4 brush. The BBC is a huge organisation. Some of their journalists are entirely professional, so are some of the editors.

Radio 5 Live, for example, are a good deal more responsive to public opinion on this issue; they know from their phone-ins where public opinion lies and they seem to be less inclined to talk down to their audience. Nevertheless, there is a strong and widespread reluctance, particularly on Radio 4, to tackle the issue of immigration.

Like many on the Left — and I make the connection advisedly — they believe that anyone who raises the subject must have some racist motivation. The fact that 77 per cent of the population want to see immigration reduced, that 50 per cent want it reduced by a lot and that a majority of the ethnic communities also want it reduced, is simply waved away. The public, it seems, are racist or stupid or both.


Georgia Lawmakers Target Illegal Immigration

Governor Plans to Sign Bill Granting Police Authority to Check a Suspect's Status

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said on Friday he would sign into law an Arizona-style immigration bill, a move that would thrust his state into the center of the national debate over securing the country's borders.

The measure "fulfills his campaign promise to crack down on the high expenses that state and local governments here incur because of illegal immigration," spokesman Brian Robinson said in an emailed statement.

Voicing a frustration echoed by other governors, the statement added that it is the federal government's responsibility to "protect our borders and enforce visa and citizenship issues. It's past time that happen."

The bill would, among other provisions, allow police to check the immigration status of certain suspects and require many businesses to verify that employees are eligible to work in the country.

Supporters say it would help Georgia root out the state's undocumented population—estimated at 425,000 by the Pew Hispanic Center—that they believe competes unfairly with legal workers.

"Illegal immigration is destroying Georgia," said D.A. King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, a group that opposes undocumented immigration and backs the bill. "It is lowering our wages, and it is a huge drain on our already inadequate budget dollars."

Opposition to the measure has been intense. Business groups argue that it would sully the state's image nationally and discourage employers. They also worry that the employment verification system—requiring employers to check prospective workers' paperwork against a federal database known as E-Verify—would prove costly and burdensome.

Last-minute changes to the bill satisfied some concerns expressed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said spokeswoman Joselyn Baker. Lawmakers agreed to exempt businesses with 10 or fewer employees from the requirement to check workers' employment status.

Farmers claim that the bill would drive out immigrant laborers—both legal and illegal—upon whom they depend to pick fruit and harvest cotton. And civil and immigrant rights groups say the measure would lead to racial profiling.

It will "create an extremely hostile environment in Georgia," said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. "Georgia is seen as the home of the civil rights movement ... The irony is that the state will be working against civil rights."

Georgia is one of 30 states that are considering immigration-related proposals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Others include Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina.

As in many other states across the country, Georgia's Hispanic population is experiencing dramatic growth, and that's part of what's driving lawmakers to act, said Debra Sabia, a political-science professor at Georgia Southern University. That population nearly doubled, to 853,000, in the past decade, according to the 2010 census. "The fact is, Georgians have had little experience in assimilating immigrants," she said, "and the rapid growth of the Hispanic community hasn't helped that disquiet."

Latino and immigrant rights groups are vowing to call for boycotts of the state, just as they did in response to the law passed in Arizona. There, many business associations canceled their convention plans in the state. Mr. Gonzalez argues that the same could happen to Georgia. "It will be an economic disaster," he said.

The measure also faces likely legal challenges. "We believe this is an unconstitutional measure," said Azadeh Shahshahani of the American Civil Liberties Union's Georgia chapter. If it passes, "we will examine all the options," including litigation.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, the author of the immigration bill, says he was careful to avoid some of the more controversial language in Arizona's law.

The Arizona measure requires police to check the immigration status of an individual, detained in a lawful stop, who they have a "reasonable suspicion" may be undocumented. In Mr. Ramsey's legislation, police may only check the immigration status of suspects who are under investigation for criminal offenses. Moreover, his bill lacks a provision in the Arizona law—one that made it a state crime for non-citizens not to carry their papers.

"We're very confident from a constitutional standpoint," said Mr. Ramsey.


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