Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arizona Reporter Wins Immigration Journalism Award

Leo W. Banks is the recipient of the 2011 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The award, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies, is intended to highlight good reporting in a field where so much of the coverage is formulaic and mawkish.

While writing about life in southern Arizona during the late 1990s, Banks began to notice the impact of illegal immigration. The human and drug smuggling networks, violence, and environmental devastation soon became unavoidable. But few journalists were willing to chronicle these historic events. Covering the border for the Tucson Weekly and contributing to other publications, Banks has used his intimate familiarity with the people and places of the Arizona and his skills as a storyteller to shine a light on places many policymakers and others would rather ignore. These skills came in especially handy during the controversy over last year's passage of the state's most recent immigration law, which prompted an enormous amount of superficial drive-by journalism by reporters wholly unfamiliar with Arizona's border.

Nicholas Stein, producer of the National Geographic Television series 'Border Wars' and keynote speaker at the award presentation, said of Banks, 'He’s the one who really covers these stories of the real life-and-death and day-by-day difficulties of the folks who live down there, and has followed these stories in a remarkable way.' Stein, whose program chronicles the work of the Border Patrol, also noted, 'I'm embedded with law enforcement but he’s embedded with the citizens.'

Award Ceremony Booklet here

Award Ceremony Videos here

Award Ceremony Transcript here

This award is named in memory of Eugene Katz, a native New Yorker who started his career, after Dartmouth and Oxford, as a reporter for the Daily Oklahoman. In 1928, he joined the family business, working as an advertising salesman for the Katz Agency, and in 1952 became president of Katz Communications, a half-billion-dollar firm which not only dealt in radio and television advertising but also owned and managed a number of radio stations. Mr. Katz was a member of the Center for Immigration Studies board until shortly after his 90th birthday in 1997. He passed away in 2000.

Previous winners of the Katz Award are listed here

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Bryan Griffith, 202-466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Australian Labor party bigwigs now echoing conservatives on boatpeople policy

THREE senior Labor ministers have warned of the risk that more child asylum-seekers could drown in Australian waters without a change in border protection policy.

In a tacit admission that onshore processing of asylum-seekers attracts people-smugglers, the ministers, all from Labor's Right, rejected calls from Labor's Left for exemptions for minors under Julia Gillard's plan to deport 800 boatpeople to Malaysia.

Led by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, they warned exemptions would encourage people-smugglers to target children -- comments that put them on the same ideological page as Tony Abbott, who will make the same points in a speech to the Lowy Institute in Sydney today.

For years, the government has attributed the increase in the flow of asylum-seeker boats arriving off northern Australian to "pull factors", including escalation of troubles in source nations.

But yesterday, as Right faction ministers sought to fight off pressure from the Left, they put themselves closer to the opposition's argument by insisting the government must remove incentives for people to travel to Australia in leaky boats.

Mr Bowen said it would not be possible to "break the people-smuggler business model" with a blanket exemption.

"We saw 50-odd people die in December on Christmas Island," Mr Bowen said. "We've got to stop people getting on those boats, and it is inevitable that we will see another tragedy unless we break the people-smugglers' business model."

The comments are similar to statements the Opposition Leader will make in today's Lowy Institute speech, where he will argue that Labor's dismantling of the Howard government's so-called Pacific Solution policy attracted people-smugglers and that the government had taken "a long time to learn" that the alternative to strict border protection is "tacit encouragement" for people to risk their lives at sea.

"The government can't be held responsible for the deaths of people in unseaworthy boats, but it is responsible for putting temptation in their way," says a copy of Mr Abbott's speech obtained by The Australian last night.

"Giving boatpeople what they want is not morally preferable to strict deterrence if it encourages more of them to take great risks making ocean voyages in leaky boats."

The key difference between the rhetoric of Mr Abbott and Labor is that the opposition wants asylum-seekers processed on the island of Nauru while the government is pursuing its plan to swap 800 boatpeople with Malaysia for 4000 established refugees.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson said MPs should be concerned about "children arriving unauthorised in very risky circumstances".

And Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government's key aim must be to protect lives. "Those little children drowned obviously with fear in their eyes and terror, in circumstances we don't want to see repeated," he said.

During today's speech, Mr Abbott will reveal a plan to travel to Nauru this week to talk to its government about whether it was still prepared to reactivate an asylum-processing centre set up by the Howard government.

He will also argue that the Gillard government is yet to explain why it could be wrong to send asylum-seekers to Nauru for processing, but not wrong to send them to Malaysia.

"Under Malaysian law, immigration violations such as breaching conditions of entry are subject to caning with a rattan," he will say. "According to Amnesty International's 2010 report, tens of thousands of illegal migrants, including asylum-seekers, have been caned.

"If the government is serious about not allowing boatpeople to be caned, it simply can't send them to Malaysia."


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