The Canadian Border Services Agency had no business dragging a reality-TV crew along when it was hunting for illegal workers. Border Services officers raided a construction site in Vancouver on Wednesday and rounded up an undisclosed number of people who were working without proper documents.
When the officers went in, they had a crew from Force Four Entertainment in tow, shooting video for a series called Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.
After they were rounded up, the workers were asked to sign releases from the production company to allow their images to be broadcast. Some refused and others signed, although it’s not clear how many of them understood what they were signing.
The people at Border Services do important work protecting Canada from criminals and illegal immigrants. That doesn’t mean their work is fodder for reality TV.
Most of what they do is tedious, as anyone knows who has waited patiently in line at an airport or land crossing. As in the ubiquitous reality shows about police officers, production companies use vigorous editing to make it appear that the officers’ jobs are non-stop excitement.
It’s cheap entertainment, but it does nothing to help us understand the work of our public servants.
In the case of the Wednesday raid, immigrant activists and lawyers warn that the people caught up in the net could be refugee claimants who are already fleeing persecution. Rousting them in front of the cameras and possibly broadcasting their images to tormentors in their home countries is unfair.
Indeed, those who were rounded up weren’t the target of the officers, who initially went to the site seeking a man with a criminal history. The others were bycatch.
CBSA has a serious mission to protect our borders and catch illegal immigrants. Its mission is not to entertain bored TV watchers in the rec rooms of the nation.
© Copyright 2013