Surely one of the hottest potatoes of a topic, immigration and asylum seekers have split the nation in their opinions. Many national newspapers have reported on the negatives of asylum seekers, with the Daily Express speaking out of the “out of control” asylum “crime wave”.
However, local newspapers have been seeing past the numbers and actually campaigning for the individuals who deserve not to be deported.
The Bolton Evening News has been campaigning for a family of eight who are facing deportation by the Home Office to the Democratic Republic of Congo with a “Let Them Stay” message. The Sukula family have had their benefits taken away (under section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004) after they refused to leave when refused asylum. If they return to their home country they face imprisonment or even death. The family’s campaign has caught the attention of celebrities even with Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh supporting them. The appeal has reached the immigration and citizenship minister who has promised to “take a fresh look” at the situation.
However, they are not the only one supporting local asylum seekers. High-profile regional dailies such as the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Bristol Evening Post have actively campaigned on behalf of families and individuals facing deportation. Some individuals have very valid reasons for fleeing their home countries but are treated as a statistic, such as journalist Mansoor Hassan who fled Pakistan after uncovering government corruption. He has received support from the Manchester Evening News and the weekly North East Manchester Advertiser. The Liverpool Echo helped win a temporary reprieve for Arif Dar who was facing deportation to Pakistan.
It seems that the local papers are using their hearts rather than political views to assess the validity of some of the asylum seekers, and that’s no bad thing.
24 January 2006