The BBC is in San Antonio this week to tape an episode of the series, “The Response: America’s Story.” Producers have been collecting stories about immigration from listeners for a future episode of the program.
TPR’s Norma Martinez had a chance to speak with Shaimaa Khalil, the host of The Response: America’s Story.” We asked Shaimaa whether concerns about a wave of immigrants in Europe are similar to immigration concerns in the United States. She said immigration played a part in Brexit: Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
SHAIMAA: There is a common sentiment among many people in Europe, including the United Kingdom, in the buildup to Brexit and after Brexit, and remember now what we’re seeing is a wave of populist, um, politicians, you know, for example far right politicians like Marine Le Pen in France, um, in the Netherlands, um for example, who do adopt these anti-immigration policies, people who say they want their country back, who are very concerned about immigration, people coming into the country and what that means for jobs and security, and so you are seeing that common thread in the United Kingdom and across Europe, and I think that goes in parallel with what’s going on in the United States, that debate around immigration an what immigrants can do and contribute to society, versus people’s fears, that’s definitely, um, similar between the two places.
NORMA MARTINEZ: So do you think the election of Donald Trump has escalated the concerns about immigration in Europe?
SHAIMAA: I think it’s a really interesting question. You know, I remember a few weeks after Donald Trump was elected, we have a very famous political and current affairs magazine here, a weekly magazine, called The Economist, and I remember very soon after the election of President Trump, there was, one of the covers, had Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, who was a big, big advocate for Brexit, Marine Le Pen from the far right from France, on the cover of the magazine. And I think the message was that there was definitely a, a global, if you will, or like a major move, a populist move among a, among the west, among Europe and the United States. There was a momentum, there was a definite buildup to it. We’ve been traveling quite a bit in Trump country, as they call it, so states that did vote for Donald Trump, and we went to industrial, industrial belt, we went to rural America, and the one thing that you hear time and time again is, one, people are very, very concerned about security, and two, people are very concerned about jobs. And if you speak to people who voted to leave the European Union here in the United Kingdom, it’s also jobs and security. And those two things, the flip side of those two fears, is immigration. And people are quite concerned about where they’re coming from, if they’re being vetted, you know , if they’re a threat to, to society. And again, of course, that debate is opened up quite wide now in the United States, as you know, but especially when you see these pictures of, of Syrian refugees trying to make it to Europe, walking for days and days and days, um, trying to get to the European borders, taking very, very dangerous trips across the sea and many of them losing their lives, losing their children. And, and of course, what they say, you know, is we’re fleeing the same situation that you’re afraid of. Again, the other side of the debate is people saying it is the duty of countries, of European countries, of countries like the United States, to open their doors to those people who have been oppressed, who’ve been living under extremely horrible circumstances. So I think it’s a combination of so many things. I think it was definitely the political momentum, but also worldwide events like the Syrian conflict that’s also pushing this debate, and making it as heated as it is at the moment.
That was TPR’s Norma Martinez talking with Shaimaa Khalil, host of the BBC series “The Response: America’s Story.” Shaimaa and a crew from the BBC are in San Antonio this week taping an episode on immigration.