The wife of a migrant worker, whose arrest by Canadian officials was filmed by camera crews in Vancouver, has started a petition to get a reality TV show cancelled.
Diana Thompson's husband, Tulio Renan Aviles Hernandez, was one of the workers taken into custody at a construction site last week, for not having legal working permits.
The raid happened in front of crews from "Border Security," which is broadcast on Global TV and the National Geographic Channel. The show follows officers from the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Thompson wants the show cancelled immediately, and the federal agency to stop participating in the program.
"Deportation, exploiting human suffering, coercing migrant workers, and tearing apart families is not entertainment," says Thompson in the petition. "Would these raids have happened on this scale, in such a militaristic way, if a reality TV show wasn't being filmed for National Geographic Channel?"
The petition has attracted more than 10,000 supporters in less than a week, including actress/director Sarah Polley and author Naomi Klein.
Polley tweeted on Friday: "This is a really awful example of reality TV. So many of these shows hurt people. Let's start speaking up," while Klein tweeted a link to the petition as well.
In Parliament on Monday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews defended the use of reality TV cameras on immigrant raids, saying that illegal immigrants take advantage of Canadian taxpayers — not the other way around.
According to Thompson, her husband was "one day from completing his immigration sponsorship forms." He wanted to work to support her and their daughter, even though a permit wasn't granted yet, she says.
While in custody, he refused to sign a consent form for his footage to be aired on TV, said Thompson. But other detainees who spoke little English signed it "under duress," she claims.
"He will be deported to Honduras within a week where he fears for his life," says Thompson of her husband.