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Yet another major immigration speech

By World Economic Forum, on Flickr

Prime Minister David Cameron has made yet another keynote speech on immigration. He seems hell bent on setting back race relations in this country by forty years.

Encouraging members of the public to rat on suspected illegal immigrant neighbours or work colleagues is hardly likely to promote community cohesion. It is a great way to settle scores or just get rid of ethnic minorities because you don’t like them very much, though. What is there to lose for the aggrieved racist complainant? If the suspected ‘illegal’ is in fact here illegally they get detained and removed. If they are here lawfully, they are subjected to a humiliating and traumatic dawn or workplace raid.

The criminalisation of forced marriages has been considered very carefully before but it was felt by some very serious people who actually work with the victims that it would do more harm than good (basically by dissuading the victims from taking action). Instead, a thoughtful civil scheme was introduced, which seems to be working. I’ve been instructed in several such cases myself.

Immigration bonds were proposed by the last Government but abandoned because they were considered impractical. I certainly would not trust the Home Office to administer millions and millions of pounds of such bonds. They can barely process credit cards or cheques at times.

Adding a few history questions to the citizenship test seems relatively harmless, but it is rather questionable how this will actually help those concerned integrate into British society. It smacks of gesture politics rather than serious governance.

I’ve got some more suggestions from the same stable:

  1. We start getting children to inform on their parents. There could be lessons at school about the evil threat posed by illegal immigrants. Only the Party can protect ordinary citizens against this threat.
  2. Force registered immigrants to wear some sort of visible badge so that they can easily be identified. Perhaps a yellow one.
  3. Carry out immigration raids at cricket and perhaps other sporting fixtures. Anyone wearing, for example, an Indian or Pakistani shirt who is not an actual visitor from that country should be deported to what is obviously their ‘home’ country.

As with the sudden withdrawal of women’s rights in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it wouldn’t take much more to go down this road. The new proposal on ratting comes close to (1). Compulsory identity cards seems not that far from (2). There were credible reports of stop and search by immigration officials in a shopping centre, not that far from (3), and workplace raids on ethnic minority shops and businesses are becoming an accepted part of doing business, like mafia protection payments in Sicily.

It is all very well having a ‘debate’ on immigration, but this constant tirade from senior members of the Government against immigrants, immigration and ethnic minorities is becoming tiresome. The speech could have been even worse, mind you. Cameron apparently dropped the plan to force businesses to ‘own up’ to how many immigrants they employ. Not on the grounds that it was demeaning and damaging to race relations, though, but on the grounds that it was an additional regulatory burden.

Free Movement
Free Movement The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

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