Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Maximizing Opposition to Immigration Bill.

Britain is a multicultural nation that has always
Movement Against Xenophobia 
prided itself on its international image of a country that believes in fair play, integrity and justice. These fundamental tenants of law and morality form some of the core principles that are considered the birth right of British citizens since the signing of the Magna Carta.

21st century Britain however has now become a nation where citizen’s access to justice, fairness and equality has become heavily dependant on their economic status, nationality race and faith. If however you are non EU citizens then the depredations of discrimination condemn you to a life where human rights rarely apply to you.

I contend that British Black people, other ethnic minorities, Muslims and immigrants and any one assumed to be 'illegal' face the dual and discordant reality of being second class citizens with third rate human rights living in a supposed first class democracy.

Intolerance and racism have returned, promoted by Government that are  souring social relations between communities. The mood is distinctly febrile, hostile and worryingly will I believe get worse in the run up to the 2015 general election.
Citizenship rights denied by racism 

Coalition of Bigotry and Prejudice

In the last three years we have seen the evisceration of anti racist policies within the Coalition government. Home Secretary Theresa May Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling and Minister for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles have mounted a fierce ideologically driven campaign to traduce all evidence of multiculturalism and anti racism in Government policy.

Theresa May talking about immigration recently declared that she intends to make “Britain a hostile environment” and declared all out war on the Human Rights Act and the European Charter on Human Rights.

This is not news to those who wear hijabs or hoodies, those seeking to bring their scattered families back together or those escaping war, poverty and oppression as asylum seekers this is not news.

Family Reunion; A right not a privilege.

Nor will it be news to those born abroad nor those who simply wish their family members come to the UK for a wedding, christening or birthdays barred from doing so by a plethora of immigration legalisation.

A byzantine policy designed to operate like trip wires, snaring the innocent along with the guilty in a complex immigration dragnet.

The effects of these policies is to deny basic human rights of migrants and settled communities who are constantly reminded that they should ‘Go Home’ by racist advertising Home Office sponsored vans and the near impossibility of maintaining family life in the UK.

Government has in effect given a green light given to increased rates of racism and anti Muslim/immigrant sentiment. Islamaphobia, institutional racism and the demonisation of immigrants are all issues that have witnessed a strong resurgence of late as the current austerity crisis tightens its grip.

The Politics of Fear. 

The serious charge against this Government is one of promoting the politics of fear in an effort to distract the British public away from the real architects of Britain financial crisis – the banks.

The Governments explicit strategy has seen the ramping up of anti immigrant rhetoric identifying immigrants as the source of the nations economic woes.

The Government is engaged in a reprehensible campaign of racial scapegoating aided by sections of the right wing media, intent on poisoning British public opinion about immigrants in a desperate attempt to win back core support that has defected to UKIP.

Their objective is to create a political smokescreen that obscures, confuses and distracts the public from identifying the bankers as the root cause of the nations economic problems.

Immigration Bill

Bringing Britain into disrepute 
The evidence for this assertion is all around us and the newly announced Immigration Bill confirms the status of people suspected of being illegal immigrants as being something akin to a sub human being, with few if any accessible legal rights and suffering the indignity of public opprobrium.

This bill is reprehensible divisive and completely unnecessary piece of legislation. It Its principle objective is to whip up racist sentiment against people perceived as ‘immigrants’,

The policy bears all the hallmarks of the Godfather of “ dog whistle” politics and Tory Party senior election guru, Lynton Crosby. It’s the kind of bigotry dressed up as serious policy that the likes of fictional character Alf Garnet would applaud.

The bill itself is immoral, irrational and likely to be expensive. Here are its main provisions, which I believe will poison social relations between British communities.

  • New powers to check driving licence applicants' immigration status
  • Cut the number of deportation decisions that can be appealed against from 17 to four 
  • Restrict the ability of immigration detainees to apply repeatedly for bail if they have previously been refused it 
  • Make it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties 
  • Clamp down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a "sham" marriage or civil partnership 
  • Require banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening bank accounts

No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish.

This scandalous provision requiries landlords to check the citizenship status of their tenants heralds the informal return of the colour bar reminiscent of the time in the 1960’s when landlords were able to display signs saying “No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish. 

Already we have reports that even before the legislation has been introduced landlords are demanding additional deposits and increased rents for anyone they suspect as being an ‘illegal immigrants” with obvious consequences.

The Myth of NHS and Welfare Benefit Tourism. 

The Government cites its intent as seeking stop the widespread practice of “ welfare benefit tourism” by immigrants. However a report by the European Commission stated that jobless EU migrants account for less than 5 per cent of those claiming social benefits in most EU states.

The planned introduction of an NHS levy for visitors to the UK will see British families with international relations becoming further isolated as they struggle to find the money to pay. Migrants and others will be deterred from seeking to access health care increasing the risk to the wider community of an epidemic of communicable diseases costing the country millions.  
The British Medical Association called the proposals a ‘ bureaucratic nightmare that will result in GPs and medical staff forced to act as immigration.
The BMA’s Dr Richard Vautrey added  “The reality is people don’t come to the UK to use the NHS, they’re more likely to come to work in the NHS.”
The planned reduction of immigration appeal rights is an attempt to subvert the judicial process that has seen the Government lose lots of immigration cases as result of legal challenge that have brutally exposed the irrational and inhumane treatment of migrants in the UK through a discriminatory decision making process administrated by UKBA .

The banking requirements will see black and ethnic minorities routinely questioned about their status as potential illegal immigrants.

Building Alliances.

We must ensure that Labour and the Lib Dems do the right thing and oppose what is a tawdry and nasty piece of legislation. The vast majority of British people want fair immigration legislation that treats all people equally, most families these days will include someone who was born abroad and that broad progressive constituency needs to be mobilised in opposition to this dangerous and potentially inflammable legislation.

That’s why, over the summer I am along with Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants worked hard and created the Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) with the intent of assembling the broadest possible alliance, reflecting all sections of society into a unified campaign to challenge the xenophobia of this Government, the media and others and provide a much needed positive platform in support of migrants and settled black and ethnic minority communities.

Trade unions, refugee and migrant groups , black community organisations, faith and religious groups, community organisations will need to unify in opposing legislation that will ramp up racism.

We need to stop the immigration bill and prepare for the forthcoming European and General elections where the issue of immigration will dominate the debate. 

MAX intend to hold a regional mobilizing meetings building toward a mass lobby of Parliament to press our MP’s to kill the bill.  Britain as a nation needs to live up to it stated ideals as a nation that upholds the principles of justice equality and fairness for all its citizens and non citizens alike regardless of their race or faith. 

 We are the majority and I do hope you will join us .

There will be an initial public meeting of MAX in the House of Commons on Wednesday 16 October (7pm - 9pm) There are regular planning meetings organised (next one is Wednesday 9 October, early evening) and we have a scratch website with notices, list of supporting organisations and individuals and the founding statement of MAX. We also have a facebook group you can join.