Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Let’s be nasty to foreigners (part 1 of too many)

We seem to be determined to be nasty to foreigners – particularly any that put a foot out of line, or appear to put a foot out of line, or might just possibly be predisposed to put a foot out of line.

We have a criminal justice system and an immigration system that at times staggers, fails and produces anomalous looking results, but surely the answer is to fix the system rather than persecute one group.

… last minute amendment to the Immigration Bill to strip terror suspects of UK citizenship. …

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Citizenship is a privilege, not a right. These proposals will strengthen the home secretary’s powers to ensure that very dangerous individuals can be excluded if it is in the public interest to do so.”

But the legal charity Reprieve has described the plan as an “alarming development” saying it would give the home secretary power to “tear up people’s passports without any need for the kind of due process”.

The main thrust of the Immigration Bill is being supported across the Commons.

The new legislation would [include]:

  • Allow foreign criminals to be deported before the outcome of their appeal is known, as long as they do not face “serious irreversible harm” at home…
  • Compel landlords to check whether tenants are in the UK illegally, with those failing to do so facing large fines
  • Force banks to check immigrants’ legal status before offering accounts…

BBC News Website 30 January 2014 Tory rebels stand firm over immigration plans

Striping someone of their citizenship because they are a suspect, as opposed to “merely” removing certain rights (such as remanding in custody) strikes me as wrong. Test: if it (removal of citizenship) happened to you or me (assuming we are both UK citizens) would we feel rightly aggrieved and would whether we were a suspect of any crime make any difference?

Fix the system. If someone is a terrorism suspect we have a duty to try them and if they are guilty to detain them so as to prevent them being a danger to fellow citizens – or fellow humans. Stripping them of their citizenship (and presumably putting them on a plane to nowhere?) does not “protect” us (the human race). It will create a sense of grievance which if the person concerned really is a “wrong un” will probably translate into retaliatory action. If the person is innocent we will have potentially turned them into supporters of such “wrong uns”.

If the appeal system takes too long or is misused, fix it. Don’t just deport someone with a pending appeal because “they are foreign”. See out the appeal; if they are guilty at the end, if appropriate lock them up so they are out of harm’s way. Deport them pending appeal and you “don’t know”; have you set a criminal loose elsewhere in the world or have you given an innocent foreigner (probably Arab or Muslim given this government’s discerning track record) a sense of grievance?

Likewise if the immigration system is failing, get it fixed. Don’t expect landlords and bank clerks to act as immigration officials. Getting employers to do this is already giving rise to anomalies – you hear of people loosing their jobs because their (British) passport has expired – therefore in the eyes of some jobsworth they are now “illegal”. One would hope that immigration officials and border control officials are better at this than random landlords, bank clerks and wages clerks. If that is not the case; again fix it. Belt and braces approaches will end up with the likes of post office clerks and traffic wardens trying to check your immigration status – a sort of “Dad’s Stasi”.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s be nasty to foreigners (part 1 of too many)

  1. From the Guardian: 29 January 2014
    Theresa May plan capable of making foreign-born terror suspects stateless
    Nick Clegg approves scheme to strip away British citizenship in move to stem Tory rebels’ support of criminals’ deportation

    Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “Liberty always said that terror suspects should be charged and tried. First politicians avoided trials for foreign nationals; now they seek the same for their own citizens.

    “This move is as irresponsible as it is unjust. It would allow British governments to dump dangerous people on the international community, but equally to punish potential innocent political dissenters without charge or trial. There is the edge of populist madness and then the abyss.”

  2. Don’t expect landlords and bank clerks to act as immigration officials. Getting employers to do this is already giving rise to anomalies

    Seems even the immigration minister fails as a part time immigration official. See BBC News Website 8 February 2014 Immigration minister Mark Harper quits over cleaner’s visa

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