Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From Scotland to Calais, immigration is not the problem

We're having a bout of immigrant bashing at the moment in the British Press. Baroness Scotland hired an illegal immigrant who'd forged her documents (and apparently that means Scotland has to resign) and the French authorities have been rounding up illegals in Calais which has made our Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, praise the "swift and decisive operation" which has filled him with "delight".

We push people to the margins of society, forbid them from working then harangue them for claiming benefits. We force people to live like animals then despise them for the conditions we have put them in. It's inhuman.

The camp in Calais is particularly disgusting where human beings, including kids, live in the most appalling conditions because we refuse to welcome them, despite the fact that immigrants are an overwhelming benefit to society.

We should not prevent people from becoming citizens and then use their second class status and poverty as evidence that they are less than us. We are less than them if we approve the morally squalid attitude that a person can be a non-person if they were born in a different place than us.

We're told that 278 people have been rounded up, of whom 132 are children, all of whom have been offered a once in a lifetime offer of "voluntary repatriation" back to Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea. Bet they can't wait.

The French immigration minister, Eric Besson, justified the misery the raids had caused saying that "The real world is not happy." Not with him in it it isn't anyway.

In the Scotland affair Labour MP Stephen Hesford, parliamentary aide to the government law officers, has resigned his minor bag carrier post because, although he has "great personal regard" for Lady Scotland, he felt she should have left her post."In my view, the facts of the case do not matter."

What a wonderful example he's setting he's setting to officers of the law - the facts do not matter. Watertight argument on display, let's make him a judge.

I'd say the facts of this case, as with any legal case, do matter. A lot. Her employee had forged documents and was settled in a long term partnership with someone she knew, and she committed no criminal offence. to hear some people talk you'd have thought she was a people trafficker. What the case does do is highlight how easily it is to turn someone who was a value for money worker (far be it from me to suggest Baroness Scotland would pay poverty wages) into a non-person.

One day she's a productive and useful member of society the next even having contact with her is a sacking offence for the great and the good. how little it took to turn her into an untouchable. As the Tories and Lib Dems use this woman as a stick to beat the government they do nothing to improve conditions for some of the most vulnerable people in this country.

I was very pleased to see Caroline Lucas launch a stinging attack on the way the authorities have treated those in the Calais camp and I think we should take this further. When Caroline states that "It is disgusting that vulnerable people from some of the world's most troubled countries are treated so inhumanely on European soil" for me that's not just about those in Calais it includes Scotland's housekeeper.


bob said...

Great post Jim.

Anonymous said...

Bless you Jim Jay. This is an excellent and compassionate post. I've been appalled at the way the people in the camps have been de-humanised by countries that are supposed to recognise and care about human rights.

Reassuring to know that not everything falls for the anti-immigration hype.