Having a better immigration system also means returning immigrants


11:20 am - July 28th 2010

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contribution by Tim Finch

You know government policy is in trouble when on the same day it is attacked by both a High Court judge and its own independent inspector.

That is what happened yesterday to the Home Office over important aspects of their returns policy – with the High Court ruling the fast track deportation process ‘unlawful’ and the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency criticising the use of dawn raids and the treatment of families.

But it is just too easy for people who want a more sympathetic approach towards migrants to greet these developments as victories against those ‘nasty’ people in the Home Office.

Of course it is important to use campaigns and legal challenges to stop the inequities and injustices that scar our immigration system. But the cause of migrants’ rights is not going to be advanced just by frustrating the system. The system has to be changed.

There is no point – as often happens in reports by academics and NGOs – coming up with visions for a perfect immigration system that delivers absolutely everything else, but which misses out a crucial element: return. It’s a dirty word in some parts of the migration world but it needs to be confronted, so I will say it again: return.

Any alternative system lacks all credibility if it does not include better and faster ways of returning migrants who are judged, after a fair hearing, to have no right to remain in the UK.

Quite simply, the electorate demands that this happens – and the politicians and therefore the policy makers have to take that into account. They do not have the luxury of just ignoring mainstream opinion, as ‘No Borders’ groups and their ilk are happy to do.

Moreover, the ability to return people who have entered illegally, violated their visas or been refused asylum is not just popular, it is right. There need to be safeguards so that people can challenge decisions of course, but in the end rules are the rules – and they should be applied and supported. Although a campaigner for migrants rights myself I have always found it difficult to deal with some in the migration sector who seem to glory in seeing immigration rules widely ignored or flouted.

Fortunately there are some positive signs that the government and the migration sector are moving towards a more cooperative spirit around the sensitive issue of return – and related issues. The Still Human, Still Here coalition has been involved in long discussions with UKBA around the issue of asylum seeker destitution.

More recently, a group of NGOs involved in the Outcry Campaign have been working with officials to come up with compromise solutions to end the practice of detaining children while ensuring that the government retains instruments to effect or facilitate family return.

This is the way forward. The bitter battles over immigration of the last decade have been great for the lawyers, but done little in the long run to protect migrants or deliver a better immigration system. It is through discussion and negotiation that progress will really be made.

—-
Tim Finch is Head of Migration, Equalities and Citizenship at ippr.

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Reader comments


I think this article would make more sense to me if it included examples of these supposed reports and NGOs which ignore the issue of return. At the moment it reads a bit like a fierce attack on a straw man.

#1 I don’t think this article is attacking NGOs, it’s attacking activists and in particular No Borders activists. It has no constructive purpose; it’s purely destructive so my response will be rather short-tempered.

The article ignores the reasons why people enter illegally, overstay on visas and are refused asylum. They do so as a consequence of immigration controls.

And frankly, it is not the job of No Borders groups or their “ilk” to placate mainstream opinion, but to reverse it, and to oppose immigration controls wherever they exist. That is done partly through frustrating the system, which also has direct human benefits for those oppressed by it.

You also know full well that the right-wing utopia of being able to return migrants immediately is a legal fiction under any “fair” system. For example, it’s often difficult to prove what country someone is from.

How much progress has been made through “discussion and negotiation” over the last decade? By all means go and do it if you think you can deliver some improvements that way – many of us think it is a doomed mission but I wish you luck. But there is no need to simultaneously chuck rocks at people who are doing something more practical in opposing immigration controls where they exist and trying to build a consensus that they are unnecessary and unjust.

But it is just too easy for people who want a more sympathetic approach towards migrants to greet these developments as victories against those ‘nasty’ people in the Home Office.

Whether or not people in the Home Office are nasty, their policies certainly are – deliberately so in order to give the impression to the public of being “tough” on the issue. And the attitude and behaviour of UK Border Agency and the security firms charged with removing people certainly appears to be pretty nasty in some cases.

Of course it is important to use campaigns and legal challenges to stop the inequities and injustices that scar our immigration system. But the cause of migrants’ rights is not going to be advanced just by frustrating the system. The system has to be changed.

Of course it has, no one is arguing otherwise, but the current system stinks and until it is changed I am happy to see it frustrated.

There are two arguments that need separating here: process and outcome.

Just about every system can be modelled as having input, which is subjected to a process, which produces output/outcomes. An immigration system is no different. ippr do great work to ensure the process part of the system is humane, but then don’t engage nearly enough in the greater debate about what the actual outcomes of a just immigration system should be. They are happy to follow mainstream opinion on this, as moulded by the tabloid press.

Compare this to another issue: capital punishment. The majority of people support the death penalty, so following the author’s argument, the state would be entitled execute people according to the wish of mainstream opinion, so long as the process that leads to the electric chair’s switch being pulled is humane.

Every small step that can be made towards a humane immigration policy is to be welcomed, but unless we question the fundamental immorality of denying people the right to move about, we’re in the business of turd polishing.

I’ve never really got arguments against immigration. Surely if we have freedom of capital then we should have freedom of labour (as we do quite rightly in the EU)? I don’t think bashing No Boarders is helpful either. Why not go for the racist and xenophobic posturing of the Express, for example? “One in 5 will be ethnics” being one of their latest delightful, life-enriching, headlines.

6. gwenhwyfaer

Quite simply, the electorate demands that this happens – and the politicians and therefore the policy makers have to take that into account. They do not have the luxury of just ignoring mainstream opinion

Yes they do. Mainstream opinion wouldn’t be averse to a supertax. Mainstream opinion would like to see the return of hanging. Mainstream opinion doesn’t really see the point of those civil liberty things, when all they seem to do is help crooks get away with it. Those are just three examples. In fact, more generally, it’s precisely the job of politicians to ignore mainstream opinion, in the interests of raising the debate. Otherwise we might as well give up on representative democracy altogether and put every issue to a vote – or worse, elect the kind of populist politicians who would very quickly never offer us the option of a vote again.

7. gwenhwyfaer

More to the point – immigration is still not a high enough priority to win elections, as one can observe by the complete stasis of the BNP vote (sure, the national percentage increased in 2010, but only because they put up more candidates – the average number of votes per candidate was almost exactly the same as in 2005, about 1650). That makes it an issue ripe for pushing under the political rug. Nobody cares enough, except for a very small group of VERY shouty idiots.

@9

“Nobody cares enough, except for a very small group of VERY shouty idiots.”

Agreed… though it was interesting to see the furious back-pedalling going on in the reporting of the Cameroons expedition to India: seems like the Indians ARE rather interested in our immigration policies. Interesting to see Uncle Vince twist the knife in the guts of coalition policy on immigration too…..

9. gwenhwyfaer

And whilst we’re on the topic of shouty idiots:

One Iranian who was accepted as a queer fleeing in peril of his life went back to Iran to get marrried some months after he’d been granted asylum.

I’m sure you have two decent newspaper references for this.

Afghans have done both in Scandiinavia

Now most reasonable people, taking a second to think about what conditions are actually like in Afghanistan and how resourceful someone would have to be to escape it in the first place, might consider “I’m an Afghan” to be sufficient grounds for asylum in the first place, not to mention an indication that someone is exactly the kind of person who would do credit to any nation in which they happened to establish themselves. But not said shouty idiots, who apparently regard every other nation as having conditions so far beneath those in this sceptred isle that their entire populations would decamp here in a second, and therefore see Afghanistan and Somalia as nothing particularly different from the hell on earth that is France or Denmark, or the nightmare socialist oppression of Sweden.

Public whippings would be popular, too.

And perhaps, when the football season is in its summer lull, trained jobseekers could be given swords and set to hacking each other to pieces, and the long-term disabled could be popped in with a couple of lions? Hmm… you’re probably nodding approvingly, aren’t you, Sooty? Must be all that lead poisoning…

10. Dick the Prick

@ Galen 10 – yeah, bit of confusion between Lord Vince & CallmeDave yesterday, however, the cap on immigration that came in a week ago is just for economic migrants rather than the illegal thing. Dishing out £4.5k in Calais so people saunter off back err…home! is a little bit daunting in its apparent gibberish.

I guess (being a right-wingnut that i am) on paper illegals should be ‘returned’ after due process and Tim Finch is right to draw reference to both the High Court’s decision that fast tracking seems to be bollox and we’ve all heard the incredibly monstrous conditions associated with Yarl’s Wood. But there needs to be separation of those who claim assylum and those who are taking the piss. What benefit does Britain have to offer than any other Euro country doesn’t? Why do people flush (fake?) passports down the bogs on airplanes, risk their lives under lorries and stuff to get here? Of all places?

It’s a massive problem (and not just for the cynics who watch voting stats) for infrastructure to plan – what’s the ideal population? 65 mill, 70 mill, 80, etc. There’s that (widely disputed) report using Tesco sales figures that estimates UK population is already 90 million.

I’ve no idea really but cheers for the pragmatic article Tim. At least it ain’t quite yet Arizona!

11. gwenhwyfaer

What benefit does Britain have to offer than any other Euro country doesn’t?

The most widely spoken second language on the planet? An historic reputation for acceptance and liberalism that still hasn’t quite died out despite the best efforts of three decades’ governments? Still being in the EU, with all the advantages that brings, but being as far as possible within it from the country they’re running away from? Being the only European country to stalwartly oppose that kind of oppression in the Second World War – of any country, surely this would be the one least likely to collapse into theocracy or fascism?

I can tell you what it isn’t, though. When you’re living in fear of your life, what you’re going to live on in the new country is not at the top of your list of concerns. Being safe is. My hunch is that the UK is seen as the safest country. Why on earth would anyone want to change that?

12. Dick the Prick

@14 – send an e-mail to Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s twitter Tsar and also MP for Mogadishu East. She’ll be able to tell ya, although her office is currently being used as Ed Balls’ campaign HQ…so, maybe in a week she’ll have more time on her hands to ignore your request.

13. gwenhwyfaer

Sooty said:

Supposedly Somalis and Ethioians are neck-and-neck in contending for the title of being the ethno-cultural group most given to living on benefits rather than working, a fact which must distress the Nigerians and Pakistanis dreadfully.

I’m quoting this here because I fully expect that the mods will delete your comment(s) very soon, given this blatant example of racism. I want people to know where you’re coming from before they waste time trying to reason with you. Certainly our discussion is now concluded. If you were not immune to reason, you wouldn’t say something so grotesque as this in the first place. Nor would you demand that an entire system be scrapped on the basis of two anecdotes pulled straight from the tabloids (if you’d bothered to check further, you would have seen that the “gay Iranian getting married” tale came from a Norwegian red-top somewhat akin to the Mirror).

@19

No, Sooty, you are. Using up valuable oxygen and internet space that could be used by something useful like a webcam of paint drying.

‘but it needs to be confronted, so I will say it again: …’
The IPPR apologise on behalf of the Labour Party who they are closely aligned to for the years of human rights abuses enacted by the UKBA under the directions of the Home Office. Then we can perhaps have a discourse in good faith.

16. Dick the Prick

@21 – RickB. There should be an acceptance that under Labour organisations suffered from service creep; that they expanded exponetially by dangling shiny things in front of ministers. Sorry, Simon Hughes & Peter Hain are having a hand-bag and it’s rather disgusting. Soz, err…oh my God; it genuinely has come to this. And now Gavin Esler ….ffffffucket sake.

17. Ryan Bestford

“The bitter battles over immigration of the last decade have been great for the lawyers.”

Tell that to the dedicated immigration lawyers of Refugee and Migrant Justice (currently standing outside the job centre).

Over the last decade legal aid for foreign nationals in the UK has been severely reduced, restricting an immigration lawyer’s ability to provide effective legal representation in a system that is already heavily weighted in favour of the Home Office.

The last decade has seen the immigration laws tighten while funding has been restricted. On the whole, the immigration lawyers that fight for their clients do so, not because it is profitable, but because it is right to challenge the state when it threatens to return people to possible persecution, torture, inhumane treatment, degrading treatment or death.

18. Dick the Prick

@23 – Hey, Ryan

“but because it is right to challenge the state when it threatens to return people to possible persecution, torture, inhumane treatment, degrading treatment or death”

Think you meant “but because it is a right” as in, you know, life stuff and such giving validity to holding an opinion that which was in cintravention of British Government rules that they’d be involved in any of the provocative language above. It doesn’t make sense. Sure, challenge the state, but that’s what town halls are for.

I think the points made @ 2, 3, 4, and 5 have set the tone of a discussion like this somewhat dishonestly. Or if that’s not the right word, then perhaps, with too much partizanship.

There’s nothing wrong with being partizan and being for no borders, but I find that the arguments and ways of dealing with people who might point out flaws in these arguments usually undermines the ability of having a proper discussion.

Just for example, in the posts I’ve just mentioned, we have tim f saying that he is going to be ‘short-tempered’ in his reply to the OP.

The article ignores the reasons why people enter illegally, overstay on visas and are refused asylum. They do so as a consequence of immigration controls.

Fine, but most beople do want strong border controls and think that we’ve had too much immigration.

That’s negated in the next post who says that it’s because the immigration system stinks and so is happy to see it frustrated (undermined).

Duncan Scott says ”Every small step that can be made towards a humane immigration policy is to be welcomed” ….. and that again apears to be open borders – which is fair enough, but lets just admit that it’s a revolutionary position whch could see tens of millions of people from poorer countries moving to where things were better and needing a comlete rethinking of things such as welfare and unemployment provision.
What if economies couldn’t afford it. Or the infractructres of housing and transport?

I’m not saying I’m against that btw, but I’m not going to mock the ‘great unwashed’ who don’t quite get what’s in in for them, but could point out loads of drawbacks of our populations growing and having more places become like our most diverse inner city neighbourhoods are now.
Not everyone wants to live in a place like Hackney or Brent with thier often challenging social problems.

It seems that argument is dealt with by suggesting anyone who has a problem with that is a simple racist. Any arguments about increasing poverty coming into areas that large numbers of poor immigrants settle in are usually brushed aside as being the fault of capitalism or something. The poorest boroughs in England are often the ones with the higest rates of new low skilled ethnic minorities and immigrants.

I know there’s a socialist workers party answer to all this, but I’ve never been able to take them seriously.

If the way of answering this post was to be ”short-tempered’ then I can’t really see what’s the point of such a discussion forum. Usually things like I just said are mostly ignored I’ve found.
This link below explains what I mean by that.
http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/9331#comment-214374

Can anyone think of a case where someone was “returned” from the UK that made you genuinely think “whew, I’m so glad that person never managed to obtain a visa!”

I certainly can’t.

I think when you say a system that doesn’t include returns lacks “credibility” what you actually mean is that it lacks political popularity. There are enough racists and morons in this country to make a fair system of immigration impossible. Side effect of democracy, and we can’t vote ourselves a new electorate, so here we are.

Yes, we have to have some form of returns process to appease the voracious God that our mighty sovereignty/border/national pride whatnot has become to our particularly insular little island people. Yes, while we have to appease this god, we might as well try and do it in as fair a way as possible. But let us not for a moment that “returns” is basically throwing virgins into a volcano, and it doesn’t matter how nice and polite and democratic you are, you’re still doing something mostly pointless, symbolic and inhumane.

Damon

while I do favour no border controls, I don’t think it is revolutionary. It wasn’t a revolution in 2004 when citizens of many of the A8 countries were granted open access to the UK, and it won’t be a revolution when Turkish citizens gain access to EU member states either. I don’t think a single, moderate-sized country can realistically go it alone and offer free inward movement by itself – it requires a shift in policy across neighbouring countries moving together. Internally, free movement within the EU has been of great benefit to all its citizens. I’d like to see similar moves to unite other continents of the world. Once that is established, we can begin opening the continental borders to free movement. Reform, not revolution.

I would never call anyone who worries about the effect of a growing population on a country’s infrastructure racist, indeed I have never seen anyone make it. But the unavoidable outcome of limiting immigration to restrain a country’s population growth is immoral: it requires a country to discriminate based on nationality. We don’t get to choose our nationality, just like we don’t choose our sex or race. That’s what makes immigration controls fundamentally immoral, and as repulsive as sexism or racism.

Not necessarily racist. But mostly pretty naive. Migratory flows are resource-driven and have been since we left the savannah. The harder you enforce border restrictions the more you increase illegal im/emigration, with a corresponding trade-off in terms of welfare and human rights. Net migratory flows don’t really drop that much until you hit the Gaza Strip level of virtual prisonhood. They certainly don’t drop as much as intended – taking away 10,000 visa places does not result in 10,000 less people crossing the border. It might cut that by half, maybe, but replacing 10,000 legal immigrants with 5,000 illegal ones isn’t exactly benefiting anyone, is it?

If we stopped behaving like a bunch of scared little Canutes about it we might be able to approach the issue sensibly.

#25

The reason I was short-tempered in this case was because I’ve heard the author of the post speak, I’ve heard him admit in principle he’s in favour of immigration controls just that he doesn’t think we can sell it to the public right now, and I know that he knows the arguments against some of the more ridiculous bits of his post, it’s just he’s chosen to make this argument apparently just to insult people a bit further to the left than him who it would be better to be allies with (or if that’s too much, just let them get on with it without attacking them).

I responded in partisan fashion because I thought the original post was partisan, and even dishonest.

Sooty, no one here is interested in your V-Dare like comments. You’re a sockpuppet who has turned up in several guises over the last several months. ”Goodthinkful people” along with quoting V-Dare give it away.
”Edna Welthorpe” was one past incarnation I believe.

28, 29 and 30 – fair points, but it would be good to get this defined even closer.
People from the ‘third world’ have shown that great numbers of them will move to where they think things might be better as we have seen in countless reports.

The Mediterranean is being crossed clandestinely from the west to the east, with hundreds of people drowning in the process.

People are even trying to walk over the border into Israel.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGXL4xHy6M4

People from West Africa have been heading out into the Atlantic Ocean heading for the Canary Islands, and a tactic when they make it to land, is to not say where they are from, or lie about it. Are you taking all this into consideration?

These Tamils got as far as Indonesia trying to get into Australia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ05vzWkaIw
Should Australia just sent out some ships to Sri Lanka and tell anyone who wants to go to Australia just to get on board?

I would say yes personally, just because it would make life much more interesting, and it would be good for the people who could make new lives …. but because my view is a minority one, I feel I have to give some respect to the popular view that would not agree.

Here is the controversial bit. If people in Brighton don’t want their town to have an ethnic profile like for example, Wembley or Lambeth, does that make them racists?

While inner city areas that have had influxes of immigrants from third world countries over the years make themselves anew, and become new societies – and people, particularly children going to school get used to it very quickly, there are plenty of people who don’t necessarly want to live in the middle of a population freshly arrived from some of the worlds war zones, or where people have strange religious practices like was shown on the Dispatches programme on monday night.
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-67/episode-1

One church alone where this exorcism is practiced has 34,000 members in Britain.

Discussing things like this with people on the left in the past, it’s around here I’ve found where you (one) hits the brick wall. And you find it cannot go further.
You almost hear the tumbleweed rolling across cyberspace, because that’s something that doesn’t fit with the world view.

I’m open to all kinds of ideas, and have read most of this open borders stuff on this website (below). But there are still things I either don’t get or disagree with.
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/issues/C137/

Here is the controversial bit. If people in Brighton don’t want their town to have an ethnic profile like for example, Wembley or Lambeth, does that make them racists?

Um, yes?

The Catholics practice exorcism, my man. Ain’t nothing funnier about anyone else’s whacked out religious practices than we’ve got going on our own doorstep. What, we going to kick up a fuss if Hasidic Jews want to move in because we don’t like their funny hairstyles and rabbinical divorce courts?

People have a right to not want to live in a place with Arabs and Asians in it, but, yes, that does make them racist. Not necessarily KKK/VDare level racist I’ll dare say, but who ever said it had to be? You get get plenty racist just from the kind of “what about them ethnics, eh?” undercurrent stuff that we’ve probably all grown up with.

Everyone’s got or had a grandma who thinks “English” and “White” are synonyms, I’d wager. They got every right to their opinion, and fair enough nobody wants to upset their grandma, but I don’t believe that it’s our job to bend over and kiss their asses about it, especially when the demands that are being made are to use the power of the state to remove freedom of movement and association on the basis of ethnicity. And especially especially when the state is demonstrably not able to do anything about actual migratory pressures and instead just shifts people out of sight and into a black economy that ends up fucking everyone over.

You want us to agree that it’s a good idea to support bad laws that don’t work because someone in Brighton doesn’t want to share their town center with none of those blacks? I’m not taking that cheque to my local branch of the Bank of Argument, sir, I got a feeling it’s going to bounce.

Australia needs more Tamils!

Now!

SAY IT LOUD!

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7475/

EVERYONE IS WELCOME HERE!

There really isn’t anything like an article on immigration to bring out the racist fucknuts brigade, is there?

I thought it was us libruls who were supposed to be standing in the way of “open and honest debate” on the issue? How come nobody can get 20 comments in without some pissant little white boy hollering about how those ethnics is all criminals and we never had crime before black people got here or some such bullshit like that? That ain’t us lefty faggotarians bringing that noise. I know on the internet it’s not like you can control the company you keep, but damn.

There really isn’t anything like an article on immigration to bring out the racist fucknuts brigade, is there?

That’s the way it always seems to go McDuff. It seems that people on both wings of this argument prefer it that way.

Is anyone aware of the situation in the Republic of Ireland? It’s really interesting, but quite different to the UK I think. There they have lots of hostels they keep asylum seekers in, giving them full bed and board, but only about 20 Euros a week spending money. And while they turn the majority of asylum cases down, the asylum seekers seem to have endles grounds to appeal and just refuse to leave.

Have a look at this (very liberal) current affairs programme from a couple of weeks ago, about governmenment plans to reduce the numbers at a former holiday camp on the coast north of Dublin. They guys interviewed at the beginning of it have been there for five years.
http://www.tv3.ie/videos.php?video=24453&locID=1.65.169&date=2010-07-07&date_mode=&page=2&show_cal=&newspanel=&showspanel=&web_only=&full_episodes

There are 800 people at that camp, and the government wanted to move 150 of them into other hostels in other parts of the country.
Which led to protests there and threats of hunger strikes.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2010/0703/1224273904657.html

The culture of fighting the Irish government’s asylum and deportation system is very strong it seems. You don’t take no for an answer seems to be the stance many have adopted.

I only mention this, because on an Irish political forum I read, there seems to be this constant left and right battle over the issue of immigration and asylum too, with someone only having to point out that the majority of the asylum seekers in the Republic have been refused asylum and had mostly passed through several countries to get to Ireland, and many had made claims previously in places like the UK …… it only takes one person to say something like that, before some SWP type lefty will come out and say: ”You racist. Where did you read that? On Stormfront?”

Look, here’s a thread on that very TV programme I linked to.
http://www.politics.ie/foreign-affairs/133217-vincent-browne-asylum-seekers.html

I find it’s such a pity that debate online can never really seem to get beyond that.
See the last comment on page one, which just says:

Soory -just stumbled into the racist rush hour!

Makes you wonder what the alternative is for these people, that 20 euros a week plus bed and board is a life in comparison, doesn’t it? I know *I’d* leave that mess in a hot second.

Of course, that’s the thing about the clusterfuck. The people, they are going to come. If they can’t get visas they’ll try for asylum. Migratory pressures, man. People go where the good hunting’s at, same as every other species on this godforsaken little rock. In the efforts to stop them coming over, we shifted a proportion into the black market, and end up funding more of them in detention centres and B&Bs while we sort out their bullshit asylum cases. We ain’t stopping shit.

Give ’em work permits. Works out better for everyone. Including, might I add, the white working class who feel like the immigrants are “taking all the jobs”. It’s a lot easier to compete with minimum wage than it is to compete with off the books illegals earning half that.

Here’s a ready-made script for an Ealing comedy …

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1298691/Vicar-guilty-conducting-360-sham-marriages-illegal-African-immigrants.html

Seaside town, bent vicar, bride and groom who never met …

Where is the late Sid James and the late Benny Hill when we need them?

How about this:

Asylum seekers get a draw – 1 chance in 5 that they get U.K. citizenship on the spot and the other 4 are sent along to Huntingdon Life Sciences to replace the poor beagles and guinea pigs.

Those who refuse this offer will be soundly whipped, branded and tatooed, and sent back to Trashcanistan.

See how easy that was?

Who the hell are these fucking trolls?

Trolls are a pain McDuff, but the more important issue is the inability of the left (just in my opinion) to deal with this issue honestly.
And this thread has been another example of that.
The thread is now done and dusted. Yesterday’s story, and everyone who wanted to comment has done so and moved on.

And what did we get? People calling for open borders, but not allowing that position to be scrutinised in meaningful detail. Sure, there were a couple of replys, but only a fraction of the amount of time was spent really getting to grips with the issue like would be needed.

For example – and maybe it was discussed in detail before, but this controversial essay by David Goodhart in 2004 titled ‘Discomfort of strangers’ could be a good starting point for discussion
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/feb/24/race.eu.

But McDuff just dismissed that with these words (as to whether it was racist for people in Brighton to not want their town to have a demographic make the same as places like Brent and Lambeth – which have serious social issues of poverty and crime).

Um, yes?

The Catholics practice exorcism, my man. Ain’t nothing funnier about anyone else’s whacked out religious practices than we’ve got going on our own doorstep. What, we going to kick up a fuss if Hasidic Jews want to move in because we don’t like their funny hairstyles and rabbinical divorce courts?

It was a dodge really I think.

Now maybe that is just grown up adversarial politics, where you have your position and you just go through the motions of pretending to have a debate, somewhat like Primeminister’s Question Time. ”Ya boo, ya boo, ya boo ……. next question please”.

We laugh at the ”Little Englanders” reading their Daily Mails and being cross about the story that Harry linked to in post 31.
”Vicar conducts 360 sham marriages for illegal immigrants in Sussex – ha ha – and the Daily Mail brigade don’t like it – it’s so funny – screw them and their racist ideas of what Britain is.”

That’s how the left seem to be. I don’t like that way of talking issues myself, because as I said, I find it dishonest – and elitist too. If a majority of people in Britain do want immigration from third world countries restricted (even if that is called racist) then I think that democracy would say they have a right to be heard.

But anyway, the circus has left town and I presume I’m talking to myself.

You asked if it’s racist for people to not want their neighbourhoods to have a particular ethnic makeup, and cited specifically as an example of the reasons behind that desire to keep things nice and white a particular religious practice.

The answer to that question is, yes, my friend, that right there is some racism. And I ain’t in the mood to pussyfoot around what is actually a simple answer to a simple question.

Now, if you ask me if people want their commuities to have a crime problem, that ain’t racism. But what I don’t see is where we start making this autoconnect that just because we have hot pockets of correlation between crime and some ethnic stripes in some cities that this is a causative mechanism. Where I’m from, everyone’s white and everyone’s been here goddamn generations, and we’ve still got drugs and unemployment and people getting beaten up and stabbed.

Further, you ain’t listening to the actual point that I have made repeatedly here. The racists in Middle England have a democratic right to decide that they want the sun to rise in the west if they want to. Over in the USA certain august democratic bodies appeased their electorates by deciding that pi=3. There is, however, a limit to democracy inasmuch as if it’s impossible for the will of the people to be expressed by the executives they have elected to enforce that will, their democratic majority doesn’t mean a piss in the wind.

Drugs are illegal and we still sell drugs, and the people who sell drugs are the kind of people who don’t mind breaking the law. We limit the number of visas and we don’t stop people coming into the country. We stand on our shores and say “no more!” and the people say “what, I couldn’t hear you inside this shipping container?” You cut down overall numbers, although to be fucking brutal there’s this thing call “The EU” you may have heard of which means it’s pretty pointless talking about 300 people from Sierra Leone, but what you get when you do that is an increase in the illegal, underground activity which is far more damaging to “social cohesion” than someone opening a halal butchers. You cut numbers but increase the concentration of bad shit.

The harder you crack down, especially if you play a numbers game with visas and deportations, the more false positives and easy targets get taken out by the bureaucratic machinery, the more human beings get beat up, raped, locked in prisons by our government for the crime of being foreign without a license, and all for what? So we can say we’re “being tough” while the black immigration market thrives just like the black drugs market?

You seem to be labouring under the misguided assumption that migratory flows are something that governments can control, like they can go find some tap somewhere and turn the stream on and off. I mean, aside from the real brute force methods of starting or not starting a war and causing a refugee crisis, or building a Gaza style concentration camp with checkpoints on people going in and out, I ain’t ever seen any evidence that this is so. What I have seen are lots of people pissing around all over the world trying to achieve something they have no hope in hell of achieving, and other people trying to discuss the academic and democratic underpinnings of just how big a dam one man on a raft should build in order to stop the waves. It is plain nonsense. And I’m not saying that because it’s left or right or racist or whatever. I could give a shit. I’m saying it because we’re setting ourselves up as the arbiters of a fucking force of nature, and hubris is one clear way towards awful policies.

So how about we stop talking about the reasons or rationales behind our supposed immigration controls, and start talking about the methods and mechanisms by which it is proposed we do such things. Let us talk about how inhumane we must be, how many false asylum positives and negatives we will tolerate, what we expect the net reduction in immigration to be as a result of such policies, and whether said result is expected to make any more difference than a bumblebee’s fart in a hurricane.

Until we break that open, the whole “you lefties aren’t talking about it honestly” is the same old bullshit it always has been. “Honestly”? What in Christ do you even mean by that? I’m “honestly” telling you that you need to stop talking about what Mrs Bloggs in Brighton wants and “honestly” start talking about what it’s reasonable for her to expect from an elected government that is not, last time I checked, made up of Batman, Chuck Norris and Jesus Christ himself come back again.

I don’t care if people are racist. Just answer the question. How is it that we give these racist/not-racist/I-could-give-a-shit people in Hypothetical Brighton what they want without significantly curtailing human rights or fucking our own selves over along the way? If the answer to that is, as I cynically but pretty reasonably suspect, “we can’t”, then who gives a flying fuck what they want or why they want it? They can’t have it any more than I can have a unicorn-powered rocketship.

I don’t disagree with some of your points McDuff. Trying to halt migratory pressures is like trying to hold back the tide. The USA has eleven million illegals, and ”getting tough” is not really an option. Not a humane one anyway.

I’m from south London and am now living in Belfast, and the contrast couldn’t be starker diversity wise. There has been a long standing Chinese community here, and until recently that was about it. While there are more and more ethnic minority people here, the discouragement to working class mobility because of the sectarian geography, it’s still is a place where people leave their front doors open. Something that is unheard of in similar working class streets in London.
Unless of course it was a particularly close community of a certain type, like for example a block of flats in Tower Hamlets east London, where a landing might have every single flat being occupied by a Bangladeshi community who were so close that the women were in and out of each others houses all the time in the same way that still happens in Belfast.

The open front door culture of Belfast is quite fragile though, and relys on people feeling very at home in their street and for them to know practically everyone who comes down it.

I’m not thinking that this can come back to parts of inner cities in England, and am not fussed that it does not exist anymore, I’m just trying to point out one consequence of extreme diversity. I’m also not suggesting that new diverse community relations can’t develop. I know that they can. But sometimes they jost don’t work and sometimes they need to be worked at hard.

You seem like a sensible chap McDuff. Have a listen to this radio documentary sometime about a very multi-cultural neighbourhood in Amsterdam.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/documentary_archive/6563371.stm

When I read and write on a subject like this, I’m looking for the arguments I would use to the Jewish people of Amsterdam who might think that allowing so many muslim immigrants to come to Holland had affected their lives for the worse. Because they were likely to be jeered at in the street if they walked past a cafe of muslim men on their way to synagogue as happened in that radio programme.

When they might ask ”what was in it for us?” to let people who had dubious opinions on ”the Jews” move to Holland, and I’d say …….what?
It would probably be a very correct and rightious answer that might not find favour with people who didn’t have time for intelectual left wing ideology.

As I say, I don’t disagree with you overall McDuff, but I am not so ready to cut myself off from the more lumpen public (the majority it seems) and become a sneering lefty who laughs ”Let them eat cake” or something. (Shit perhaps).

According to their MP, ”over half Of Brent’s children are living in poverty”.
http://www.brentlibdems.org.uk/news/000491/over_half_of_brents_children_living_in_poverty__teather.html
If people in Brighton fear that that kind of poverty could come to their town because of its population becoming like Brent’s, then that’s not racism.

And in fact ‘race’ is not really the biggest factor. It depends on who and when people came to the borough. Many people of Indian origin who came to England decades ago are doing very well in Brent, and so are their children.
The Afro-Caribbean community has faired less well, and many new immigrants are still struggling to find their feet.
Brent is one of those ”f’irst port of call” immigration hotspots, and the transient nature of the population and the development of a bedsitland culture, and of course it becoming a place for illegal immigrants to live, all add to the burden shared by the community as a whole.

When I read and write on a subject like this, I’m looking for the arguments I would use to the Jewish people of Amsterdam who might think that allowing so many muslim immigrants to come to Holland had affected their lives for the worse.

Is “what short memories you have” not good enough? Would these people specifically request that the government discriminate on the basis of religion? And might they not see, perhaps, a teensy little problem with doing that sort of thing in Europe?

The problems of social cohesion you describe are hardly immigration related. They occur just as much with urban-rural migration within countries. Inner city USA crime has been exacerbated by “white flight” sucking tax revenue for services out to the suburbs and exurbs. The issue is not that “immigration” causes these problems, but that human migratory patterns in general can cause disruption to existing static communities. This is an end result of living in a city. I’d argue that Belfast is far from being the rule in this case, much more the exception, and this because of particular circumstances which it is unwise to suggest that other cities follow.

However, attempting to put a stop to these ebbs and flows of human populations is largely pointless, as you yourself admit. This means that any resources attempting to stem it are wasted, particularly as in many cases they exacerbate the disruption. If transient populations were not kept in limbo as they waited for the border services to get their heads out of their asses then you would see different patterns of movement, and much less illegal activity as populations would not be deliberately kept on the margins of society by public policy.

If this is true, then such spending is not just pointless but counterproductive. Better use of government resources would be to address the provision and administration of services in a population with a certain proportion of temporary and transient members. I fail entirely to see why such an approach is impossible, given that the local councils of Birmingham and Manchester can more or less sort it out if I move between the locations under the purviews of their respective local governments. Sans passport and fingerprint scans, even.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Having a better immigration system also means returning immigrants http://bit.ly/aXclpc

  2. Rick

    RT @libcon: Having a better immigration system also means returning immigrants http://bit.ly/aXclpc

  3. Immigration Tips

    Having a better immigration system also means returning immigrants …: Of course it is important to use campaigns… http://bit.ly/aihPDS

  4. jessica sims

    Facile assessment- Fair system would incl no racism (remember monkey scandal @ HO?) or being beaten onto planes @libcon http://bit.ly/aXclpc

  5. bob newton

    Having a better immigration system also means returning immigrants …: Of course it is important to use campaigns… http://bit.ly/avTVt8

  6. Ryan Bestford

    "The bitter battles over immigration of the last decade have been great for the lawyers" – http://bit.ly/cQp3tq (via @LibCon) Imploding..NOW

  7. Why our immigration system needs an overhaul | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Finch from ippr is right to call for the immigration system to be changed, highlighting the inequalities and injustices that scar the […]





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