Our skewed immigration policy


by Sunny
28th August, 2007 at 10:32 pm    

The British right has, over the past decade or so, made such a stink about immigration in this country that any sense of fairness, humanity or competence seems to have been drained out of the system. I have friends who work with the Home Office and declare the place is falling apart. The extent to which any sense of “fair play”, which people claim is a strong British trait, has been chucked out of the window is demonstrated in the case of Pegah Emambakhsh.

This 40 year old woman is due to be deported back to Iran where she will almost certainly be prosecuted and executed for being a lesbian and engaging in “adultery” (a common practice in the Islamic Republic). Our government cannot legally deport people who are likely to be tortured when they arrive back in their country of origin, thankfully, but it seems deporting homosexuals despite the threat of execution is ok. Brett on Harry’s Place highlighted this case last week.

Now it seems even the Italians are willing to do more than our Home Secretary.

The case of Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, has become front-page news in Italy while going almost unreported in Britain. Today, a leading member of the rightwing opposition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, joined a government minister in proposing Ms Emambakhsh should be given asylum in Italy if Britain insisted that she had to leave.

Ms Emambakhsh fled Iran and applied for asylum in Britain two years ago. After her disappearance, her father had been seized and tortured to force him to disclose her whereabouts.

The spokesman for Everyone said that, under Iranian law, the punishment for lesbianism was 100 strokes of the cane, administered in public. But he said that Ms Emambakhsh, who had been declared “an enemy of public order” on websites close to the Iranian authorities, risked death by stoning or hanging.


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Middle East






23 Comments below   |  

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  1. Nyrone — on 29th August, 2007 at 12:02 am  

    Suitcases could be filled with identical case-studies of this nature.

    My friend at the RLC has said that the Home Office should just come out with it and be honest: That they effectively wish to stop taking people. Better do that then make it all but impossible for them to claim asylum.

    I’m guessing that besides the venom of the right, the goverment also seriously mis-calculated the consequences of EU free movement over the past few years, and this has led to more noose-tightening.

  2. Clairwil — on 29th August, 2007 at 12:11 am  

    Spot on Nyrone. Thank God Italy is willing step in. There are times when the governments actions beggar belief.

  3. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 29th August, 2007 at 12:40 am  

    Didnt you know everyone in Iran is gay?

  4. Puffy — on 29th August, 2007 at 7:35 am  

    Babies and bathwater. Sadly the asylum policy, suitable for the Cold War, is not fit for purpose in a globalised world so people whose lives are at genuine risk and put in the same basket as economic migrants.

    What we need is a govt. that has the courage to completely reform our immigration system. The trouble is, I believe, that although Labour is content to meddle around the edges, it wants to retain the materialist “open door” policy over that of maintaining coherent communities. Completely confusing officials in the process – ie, pay lip service to concerns about immigration, yet keep the door open because the economy’s booming.

  5. Nyrone — on 29th August, 2007 at 9:31 am  

    The problem with the Asylum claims, is that how can we ever really know who is telling the truth and who is lying? What system will successfully judge this?

    I know from first-hand experience that many Pakistani folk lie through their teeth to get in and loads of Jamican people lie and claim that they are gay to gain Asylum too. In a way, this is also leading to a situation where war-torn residents from Eritrea are being turned back because they claimed in an interview that they got to the station at 10.30pm instead of 10.15.

    It’s just an endless bunch of spiderwebs, how do you reform such a system?

  6. Bleh — on 29th August, 2007 at 10:09 am  

    It’s just an endless bunch of spiderwebs, how do you reform such a system?

    Its quite simple:

    We have two categories of acceptable immigrants:

    1) People whose skills we need, and who have passed through an Australian-style points programme or have a work permit, which may, depended upon behaviour, be converted into citizenship at a later date.

    2) People (and their children etc) who have come *directly* to the UK or to a UK Embassy/Territory/Representative and whose lives are threatened or in danger. That means those people who travel through a dozen safe countries to get here and then claim asylum should all a priori be denied.

    Apart from these two exceptions, *no immigration whatsoever*.

    People who do lodge legimate asylum claims should be given a temporary work permit, which will allow them to work and pay tax like everyone else. This permit can be revoked if their claim is unsuccessful, or converted into citizenship if successful.

  7. Puffy — on 29th August, 2007 at 3:48 pm  

    Gets my vote.

  8. Don — on 29th August, 2007 at 5:55 pm  

    I never vote for any policy which takes a complex tangle of issues and declares, ‘It’s quite simple’.

  9. Robert — on 29th August, 2007 at 5:57 pm  

    2) People (and their children etc) who have come *directly* to the UK or to a UK Embassy/Territory/Representative and whose lives are threatened or in danger. That means those people who travel through a dozen safe countries to get here and then claim asylum should all a priori be denied.

    I think part of the problem is defining what a “safe” country is. It would only result in the UK denying asylum on the basis that they passed through what the Home Office deem to be “safe”, when in fact it is not. So this shifts the same administrative problem around.

    So this policy only works if all the countries between the UK and the country in question have a unified stance on the matter. Perhaps all the countries on the continent should form some kind of ‘union’ to push this through?

    I don’t see why people get irritated with asylum seekers choosing our country over others. We should surely be flattered that they wish to be a part of our British system, and not (say, the French or the Ukrainians). If I was fleeing famine, pestilence, religious intoleration, sexual abuse, AIDS, ethnic cleansing, zero-education etcetera, I would maked dammned sure I claimed asylum in the nicest place possible. Asylum is a ‘supply and demand’ problem. Sure, we can make the “pull” factors less attractive, but weakening the “push” factors is surely more humane.

  10. Gibs — on 29th August, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

    The real scandal about Britain’s “skewed immigration policy” is that in order to meet the ‘deportation targets’ set out by Tony Blair, the home office is more likely to deport people who are “easier” to deport than those who deserve to be deported.

    Therefore a Filipino who worked illegally as a maid and cleaner for below minimum wage and had the misfortune to be found out is much more likely to be deported than a radical cleric who openly preached death to non believers and homosexuals.

    This is simply because the latter is more likely to call upon the Human Rights Act whereas the former, being totally ignorant of her rights, is likely to “go quietly”.

  11. Rumbold — on 29th August, 2007 at 10:20 pm  

    Sunny:

    “The British right has, over the past decade or so, made such a stink about immigration in this country that any sense of fairness, humanity or competence seems to have been drained out of the system.”

    So the immigration system worked better under the Conservatives eh? Interesting.

    As somebody who is staunchly pro-immigration myself, I do worry that there is increasingly a backlash against immigrants, especially when it comes to housing and other public services. I believe that people who are legally entitled to come into this country should have access to the same services, otherwise we are treating our immigrants as second-class citizens, which is wrong.

    The debate at the moment is focused on numbers, but why not have more of a discussion about density? Scotland has a tenth of the population of England, so why not encourage more immigrants to move there? You could do so by pointing out that they have a better chance of getting a council house there, and other benefits. Better voluntary dispersal would suck the poison out of the BNP’s and friends’ bigoted arguments, causing them to loose most of their ‘protest’ support, leaving them with an insignificant hard-right rump, which will always be there whatever we do.

    Then we can have a proper immigration system, which does not send persecuted people to Iran or Zimbabwe, and which will have a better chance of fairness because there will be less shrill debate. The right has played its part in damaging the debate on immigration, as it sometimes plays on populist fears, but the left is also guilty, since for years it labelled anybody who wanted to debate immigration reform as a racist. We have to move beyond that if we do not want our immigration system to be viewed as a joke and used by the BNP for electoral gain.

  12. Bleh — on 29th August, 2007 at 10:56 pm  

    Scotland has a tenth of the population of England, so why not encourage more immigrants to move there?

    My idea for solving the Northern Ireland problem was to build a new Hong Kong on the coast off Belfast and invite the entire Hong Kong populace over. Hey presto, 6 million Hong Kongese and only 1.5 million NI folks. Problem solved. *grins*

  13. Rumbold — on 29th August, 2007 at 11:15 pm  

    Why not just swap the populations? That would seem eminently more pratical.

  14. Soso — on 29th August, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

    There’s plenty of room in America for people like her.

    If she could get to Mexico, then cross the Rio Grande, she’d be home free.

    Doing it the honest way doesn’t work. You have to get into the country and become a fact-on-the-ground to be taken seriously

    Europe has tired of asylum seekers, but the U.S. needs people and would give her a better hearing.

  15. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 12:19 am  

    but why not have more of a discussion about density? Scotland has a tenth of the population of England, so why not encourage more immigrants to move there?

    I agree. But people don’t ask my opinion when making decisions to move to this country :(

  16. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 1:22 am  

    Why not just swap the populations? That would seem eminently more pratical.

    Give me five million hard working and industrious Hong Kong people any day of the week.

    The way we abandoned Hong Kong was a disgrace, frankly.

  17. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 1:31 am  

    I don’t see why people get irritated with asylum seekers choosing our country over others.

    The ones who ignore 20 safe, first world countries on the way to the UK are not interested in fleeing from tyranny, but rather in feathering their own nests.

    And leaving aside the point, that apart from the arse-end of Scotland and Wales, there’s just too many people in this country.

  18. Don — on 30th August, 2007 at 2:17 am  

    ‘The ones who ignore 20 safe, first world countries on the way to the UK…’

    They’re coming by Euro-rail?

    I can’t believe how simplistic and uninformed some of the comments have been. Scotland is relatively sparsely populated for a reason – most of it won’t support a large population. It did once, it might again; but unless you have a plan to make re-population viable then you’re whistling in the wind.

    As for the idea that we can have some sort of check-list which will put people into three neat categories, it’s sophomoric.

  19. Puffy — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:44 am  

    Heh-heh, yes Don, perhaps we could reintroduce a pre-enclosure Highland culture to the glens along with the wolves? Could be a bit chilly for yer average Somali, but them folks are sure tough. And they know all about clans…

  20. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2007 at 11:51 am  

    Don:

    “I can’t believe how simplistic and uninformed some of the comments have been. Scotland is relatively sparsely populated for a reason – most of it won’t support a large population.”

    It can support more people then it does presently- Scotland’s population is not really growing, despite English subsidies for healthcare, as deep-fried Mars Bars are helping to shorten lifespans. And why not try and populate some of the more barren areas?

  21. Boyo — on 30th August, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    Aye… if you ask me you can blame most of the ills of modern Britain on Scots – Blair, Brown, Cameron, Campbell. Not an Englishman (or for that matter Welshman or Anglo-Indian or Afro-Caribbean) among them.

    The liberal left make the Tories seem actually multicultural. Ok I know Cameron’s a Scot, but before that we had four English, one a woman, another a Jew. Diversity indeed! I bet you’re more likely to see an Anglo-Indian Tory PM than a liberal…

  22. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2007 at 2:44 pm  

    We already have had an Anglo-Indian Tory PM, for fifteen years:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Liverpool

    “It is now generally accepted that Lord Liverpool was of Anglo-Indian descent.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Indian

    “The Anglo-Indian community in its proper sense is a distinct (and statistically very small) minority community (0.018%-0.036% of the total population in India) originating in India, consisting of people of mixed British and Indian ancestry whose native language is English. An Anglo-Indian’s British ancestry was usually bequeathed paternally. Article 366(2) of the Indian Constitution defines an Anglo-Indian as “a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only”.[2] Under this definition, the mestiços (mixed Portuguese and Indian) of Goa are also included.”

    The Conservatvies gave us our first ethnic minority PM, our first non-Christian PM (sort of- Disraeli), and our first female PM- the true progressive party. Has there ever been a Liberal/Labour PM who was not Anglo-Saxon, white, Christian and male?

  23. MaidMarian — on 2nd September, 2007 at 11:20 pm  

    With all respect, the article rather misses the point. Immigration as a debate moved a long way from the laughably simplistic notion of ‘British fair play’ and ‘doing the right thing’ a very long time ago.

    Of course the Immigration Authorities want fewer cases like this, that much should be obvious to anyone. The reason is because the press has a ready made slag-off article with every one of these cases. The steady drip-drip of cases such as this have undermined the system and public confidence. The quality of decisions stopped being the most important factor some time ago. The old aphorism that good people go out and be good, very good people go out an look good is so apt with immigration.

    The article says that the immigration system is falling apart, it is not clear how direct an experience of the system this conclusion is based on. When I was going through my wife’s immigration process what I found was people working hard in a ludicrously overblown system under (fair and unfair) pressures from the press.

    No doubt politicians must share some of the blame for both the chaos in the system and that cases like that in the article are turned down. But journalists ad writers may like to dwell on the role that their Colleagues have played in bringing us to this point, and indeed the feeble way in which journalists have been unable to make any immigration positive coverage stick.

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