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The government’s new plan for immigration must be rejected

TONY CONWAY condemns a new statement on immigration rules that only worsens the situation for migrants and ignores mounting public criticism

A HOME OFFICE document presented to the Commons in July makes some bold claims and further restricts rights of movement into Britain in a way that could impact many citizens.  

This plan is in fact nothing new, it just reaffirms Britain’s restrictive policies. It ignores the failings highlighted by the Williams report into the Windrush affair and it fails to respond to the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration’s report into small boat crossings in the Channel.   

It fails to mention Britain’s international obligations at all — obligations which require it to honour commitments to refugees and asylum-seekers whatever route they are forced to take. I could see no mention of victims of slavery.   

Given the statement is supported by the Home Secretary, it will of course say nothing about Britain’s imperialist role, both past and present, which drives much of the immigration into Britain.

The fact it praises the “world-leading” Rwanda deportation scheme shows it to be full of hubris, given the facts. The scheme was not signed off by the Home Office permanent secretary, has been criticised by the home affairs select committee, is being challenged in the Supreme Court by a number of bodies including the union which represents Home Office staff, PCS, and by a large number of social bodies and anti-racist groups.  

It praises the Britain’s role in Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine — but the three schemes highlighted are hardly great successes.  

Hong Kong was of course political and direct interference by a post-colonial power, but even so it is more form than substance: only 100,000 people applied for a limited form of British nationality and it is not clear how many people travelled to Britain.

Arrangements in Afghanistan were slow to be put into place and have been widely criticised as putting people at risk and forcing people to escape via Pakistan.  

And Britain had taken in only 86,600 Ukrainian visa holders by June this year.  

In all three cases applications had to be made online and on compatible equipment.   

The points-based visa scheme is heralded as a world leader. But as has been said by many, being directly linked to an employer is a major flaw.

As the UCU has said, linking to employers is a major problem when it comes to matters such as employment rights and ignores the fact that people do not generally stay in one area or with one employer.   

The failure to deal with citizenship and employment rights are glaring omissions which show the document as being anti-working class. But again, from its own argument it fails to recognise the complaints of bodies such as the National Farmers Union.  

The statement talks about customers, efficiency and democratic control. Unlikely bedfellows in reality. It makes wild claims about frictionless borders, without taking any responsibility for the massive queues at airports and ports. It states clearly that visa data will be shared across agencies.   

It continues with the “hostile environment” and will rely totally on online data to prove citizenship. It fails to recognise the fact that due to the lack of safe routes into Britain, most people will come via other means.   

This statement, Priti Patel claims, enhances our sense of nationhood. Not for most people who believe in solidarity and cross-community support. The statement must be condemned and repudiated.

Tony Conway is the Communist Party of Britain’s anti-racist lead.

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