Socialist Worker

Immigration controls that are designed to discriminate

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2091

The Labour government introduced draconian new immigration controls last week. By the end of the year, you will need to be a graduate with good English on £40,000 a year to seek permanent work in Britain.

Low skilled workers from outside the European Union (EU) will be effectively barred unless they submit to bonded labour.

Gordon Brown declared, “If we don’t need the skill, if you haven’t got a skill, then there’s a case for us saying that this is not the right time for you to apply to come to our country.”

In other words, it’s no entry unless you have lots of money or “we” can make lots of money from you.

All applicants will have to pass an English test – unless they have £1 million or more to invest, in which case their linguistic abilities are no longer an issue.


The new system repackages and extends Britain’s already racist rules around immigration.

Non-EU migrants are allocated points depending on the “benefit” they are meant to bring and will be allocated to one of five tiers.

Business bosses are in the top tier and get the easiest rights to entry.

For everyone else there are complex divisions in the other tiers – but all have to pass a language test and all will require “sponsors”.

These sponsors “will be expected to report any prolonged absence from work or discontinuation of studies”. This will leave migrant workers in an incredibly vulnerable position.

Despite Labour promises to the contrary, domestic workers in particular will be tied to their employer.

The immigration rules are another example of the government scapegoating immigrants for the havoc caused by its own neoliberal policies in the job market, health service, housing provision and elsewhere.

We can only begin to address those problems through united working class action, rather than through yet more divisive and racist restrictions on immigration.

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Article information

Tue 4 Mar 2008, 19:06 GMT
Issue No. 2091
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