Socialist Worker

New Tory measures aim to criminalise migrants

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2353

The Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees

The Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees (Pic: Ako Khalil Zada)

The government launched a new assault on immigrants in last week’s queen’s speech.

Many of the new measures are headline grabbers rather than practical policies, but they serve the purpose of criminalising immigrants.

The speech calls for migrants to pay for NHS care and calls on landlords to check tenants’ immigration status.

Margaret Woods of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees said, “This is a disgraceful attack on immigrants and people seeking asylum.  

“David Cameron wants to divide his opposition and make people blame each other instead of the bankers, who are really destroying the lives of millions.”

Before the opening of parliament David Cameron suggested that he would lead a wider assault on immigrants, particularly from the new EU countries.

This didn’t appear. 

But in the debate that followed David Cameron told MPs, “Our immigration bill will back aspiration and end the legacy of the last government, where people could come here and expect something for nothing.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband responded to this racism by timidly stating that Labour would “look at” the government’s proposals.

It will be the detail the new immigration bill that matters which won’t appear for months. 

The measures announced in the queen’s speech are:

  • Private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. The most likely response of landlords would be to stop letting to anyone who they think is foreign—going back to the vile idea of “no blacks, no Irish” signs. Two million people own buy-to-let properties. But the government keeps no record of all such landlords.
  • “Tough action” against people who employ of illegal immigrants. This was actually introduced in 2008. The only new measure is to raise fines. The existing policy had “caused confusion among employers, discrimination against minority workers, and persecution of many small ethnic businesses by the immigration authorities,” according to Migrants’ Rights Network.
  • A promise to make temporary visitors pay for their NHS care. Minister Vince Cable was asked directly in a radio interview if this meant people taking their passports to the GP. He replied that “checks of various kinds” are under consideration. 

None of these measures will improve services for  long term residents. They will just make it harder for everyone.

Cameron also said he wants to make it easier to deport “foreign criminals”. He can only do this by abandoning the Human Rights Act, which is beyond the scope of the immigration bill. 

And he knows that of 5,000 people deported each year under the existing legislation only 180 can’t be deported because of this legislation. 

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