Tories are trying to put much of the anti-immigrant bile from home secretary Theresa May’s conference speech into law.
The Tories’ Immigration Bill was due to have its second reading on Tuesday of this week. It aims to make people blame migrants for economic problems.
The bill attacks both “economic migrants” and the desperate refugees who have fled wars like the one in Syria.
May’s conference speech on Tuesday of last week launched a vicious attack on migrants.
She said migrants offer “zero” economic benefits and make a “cohesive society” impossible.
May said that this is what makes schools and hospitals unable to cope. She is directing attention away from the government cuts that are really causing these crises.
For migrants in Britain the most offensive part of the bill is the Right to Rent. It makes landlords responsible for checking the immigration status of people they rent to.
Some 42 percent of landlords in a Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants survey said this would make them less likely to let to people without a British passport.
And 27 percent went further, admitting they would be reluctant to let to anyone with a “foreign” sounding accent or name.
Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham quite rightly called this, “The modern equivalent of the ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ signs”.
He added, “By being more insidious, such casual discrimination will be far harder to challenge.”
This is true, but it is a pity that Labour didn’t just oppose the bill outright. Instead it is supporting stronger border controls.
The bill also plans to stop and search vessels at sea to check that no migrants are on board.
Meanwhile conditions in refugee camps in Jordan have become so awful that some Syrians have chosen to return to the warzone.
Some 300 lawyers have written a letter to newspapers calling for Britain to take far more than the 20,000 the government has agreed to over the next five years.
The letter demands safe travel for refugees. And it calls for a rejection of the “dysfunctional” Dublin system that demands people claim refugee status in the first European Union country they arrive in.
It points out that the obvious way to beat the profiteering people traffickers is to provide safe alternative means of transport.
In her speech May boasted that Britain has accepted more than 5,000 refugees from Syria since 2011.
But Oxfam has said that Britain would have to take 21,000 by the end of next year as a “fair share” of those coming to Europe.
One retired judge told the BBC, “Around the Balkan crisis we were receiving around 75,000 a year. It was within our capability. We managed it well.”