Home secretary Priti Patel is pushing ahead with plans to make Britain’s racist immigration system even worse after parliament passed a new law last week.
The Immigration Act dumps free movement for European migrants when Britain officially leaves the European Union (EU) on 31 December.
It paves the way for a “points-based” immigration system. This will make it harder for people to come to Britain, and life harder for migrants who do.
Patel said the law’s passage was an “historic day” for “controlling our own borders and delivering on the people’s priorities”.
A statement from Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) slammed Patel’s “gloating” over the end of free movement. “The new immigration law will make life harder for tens of thousands of migrant workers and their families,” it said.
“They include many of the same workers in hospitals, social care and food production who were shown to be vital during the pandemic.
“It shows Priti Patel’s talk of ‘delivering on people’s priorities is a sham.
“The Conservative government should be getting the virus, with its disproportionate impact on BAME communities, under control.
“Rather, it is seeking to scapegoat migrants for stagnant wages, unemployment or falling living standards.”
The Home Office already brought in new regulations last month to set up the new points-based rules. A previous Tory law, the Immigration Act 1971, gives the home secretary sweeping powers to determine what hoops migrants have to jump through to come to Britain.
The new regulations create an arbitrary divide between “skilled workers” and those deemed “unskilled workers”. This will make it harder for migrants to work, study and make a life in Britain. The skilled worker visa requires workers to be “sponsored to do a specific job, which meets skill and salary requirements, by an employer that has been licensed by the Home Office”.
The main income threshold has been set at £25,600 a year. Migrants who earn £20,480 or more can get around the threshold if they can make up points in another category.
These include applying for a job in a sector with labour shortages.
People who come on the skilled worker visa can apply to be British subjects after six years.
The story is very different for workers who will only be able to come on a temporary six-month visa. They will not be able to take a permanent job, work a second job, access state support or some public services or bring family members to Britain.
Accepting divisions in the working class—whether between migrants and those born in Britain or “skilled” and “unskilled”—makes it easier for the Tories and bosses to push through their attacks.
Anti-racists should argue to defend free movement for EU migrants—and extend it beyond the EU’s racist border regime.