The Tory’s nasty new Immigration Bill is expected to pass into law this spring.
The Coalition has said that it wishes to reduce yearly net migration to the “tens of thousands”. And Home Secretary Theresa May admits that the Immigration Bill is about “making it harder for people who are here illegally to stay here”.
The new law will turn landlords and GPs into border guards.
Landlords will be required to check the immigration status of potential tenants or face a £3,000 fine. Many landlords will simply refuse to rent to anyone who looks or sounds “foreign”.
Similar checks apply to opening bank accounts and issuing driving licenses.
The Tories also intend to restrict migrants’ access to the NHS. GP practices will have to check the immigration status of potential patients.
People from outside the EU and without indefinite leave to remain will be asked to pay a further contribution towards the NHS regardless if they are already paying tax and National Insurance.
A separate charge will be introduced for international students.
Also included in the bill is a “deport now, ask questions later” system.
In future, those found to have committed a crime can be deported before their appeal is heard if they do not face “serious irreversible harm” at home.
Inconveniently for the government, “too many” migrants are having their deportations reversed on appeal so, in the face of basic justice, the bill is designed to make grounds for appeal much more limited, impossible in many cases.
Clause 14 of the bill is straightforwardly inhuman. It introduces new considerations for when a court or tribunal is asked to decide if a decision, such as deportation, breaches a person’s “right to respect for private and family life” under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Those able to speak English or the wealthy are considered less of a “burden on taxpayers” than non-English speakers or the poor and their deportation is therefore considered less in the “public interest, and in particular the economic well-being of the United Kingdom” than others.
Deportees’ private lives and relationships formed while their immigration status was “precarious” or unlawful should, it is advised, carry “little weight.”
The government has also accepted an amendment which will allow the state to strip naturalised citizens of the their citizenship if they are suspected of terrorism. Note, “suspected” not “proved to be”. However in other countries (e.g. Canada) this measure is being applied to other crimes.
The government has already given itself the right to strip dual citizens of British citizenship.
All of this is designed to create a hostile environment for migrants into the UK. Like all border controls, the new and intricate system of checks and restrictions sends out the message that all migrants are “suspect” and must be vouched for, or vouch for themselves by having plenty of cash, before gaining acceptance.
The bill chimes with the worst rhetoric coming from the far-right, legitimised by “mainstream” politicians. Just last week, UKIP MEP and party executive member Gerard Batten stood by the “charter of Muslim Understanding” he commissioned in 2006, which asked Muslims to renounce passages in the Koran.
Meanwhile, the Observer that LGBT asylum seekers have been subject to inappropriate and degrading “interrogations” about details of their sexual preferences. Immigration barrister Colin Yeo told the paper that: “The underlying problem is that officials believe everyone is a liar. It leads to a fundamental lack of respect for the people they are dealing with.”
This is the case with all border controls, which empower capitalist states to choose those workers which serve the needs of capital while forcibly and violently removing those who do not.
Socialists must demand the opening of borders and uphold the freedoms of those wishing to make a new life for themselves in another country, for whatever reason.
The labour movement needs to organise all workers, regardless of immigration status, and open its doors to migrants.
Swiss vote against migrants
A closely-fought referendum in Switzerland has returned a narrow 50.3% in favour of bringing back strict quotas on immigration from EU countries.
The quota was opposed by the Swiss government and goes against the principle of the free movement of labour between the EU and Switzerland, as enshrined in carefully negotiated bilateral agreements.
Though it is not an EU member-state, Switzerland has adopted many EU regulations. Since 2007, most EU residents have had equal access to the Swiss labour market. The result of the referendum could restrict Switzerland’s access to the EU market where over half the country's exports are sold.
The referendum campaign was led by a coalition dominated by the right-wing nationalist and anti-migrant Swiss People's Party (SVP), the largest party in the Federal Assembly.
Like many conservative parties across Europe, the SVP has been blaming migrants for job insecurity and pressures on housing and services.