UK Prime Minister goes one step further (and too far !) in his bid to curb immigration

Georgina Siklosy, ENAR Communication Officer

21 October 2011 - Last week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech on immigration that he "wants everyone in the country" to help "reclaim our borders" by reporting suspected ‘illegal’ immigrants. Mr. Cameron has said people should report suspicions to Crimestoppers, an organisation fighting crime, and the UK Border Agency. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, the US states of Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Georgia have recently passed new laws to stop and search anyone who may potentially be an undocumented migrant.

This is a disturbing reflection of the increasing focus on so-called ‘illegal’ migrants, not only in Europe but also in the United States. The proposals echo the systematic suspicion brought against migrants and an increasing tendency of migration policies solely focusing on tightening immigration rules and fighting against ‘illegal’ migration, not only in the US and the UK but across Europe. Only now the UK government wants its citizens to take part in this ‘quest’.

Beyond the ridicule of trying to practically spot and report “potentially undocumented migrants” (everyone is supposed to read here “Blacks and Asians”), these measures bring unpleasant memories of witch hunts. They do not only go against the principles of a tolerant and democratic society but are extremely dangerous as they inevitably stir up suspicion, hostility, prejudice and hate in local communities and do serious damage to social cohesion and harmony. As one’s “legal” status is not visible up front, skin colour, clothes and garments, language and other visible outfits will be reinforced as indicators of “potentially illegal” status – further ostracising and victimising migrants and ethnic minorities.

We have also seen that in France and Germany for instance, citizens and organisations working with migrants can be criminalised for providing assistance and support to migrants, including to irregular migrants. Will this be the next step in the UK and elsewhere in Europe as well ?

In any case, it is not up to citizens to do the job of law enforcement bodies in migration matters. If governments want to implement control measures that will infringe on the fundamental rights of individuals – wherever they are coming from and whatever their “legal” status, refusing to collaborate to such processes as a citizen is an act of resistance against oppressive and anti-liberal measures.

But beyond this principled reminder, let’s not fail to see that this is one further attempt by governments to instrumentalise migration control to divert the majority community’s attention from the massive cuts in public spending currently undertaken by most of them, whilst not making the slightest effort to regulate financial markets and better redistribute wealth in our societies. Western EU societies have never been as rich as today, but the benefits generated by the hard work of workers and employees, migrant or not, “legal” or not, are siphoned off by a small percentage of the population.

Our societies are wealthy enough to support all residents irrespective of their “legal” status, provided governments take appropriate measures to redistribute money and reinvest in public services (health, education, transport…). The number 1 priority of citizens is NOT migration control but getting a decent job and accommodation. Instead of taking measures to improve the lives of his fellow citizens, Mr Cameron, like most of his European and American peers, prefers to organise the war of the poor against the poor.

Let’s recognise that it’s easier, more attractive and cost effective to avoid debating the core functioning of our societies !

People ! Do not fall into the trap ! Resist by showing solidarity and signalling to Mr Cameron that we aspire to live in dignity and not to denounce our less fortunate brothers and sisters just seeking a better future.


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