Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
At least two new immigration bills are proposed for the 2008-9 session of parliament. They are the citizenship, immigration and borders bill and the immigration simplification bill. Together they cover the full gamut of immigration law, replacing the ten existing pieces of primary legislation. It is nothing short of a complete rewrite of the immigration laws.
The UK Borders Agency (UKBA), established as a sinisterly-described ‘shadow agency’ of the Home Office, is to gain new customs and visa powers, protecting our borders from ‘impermissible’ substances, commodities and people. Its powers will include detention without statutory limit, including detention of children.
Detention, according to the UKBA, is increasingly important in immigration policy. The ‘detention estate’ has grown from 200 places in the mid-1990s to 2,500 places today, with plans for another 1,300 to 1,500 places in the next three years. This has attracted the attention of Europe’s human rights commissioner, who also objects to the failure to set limits on detention.
Entering the country will become harder. The ‘authority to carry’ scheme will require airlines to perform real-time immigration checks on passengers, meaning no one will legally be able to travel to the UK without prior approval. The stated aim is to stop people using fake passports and visas, but the effect will be to condemn those seeking international asylum to illegal and dangerous methods of travel.
There will also be new powers of detention and questioning away from ports. This power is already applied by officials who raid small businesses daily in search of ‘illegal’ workers (always claiming the raids are ‘intelligence-led’, pre-empting accusations of illegality). Officials sometimes carry hand-held fingerprint terminals to check whether those arrested have applied for asylum or otherwise been fingerprinted.
Such technologies are increasingly important. Biometrics are taken from all visa applicants, and by December 2007 more than a million sets of fingerprints had been taken. On 24 November 2008, the first biometric ID cards were ‘rolled out’. Eventually, everyone subject to immigration control will have to carry one, and show it to do everything from opening a bank account to receiving NHS treatment or getting married. All aspects of life will be subject to immigration status.
The integration of visa, port and internal controls, together with the enhanced powers of examination, arrest, detention and powers of data collection, consolidate UKBA’s position as a powerful, autonomous border police. But structures of accountability are absent.
Alongside enhanced powers for the enforcers, the proposals erode migrants’ rights. Under the cover of ‘simplification’, anyone who is not British or a European Economic Area (EEA) national will need ‘immigration permission’ – including Commonwealth citizens who have the right to come and live here. Other ‘simplification’ proposals could replace deportation and administrative removal processes with expulsion and a re-entry ban, applicable with the same force against students who work 22 hours per week instead of 20 hours as it is against murderers.
The much-trumpeted ‘earned citizenship’ provisions reflect the facile and condescending debate over ‘British values’. They require not only testing on language and life in the UK but also longer qualifying periods, with unpaid community work used to shorten the period. Other provisions – from the requirement of bail bonds to powers to charge above the administrative cost for processing applications and to require deportees to pay the costs of their own removal – show that migrants are seen as at best a source of income.
With this inhuman and instrumental approach to migration in the ascendant, human rights and asylum (already dirty words in some quarters) look set to continue their long downward slide.
New immigration minister Phil Woolas sees his task not as educating the country in the social, political and economic benefits of an internationalist outlook, but as showing the right-wing press how tough he is on immigration. ‘It’s been too easy to get into this country in the past and it’s going to get harder,’ he tells the Times. He says employers shouldn’t employ immigrants (‘you should … attempt to fill skills shortages with your indigenous population’) and the NHS shouldn’t treat them (‘it’s not an international health service’). He adds that he has to be tough to pre-empt BNP support: ‘We’ve never had a BNP councillor [in his Oldham constituency] – I hope I’ve had something to do with that.’
But with Labour policies like this, what’s the difference? Opposition to such cynical ministerial soundbites and government policies needs to be loud, determined and principled if universal human rights are not to be undermined by little Englandism.
To view the government’s proposals visit:
Immigration Simplification Bill http://www.commonsleader.gov.uk/output/page2668.asp
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
’We believe in you. We are with you. We will never forget.’ Grenfell solidarity sweeps East London in mass banner drops from housing estates
Michael Calderbank profiles Jeremy Corbyn's new supporters in parliament
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced
India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya
North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero
The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava
France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati
This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help
PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank
Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media
I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to
We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS
Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank
Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland
Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones
The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya
The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.
An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now
The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee
Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell
Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths
Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe
How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency