immigration policy…who does it serve?

I have been working  in an Immigration Detention Centre, a former barracks, where around 400 grown men are confined to remain while the labyrinthine Home Office processes that must explain their present condition and decide their future unfold. These men are from all over the world. Some are escaping dire, life threatening situations in their home countries. They are labelled asylum seekers. Some have come to the UK hoping to find a better life, to earn enough to send something home to their families. These are referred to as economic migrants. Some have been living legally in the UK, but have fallen foul of the law, and now find themselves liable to be deported, in the name of the war on terrorism. They will have come here straight from prison, having served their sentences. Often their only crime was to be caught using false ID papers, without which they would never have been able to escape their homelands in the first place.

What is remarkable, and humbling, is what generous spirits most of these gentlemen appear to be. They are living testimony to the notion that dire straits bring out the best in people. They have next to nothing of their own, and their prospects are bleak, yet they hardly complain at all. Rather they give thanks that they are alive, that they have food and shelter at least for the moment, are kind and thoughtful to their fellows, and are grateful for any attention they get. Even when their individual pleas to the authorities are met with such indifference, they may voice their concern, but they remain mostly optimistic, and perhaps most significantly of all, put their faith in God. 

How different from the many fortunate UK citizens outside, who have so much more than they need, yet complain constantly, and have long turned their backs on God.

The current immigration policies are in place to appease a most impressionable section of UK society, who are easily persuaded that these visitors from other lands are a threat to their pampered way of life. Their jobs, their homes, their traditions, all these are at risk, they are led to believe. Fear and ignorance once again give rise to prejudice, and in no time, the chest beaters are out baying for blood. Rather than foster an atmosphere of benevolence and understanding, the powers that be conspire with the media to uphold and adapt ever-more ineffective and inhumane immigration policies that result in malevolence and confusion. The electorate is unhappy and afraid, the immigrants are frustrated and misunderstood, the authorities feel forced to implement policies they know to be irrelevant, and nobody wins. So a cynical political exercise is maintained at great expense.

The gentlemen detained here are painfully aware that while they are confined, a great number of their fellow citizens are out there, at large in UK society. They are free through sheer good luck, because they have money, or by corruptly using the system to their advantage. So while a great deal of tax payers money is spent maintaining immigration control services, detention centres, legal services and procedures, the result is a miserable failure.

It is not unlike the war on drugs, another expensive operation that causes more problems than it solves.

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