Open Letter: Immigration Bill 2013-2014

Dear Editor

We are writing regarding the UK Immigration Bill 2013-14. We feel compelled to speak out against the Bill: as researchers who dispute the assumptions that underlie the Bill; as educators concerned about the impact on our international students and colleagues, who form a substantial presence in our programmes and critically contribute to academic life; and as members of society concerned by the likely human and social impacts of the Bill (See Migrants Rights Network briefing).

The underlying discourse of the Immigration Bill blames immigration for the intense insecurity and fear for the future that so many of us face, and pits the interests of migrants against the interests of ‘British workers’. It is based on the false division between ‘us and them’ – and the assumption that if migrants are not excluded then they will take British workers’ jobs and place an unbearable strain on state finances and services. These ideas are not backed by research, and we suggest that they are false (for instance on the myth of migrants being a burden on the NHS see here).

The government’s agendas for immigration, austerity and welfare reform are increasingly intertwined in politicians’ speeches and the media. All are based on the principle that for most of us, access to necessities should be dependent solely on our usefulness to employers. Increased conditionality in the provision of welfare support goes together with the co-option of a range of professionals to act as border guards, policing access to resources on the basis of immigration status. This normalises the idea of the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor, which creates pressure for all workers to accept lower wages and poorer conditions of employment.

The government states that the measures in the Immigration Bill will tackle irregular migration by creating a ‘hostile environment’, but this is far more likely to increase irregular migration by driving large numbers of migrants underground. There is a significant body of research showing that immigration restrictions leave many migrants vulnerable to exploitation (see research by the ILO and the IOM), with negative consequences for everyone. This is why trade unions in the UK have taken a clear stance against the Immigration Bill as workers and their organisations realise that, as long as migrants are treated unequally and do not join the same struggles for better conditions, they are all going to be weaker. It is time to change the terms of the debate, to build an alternative to the politics of austerity and exclusion through solidarity and cooperation instead of division.

Dr Tom Vickers, Northumbria University
Dr Gabriella Alberti, University of Leeds
Dr Hannah Lewis, University of Leeds
Dr Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University
Prof Max Farrar, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr Kate Hardy, University of Leeds
Prof Sian Moore, UWE Bristol
Dr Jo Ingold, University of Leeds
John Ward, University of Leeds
Dr Benjamin Selwyn University of Sussex
Dr Jo Grady, University of Leicester
Prof Sonia McKay London Metropolitan University
Prof Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster
Dr Rosa Mas Giralt, University of Leeds
Prof Stephanie Tailby, University of West of England
Dr Rutvica Andrijasevic, University of Leicester
Prof Chris Ford, University of Leeds
Dr Hazel Conley, Queen Mary University of London
Prof Andrew Watterson, University of Stirling
Dr Paul Brook, University of Leicester
Gabriela Quevedo, University of Nottingham (PhD student)
Prof Miguel Martinez Lucio , University of Manchester
Dr Lefteris Kretsos, University of Greenwich
Dr Mara Ferreri, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Anna Parkevopoulou, London Metropolitan University
Zinovijus Ciupijus, University of Leeds
Dr Dave Wray, University of Greenwich
Dr Katy Long, University of Edinburgh
Dr Stuart Hodkinson, University of Leeds
Stacey Hunter, University of Edinburgh (PhD student)
Dr Keith Halfacree, Swansea University
Arezu Bari, Newcastle University (PhD student)
Camilla Royle, Kings College London (student)
Emma Kerry, University of Leeds (PhD student)
Dr. Hannah Morgan Cross, University of Westminster
Prof Phil O’Keefe, Northumbria University
Dr Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds
Dr John Lever, Huddersfield University
Prof Kevin Hylton, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr Peter Lugosi, Oxford Brookes University
Prof Jonathan Long, Leeds Metropolitan University
Prof Dr Ibrahim Sirkeci, Regent’s University London
Prof. Gary Craig, Durham University
Prof Paul Routledge, University of Leeds
Elena Vacchelli, Middlesex University
Dr. Andrew Wilbur, University of Glasgow
Dr. Saurabh Arora, University of Sussex
Claire Reddleman, Goldsmiths University of London (PhD student)
Life Fellow Hugo Radice, University of Leeds
Dr Steve Garner, The Open University
Dr Roiyah Saltus, University of South Wales
Dr Michele Lobo, Deakin University, Australia
Dr Susan Mains, University of Dundee
Dr Maki Kimura, University College London
Dr Malcolm James, City University, London
Dr Harshad Keval, Canterbury Christ Church University
Prof John Gledhill, University of Manchester
Dr Andrew Wilbur, University of Glasgow
Ralitsa Hiteva, University of Sussex (PhD student)
Marguerite Bryant, University of Sheffield (PhD student)
Dr David Storey, University of Worcester
Dr Michael Keary, Aberystwyth University
Dr Gavin Brown, University of Leicester
Dr Alex Coad, University of Sussex
Dr Helen Yaffe, University of Leicester
Dr Stef Jansen, University of Manchester
Dr Matej Blazek, Loughborough University
Dr Derek Kirton, University of Kent
Dr Brenna Bhandar, School of Oriental and African Studies
Prof Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick
Dr Tommaso Ciarli, University of Sussex
Dr Madeleine Reeves, University of Manchester
Dr Michelle Obeid, University of Manchester
Dr Soumhya Vekatesan, University of Manchester
Dr Teresa Piacentini, University of Glasgow
Dr Ala Sirriyeh, Keele University
Dr Aurelien Mondon, University of Bath
Prof Matt Baillie-Smith, Northumbria University
Dr Tamsin Barber, Oxford Brookes University
Dr Siobhan Holohan, Keel University
Dr Charles Leddy-Owen, University of Portsmouth
Dr Ulrike M Vieten, University of Sheffield
Prof James W. McAuley, University of Huddersfield
Dr Aaron Winter, Abertay University
Dr Alexandra Kokoli, Middlesex University
Dr Stefan Lawrence, Southampton Solent University
Prof Robert Moore, University of Liverpool
Dr Leena Kumarappan, London Metropolitan University
Prof Jane Holgate, University of Leeds
Imran Awan, Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology, Birmingham City University
Dr Monish Bhatia, University of Abertay Dundee
Dr Ghazala Mir, University of Leeds
Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London
Helen Charnley, Durham University
Dr Cecily Jones
Dr Daniela Sime, University of Strathclyde
Dr Simon Goodman, Coventry University
Dr Christopher Hart, Lancaster University
Dr Andy Smith, University of Glasgow
Dr Bridget Byrne, University of Manchester
Dr Naaz Rashid, University of Manchester
Prof Mark R D Johnson, De Montfort University
Dr Darryl Humble, Northumbria University
Dr Victoria Redclift, University of Surrey
Dr Dean Wilson, Plymouth University
Debra Hayes, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr. Neil Howard, Marie Curie Research Fellow, European University Institute
Prof Larry Ray, University of Kent
Dr Karen Evans, University of Liverpool
Nicola Horsley, London South Bank University
Dr Andreas Dimopoulos, Brunel University
Dr Frank Houghton, Limerick Institute of Technology
Dr Hugh Crosfield, Royal Holloway University of London
Dr Philip Brown, University of Salford
Prof Mima Cattan, Northumbria University
Prof Jennie Popay, Lancaster University
Dr Gurnam Singh, Coventry University
Melanie Crofts, University of Northampton
Dr Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln
Prof Ludi Simpson, University of Manchester
Dr Akwugo Emejulu, University of Edinburgh
Kait Laughlin, University of the West of Scotland
Prof Heaven Crawley, Swansea University
Dr Sarah C. White, University of Bath
Dr Melissa Fernández, London School of Economics
Dr Ron Mendel, University of Northampton
Dr Vicki Squire, University of Warwick
Dr Kurt Mills, University of Glasgow
Dr Jacqueline Haq, Newcastle University
Dr Gina Netto, Heriot-Watt University
Dr Mark Doidge, University of Brighton
Dr Barbara Samaluk, University of Greenwich Business School
Dr Jayan Nayar, University of Warwick
Dr Emma Jackson, University of Glasgow
Dr Graham Smith, University of Northampton
Prof Luke Martell, University of Sussex
Dr Michael Bailey, University of Essex
Dr Jon Dean, Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Sally Hines, University of Leeds
Dr Trude Sundberg, University of Kent
Anna Bull, Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Alex Stevens, University of Kent
Dr Steven Roberts, University of Kent
Dr Malcolm MacLean, University of Gloucestershire
Dr Mark Cresswell, Durham University
Dr Kim Allen, Manchester Metropolitan University
Prof Christopher Rootes, University of Kent
Dr Bob Jeffery, Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Dermot O’Reilly, Lancaster University
Dr Leon Moosavi, University of Liverpool
Dr Imogen Tyler, Lancaster University
Dr Damien Short, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Prof Jo Brewis, University of Leicester
Tim Palazon, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Dr Andrew Wallace, University of Lincoln
Dr John Moore, UWE Bristol
Dr Patricia Hynes, University of Bedfordshire
Prof Alison Phipps, University of Glagow
Jez Buffin, University of Central Lancashire
Prof Catherine Pope, Univerisity of Southampton
Dr Moya Flynn, University of Glasgow
Dr Waqas Tufail, University of Chester
Dr Chris Gilligan, University of the West of Scotland
Dr Jim Lusted, University of Northampton
Dr Say Burgin, University of Leeds
Dr Victoria Canning, Liverpool John Moores University
Prof Michael Pickering, Loughborough University
Dr Nick Gill, University of Exeter
Dr Paul Anderson, University of Warwick
Dr Peter Millward, Liverpool John Moores University
Dr Kallia Manoussaki, University of the West of Scotland
Dr Fauzia Ahmad, University College London
Dr Simone Hancox, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr Debbie Nicholson, University of the West of Scotland
Lorenza Antonucci, University of the West of Scotland
Prof Willy Maley, University of Glasgow
Yassamine Mather, University of Glasgow
Dr J. Iain McPhee, University of the West of Scotland
Dr Vassiliki Kolocotroni, University of Glasgow
Daniel Jakopovich, University of Cambridge
Dr Nilufar Ahmed, Cardiff University
Elvira Doghem-Rashid, Kings College London
Gordon Asher, University of the West of Scotland
Dr Evelyn Arizpe, University of Glasgow
Prof Harriet Ward, Loughborough University
Dr Emily Wykes, University of Nottingham
Dr Daniel Chernilo, Loughborough University
Dr Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick
Dr Hannah Jones , University of Warwick
Dr Albert Persaud, careif and Queen Mary’s School of Medicine & Dentistry
Dr Maud Bracke, History, University of Glasgow
Dr Simon Murray, University of Glasgow
Dr Shamser Sinha, University Campus Suffolk
Dr Robert Gibb, University of Glasgow
Dr Christian Hennig, University College London
Dr Geoff Bright, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Will Jackson, Liverpool John Moores University
Dr Ben Pitcher, University of Westminster
Prof Les Back, Goldsmiths University of London
Prof Rebecca Kay, University of Glasgow
Dr Eleni Hatzidimitriadou, Kingston University and St George’s University of London
Dr Rachael Dobson, Kingston University
Dr Parvati Raghuram , Open University
Dr Ian Fitzgerald, Northumbria University
Dr Louise Waite, University of Leeds
Rumana Hashem, University of East London
Dr John Clayton, Northumbria University
Dr Linda MacKay, University of the West of Scotland
Nick Cartwright, University of Northampton
Dr Ima Jackson, Glasgow Caledonian University
Prof Ian Law, University of Leeds
Dr Elisa Wynne-Hughes, Cardiff University
Dr Phyllis Ferguson, University of Oxford
Sonal Shah, University of Birmingham
Dr Lani Russell, Glasgow Caledonian University
Dr Gareth Mulvey, University of Glasgow
Dr Bethan Harries, University of Manchester
Dr Kehinde Andrews, Newman University, Birmingham
Dr Ross White, University of Glasgow
Prof Laurence Gruer, Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow
Prof Christine McCourt, City University London
Dr Leticia Sabsay, The Open University
Dr Lucy Michael, University of Hull
Dr Philomena de Lima, University of the Highlands & Islands
Dr Davide Pero, University of Nottingham
Dr Joshua Skoczylis, University of Lincoln
Dr Yasmeen Narayan, Birkbeck College University of London
Dr Rowena Arshad, University of Edinburgh
Alessio D’Angelo, Middlesex University
Prof Jacqui Akhurst, York St John University
Dr Diana Yeh, Birkbeck College University of London
Prof Nira Yuval-Davis, University of East London
Dr Judy Redman, Sheffield Hallam university
Prof Ravinder Barn, Royal Holloway University of London
Prof Denise Ferreira da Silva, Queen Mary, University of London
Prof Jenny Phillimore, University of Birmingham
Dr Nicki Thorogood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr Susie Jacobs, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Sara R. Farris, Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Sara Ahmed, Goldsmiths University of London
Dr Stephen Spencer, Sheffield Hallam University
Prof Ali Rattansi, City University London
Dr June Edmunds, University of Essex
Dr Karem Roitman, Open University
Prof Nick Fox, University of Sheffield
Dr Jason Lim, University of Brighton
Julie McAdam, University of Glasgow
Dr Lucy Williams, University of Kent
Dr Hartwig Pautz, University of the West of Scotland
Dr Julian Simpson, The University of Manchester
Sivamohan Valluvan, University of Manchester
Dr Barbara Howard-Hunt, Birmingham City University
Dr Bindi Shah, University of Southampton
Dr Koen Leurs, London School of Economics
Dr Leah Bassel, University of Leicester
Graham Jeffery, University of the West of Scotland
Prof Nigel Waters, George Mason University USA
Prof Donna Baines, McMaster University Canada
Prof Devi Sacchetto, University of Padua, Italy
Prof. Dr. Sabine Broeck, University of Bremen
Dr Takahiro Chino, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Isabel Soto, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, SPAIN
Kjartan Sveinsson, London School of Economics (PhD student)
Lucy Mort, Manchester Metropolitan University (PhD student)
Sitara Thobani, University of Oxford (PhD student)
Jasbinder S. Nijjar, Brunel University (PhD student)
Claire Gregory, De Montfort University (PhD student)
Dieuwertje Dyi Huijg, University of Manchester (PhD student)
Angie Ng, Durham University (PhD student)
Anisa Mustafa, University of Nottingham (PhD student)
Claire Bynner, University of Glasgow (PhD student)
Ewa Duda-Mikulin, University of Salford (PhD student)
Daniel Jakopovich, University of Cambridge (PhD student)
Victoria Armstrong, Durham University (PhD student)
Shani Burke, Loughborough University (PhD student)
Ashok Patnaik, University of Huddersfield (PhD student)
Natalie Soleiman, Keele University (PhD student)
Gwyneth Lonergan, University of Manchester (PhD student)
Ayar Ata, London South Bank University (PhD student)
Licia Cianetti, University College London (PhD student)
Kieran Hamilton, University of the West of Scotland (PhD student)
Anna Beesley, University of Glasgow (PhD student)
Terese Jonsson, London Metropolitan University (PhD student)
Lorenzo Vianelli, University of Warwick (PhD student)
Kathryn Medien, University of Warwick (PhD student)
Dr Judith Offman, Intervention Research Manager, Breast Cancer Care
Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, Fahamu Refugee Programme
Dr Natalia Paszkiewicz, Research and Policy Coordinator, Independent Academic Research Studies
Hilary Burrage, consultant Sociologist
John Grayson, Independent Researcher, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group
Dr Jan Cambridge, Public Service Interpreting Consultancy
Beryl Nicholson, independent scholar
Dr Indra Dewan, independent researcher
Janet Shapiro, retired London Metropolitan University, National Pensioners Convention
Josephine Smith, Glasgow Kelvin College

Romanian and Bulgarian migrants – it’s not immigration but xenophobia we should be discussing

by Malcolm James and Naaz Rashid for Open Democracy

Behind the smokescreen of inaccurate economic figures and scare stories, the political decisions being taken by the Coalition are largely about legitimising xenophobia to cover the ineptitude of the ruling class.

As the conference season closes and the next general election comes into sight, the major political parties are clamouring to set out their political stalls. One issue continues to be salient, crossing party political boundaries. Yet again, immigration is the clarion call. Today’s scapegoats for Britain’s dismantled welfare state are the A2 migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

Read more

How politicians and the media made us hate immigrants

by Chitra Nagarajan for Open Democracy

Politicians and the press are locked in a cycle of increasing anti-immigrant rhetoric, presented as ‘uncomfortable truth’. Yet the problem is not immigration but socio-economic inequality. Poverty and exclusion are faced by working class people of all backgrounds.
Read More

‘Go Home’ campaign: A public meeting on supporting immigrants in London

Following on from the outrage about the Go Home vans and the immigration spot checks at transport hubs around London, a public meeting has been organised in Southall by RAMFEL, Migrant Rights Network, AARX and SBS to support refugee and migrant activists and interested individuals. The meeting will: provide an update on what has happened; explain the rights of those targeted for immigration checks and stop and search; explain what groups and individuals can do to campaign at a local and national level; and explain how to respond to the various national consultations. The meeting will also look at the issue of the Go Home campaign posters at the reporting centre in Hounslow.

Details as follows:
Date: Thursday 19th September 2013
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Address: Southall Day Centre – Milap Branch, Shackleton Road, (off Lady Margaret Road) Southall, Middlesex UB1 2QH

Has your MP signed up to stop the Go Home campaign?

An Early Day Motion has been tabled by MPs, criticising the Home Office’s poster campaign running in UK Border Agency offices in Glasgow and London advising people seeking advice to ‘Go Home’ and calling on the government to   “halt immediately this pilot scheme and to work with local authorities, community groups and NGOs to encourage voluntary returns in a more effective, liberal, sympathetic and humane manner“.

You can ask your MP to sign up to this motion by emailing them through www.writetothem.com

Emails and letters to MPs are always more effective if they are uniquely worded – MPs and their researchers take less notice of form letters. But you might want to make reference to some of the following points, in your own words:

– AARX research in areas where the previous campaign of public ‘Go Home’ vans were targeted showed  found that the majority of those surveyed disagreed with the approach used in government campaigns against immigration. This is in contrast to the way that some large-scale opinion polls have been reported, but the AARX research focused on neighbourhoods being directly affected by both migration and the Home Office campaign.

– The government has already been forced to agree not to run the Go Home van campaign again without consultation with local authorities and community groups, thanks to a legal challenge supported by Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL). They agreed that not consulting properly on such a concern could breach the Equality Act 2010 by failing to have ‘due regard’ to the campaign’s effects on communities living in the affected areas.  Reactions of local authority leaders and community groups in affected areas suggest that the result of any consultation will be a strong argument against continuing with that campaign.

– The campaign within UKBA offices has already been linked to serious negative impacts on people seeking help.

– As Jock Morris from ‘Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees’ puts it, if the posters are only giving out information, why isn’t there a twin poster saying ‘Are you fleeing persecution? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.’?

Other organisations supporting this Early Day Motion and asking you to convince your MP to sign up to it include Migrants Rights Network and Positive Action In Housing.

‘We all belong to Glasgow’: Demo against ‘go home’ posters

Over a hundred people came out on a rainy Monday afternoon yesterday to protest against the ‘Go Home’ posters that are being piloted in the UKBA registration centre in Brand Street, Glasgow. As previously reported on the Migrant Voice blog, these posters are part of a campaign that is being piloted in Hounslow, London and in Glasgow. The posters are being displayed in the UKBA registration centre and read ‘Is life hard here? Going home is simple’ echoing the language of the ‘Go home’ van (also known as the #racistvan) that has caused controversy this summer and indeed, of National Front campaigns in the 1970s. These words are super-imposed on a picture of a destitute person lying on some cardboard. The posters are also accompanied by stickers on seats that read ‘ask about going home’.

The pilot campaign has already had an adverse impact on those using the registration centre. An article in The Herald has described how victims of torture have sought specialist support to help them cope with the campaign reporting: ‘The organisation Freedom From Torture, which works regularly in Glasgow with 170 clients from countries including Syria, Iran, and Iraq, says clients report an increase in nightmares and physical manifestations of trauma.’

Speakers at the demonstration included members of campaigning, activist and religious organisations alongside Trade Unions and councillors from the SNP and the Green Party.

Iain Chisholm from Positive Action in Housing said: ‘ The Home Office’s own guidance says that they have a duty of care to the people that come to them but this uses people’s vulnerability against them… It is bullying everyone who goes into the centre, no matter what stage they are at in the asylum process.’

Norman MacLeod, SNP Councillor for Pollokshield stressed that Scotland has a history of outward migration and was thus a welcoming country: ‘If you want to come and live and work and contribute to the country of Scotland, we want you here, there’s plenty of space.’ He went on to say that this wasn’t just an economic but a moral imperative: ‘Scottish folk have been welcome throughout the world for the past 200-300 years, it ill-beholds us to stop people who want to come and make their lives here.’ Green Party councillor, Nina Baker, echoed this welcome: ‘Glasgow is a welcoming city. It will take any one to its heart that will love Glasgow back… The only people we don’t welcome is UKBA’

Trade Union representatives, including representatives from the FBU (John McFadden) and Unison (Jim Main) condemned the posters as being part of the Westminster Government’s divide and rule strategy.

Joyce Drummond from Solidarity called the UKBA registration centre ‘a stain on the conscience of Scotland’.

Margaret Woods from Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees gave an impassioned speech, referring back to the posters: ‘Is life hard here? Of course. The Government treat people like criminals …. There are wars that we can do very little about but we do know that we can help the refugees and the refugees can help us.’

Samuel Yerokun from Association of African Communities in Renfrewshire said that the poster was the Home Office pushing aside its responsibilities. He spoke of the good work that such posters undermined, concluding: We cannot accept this. The posters have to come down.’

Perhaps the last word should go to Jock Morris, also from ‘Glasgow Campaign to welcome refugees’. He pointed to the Home Office claim that the posters are only giving out information. In that case he asked, why isn’t there a twin poster saying ‘Are you fleeing persecution? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.’

We all belong to Glasgow

 

AARX Press Release: Survey shows government ‘Go Home’ message is ‘unacceptable’

An independent network of researchers have gathered opinions from diverse communities in Leeds, London and Birmingham – and found that the majority of those surveyed disagreed with the approach used in government campaigns against immigration. The research team also found that the public is uncertain what the government is trying to achieve through these campaigns, with almost a quarter believing that the aim was to increase intolerance.

In response to public concerns about the use of the ‘go home’ van in diverse areas of London and the allegations that immigration checks in London stations targeted non-white travellers for questioning, a group of independent researchers have taken to the streets of multicultural Britain to find out what ordinary citizens make of these tactics.

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya from the group explained,

“These Home Office campaigns target highly diverse neighbourhoods and impact on the lives of people there. We wanted to get a sense of how people who live in these neighbourhoods feel about being the focus for these government experiments.”

Volunteer researchers conducted a street survey with over 200 individuals and documented their responses to the ‘go home’ vans and immigration checks in stations. Many were shocked that the government was employing these tactics. One Londoner asked ‘Is it an extremist group doing this?’ and was shocked to discover that this was part of a government campaign.

The findings of the study raise serious questions about the impact of such campaigns on social cohesion. The Home office has indicated that both campaigns will be rolled out nationally ‘if effective’. However, these findings show widespread concern about the implications for the wider community.

Key findings

The survey asked people their views on the campaign to target illegal immigrants through the ‘go home’ van and through immigration checks in stations and other public places.

63% (148 out of 235) surveyed did not agree with the van campaign.

74% (175 out of 235) surveyed thought the phrase ‘go home’ was not acceptable.

79% (185 out of 235) surveyed said it was not acceptable to target immigration checks on the basis of skin colour.

71% (167 responses) thought the van campaign and 75% (176 responses) thought racial-profiling of immigration checks would have an impact on community relations.

A number of those questioned raised the concern that these campaigns would increase intolerance and racism towards all migrants and towards other minority communities, with several using phrases such as ‘divide and rule/divide and conquer strategy’ to describe the Home Office campaigns.

Respondents in every location talked about the threat these government campaigns posed to black and minority communities inBritain, including those settled for many generations.

Comments included:

‘it is basically about UKIP. They (coalition government and their agencies) are
targeting only people of colour. It also creates a climate of fear.’

‘Racism is learned, via campaigns like this, designed to make people feel paranoid. It is designed in a way that white people feel superior. They will not be checked.’

‘The government has political motivations, to “divide and conquer” so that people don’t look at the real issues. It benefits the wealthy to have illegal immigrants. The campaign is hypocritical. The government just wants to be seen to be doing something.’

‘quite clever – because people who are against immigrants are going to notice this and think all immigrants are illegal.’

‘It’s feeding the sense that ‘they’ are taking our jobs, so scaremongering. Immigrants are doing the menial jobs that no one wants to do. I am a taxpayer and the government is wasting my money on this.’

‘It is focusing on colour of skin and people who are not well informed, and encourages them to be racist’

‘Politicians and media are colluding to make the UK a cruel place. There is a
tolerance myth. The UK is becoming a less tolerant place.’

These views from the public echo the concerns of the Equality and Human Rights Commission who are in the process of investigating these two Home Office campaigns and the allegation that they constitute incitement to racial hatred.

Public concerns

The study also confirms the concerns raised by organisations that support migrants. Rita Chadha of RAMFEL (Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London) commented,

‘Whilst the government still debates how and when it will evaluate Go Home, RAMFEL is delighted that there is some credible evidence to show that the vast majority of British decent-thinking people oppose such crude attempts to deal with immigration. This survey reflects the absolute urgent need to take control of the immigration debate away from sound-bite politicians and return to a more nuanced discussion within local neighbourhoods across the country.’

Southall Black Sisters – an organisation with a long history of supporting vulnerable women, including those with immigration problems – have protested against recent immigration checks and raids. Pragna Patel explained their concerns about Home Office tactics,

‘Women that we work with are really afraid of being stopped at stations and bus stops and being asked to produce proof of their identity. They have often been subject to horrific violence by their husbands and their immigration status is often insecure and being finalised with our help. These tactics have really increased the climate of fear and compounds the trauma that they have experienced. Many are scared of going out and are curtailing their movements. Even those women that have already gained stay in this country as victims of domestic violence are scared of being stopped or detained.’

This recent study shows that these concerns are shared by people living in neighbourhoods targeted for Home Office actions. The group is compiling a more extended report from the survey findings and will be submitting the completed report to the Home Office and to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

– the survey was conducted in Leeds city centre, Birmingham city centre, Birmingham B11, and in London neighbourhoods targeted by the Home Office, including Walthamstow, Southall, Ealing, Peckham, Stratford, New Cross.