Tag Archives: immigration

Roger Roberts: Could we not be the nation that leads morally in this ruptured world

Yesterday, Roger Roberts was one of many Liberal Democrat peers to take part in the Queen’s Speech debate. He’s sent us his speech on the treatment of refugees, an issue very close to his heart:

 In the wide-ranging speeches, we had one great disappointment, and I am sure the Minister involved will know exactly what I am referring to; there has been no commitment at all to receiving the 20,000 Syrian refugees as promised by David Cameron. It is not there in the Queen’s Speech. Nor is there a commitment to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees. When you think that in Europe there are still about 88,000 of these children by themselves, we have met no commitment whatever in the Speech that we are discussing this afternoon. It has been a great disappointment in that direction.

We are probably going to get another immigration Bill; we get one every Session. I am not sure what we are going to do in a two-year Session: will we get two or just one and a half? We are going to get new legislation, and every time we do it makes it more difficult for those who are vulnerable and those who wish to escape from total austerity to come here. We can promote many amendments when that new Bill comes. We can ask why asylum seekers are still refused permission to work for the first 12 months of their time in the United Kingdom. Is there any reason whatever? I cannot see any. Why, also, do we have legislation that permits 18 year-olds to be deported? Those who are deported are largely those who have had no access to legal advice. The Government could, quite easily I think, make a commitment that everyone who approaches 18 years of age shall at least have the benefit of top-rate legal advice.

There is one other thing I would like to see in the new immigration Bill. Do you know how much people get every week when they are applying? It is £36.95, and this has not increased at all in the past five or six years. Anything that we can do to uprate that to the present cost of living would be very welcome.

I have come across a poem by Warsan Shire of Somalia that describes the circumstances, and I shall quote part of it:

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Introducing Lib Dem Immigrants

When I moved to the UK, I couldn’t see myself joining any party that wasn’t pro-immigrant – seeing as now, suddenly, I was one. Sadly there’s not a lot of competition there, but it helped make it clear that the Liberal Democrats were right for me. I’ve always been glad to share the party with people who share my conviction that immigration is a good in itself (when the best you’ll get from most other parties is that we have to hold our noses and accept it for the economic benefits) and, at least as importantly, that immigrants are fellow humans who deserve to be treated well.

Now I’m part of a new group seeking official recognition by the party, called Lib Dem Immigrants. The name has the potential to be ambiguous – people have already asked “can people who aren’t immigrants join?” (the answer is resoundingly yes) – but I think it’s worth it to center the focus of our group on immigrants as people rather than immigration as an abstract subject for debate.

The first piece I wrote for Lib Dem Voice was about how the UK immigration system had harmed my mental health, and in my experience that kind of anecdote – the immigrant, not immigration – is more effective than figures and economic arguments, true as those things may be, in convincing people that a liberal approach to immigration is best for us all.

If we as Lib Dems exist to promote and protect freedom from povery, ignorance and conformity, immigrants are suffering on all three counts. 

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Joan Walmsley writes…Taxing patience and taxing patients

In order to “incentivise employers to think differently about their recruitment and skills decisions and the balance between investing in UK skills and overseas recruitment” (Lord Nash in the Lords on Tuesday) the government has decided to introduce an Immigration Skills Charge, a tax of £1000 per employee, per year, paid in advance by an employer wishing to recruit a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area.

It does not apply to everyone, of course. Exceptions have been made for a variety of post-graduate scientists (including social and humanities scientists), research and development managers, and higher education teaching professionals.

Two groups that have not been exempted are professionals in health and social care. We know that both of these sectors are heavily dependent upon recruiting professionals from all over the world. We know only too well, from report after report, of the dire financial straits of the NHS: three quarters of NHS trusts are in deficit; nearly every A&E has limped from crisis to crisis this winter; we are short of nurses and retention is awful; hospital doctors’ rosters are unfilled; and GP practices can’t replace retiring doctors. The staff have become the shock-absorber for the NHS.

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What happened to the lamp beside the golden door?

The Telegraph reports:

Mr Trump signed an executive order closing US borders to all refugees for a period of at least four months and temporarily banning all travellers from half a dozen countries, regardless of whether they have already been issued visas…

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Liberal Democrats need to play smart on immigration and border controls

If we are to learn from the lessons of Trump becoming President and the EU referendum, we progressive politicians must play smarter in the area of immigration. This does not mean aping Mr Trump or Nigel Farage but working out where the real blame lies for failures in our border controls and who has accountability for fixing them.

The current government has decided landlords and schools are suddenly  quasi immigration officers. Even the Daily Mail noted that the government pilot project to require landlords to check tenants rights to live in the UK had been an abject failure. Many parents at my own children’s school complained about the need to audit the nationalities of their children and where their parents were from. Parents were not even told this was optional and that they could refuse to complete the census. The head teacher complained of the administrative burden of this new dictat. Quite rightly so, given no extra resources were given to schools to carry out this work.

This brings me back to where I think we as Liberal politicians should be looking to do more around border controls. The introduction of proper exit checks last year was long overdue and the Lib Dems contributed to this in the Coalition. Yet individual landlords and schools are being asked to mop up the mess created by previous governments. Technology initiatives from the Labour government on immigration control during the 2000s cost up to £1 billion and were not fit for purpose.

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Theresa May went to India, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt…

I am one of those people who have often wondered why British governments pay relatively little attention to India. After all, it’s a big country, with an emerging middle class who want to travel, buy luxury goods and send their children to good universities overseas. Why wouldn’t we want to build stronger links with a Commonwealth country that is likely to be one of the world’s largest economies before too long? And yet, the attention of our politicians and diplomats often seems biased towards China.

Frankly though, after Theresa May’s trip to New Delhi and Bengaluru, I almost wish that she …

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Farron: Government doesn’t understand needs of universities or public perceptions of immigration

Universities UK has published the results of a poll carried out by ICM which shows that only a quarter of people think of foreign students as immigrants and that the vast majority of people think that foreign students make a valuable contribution and should be allowed to stay on to work here after graduation.

Two-thirds agreed that international students have a positive impact on the local economies of the towns and cities that they study in, and three in five (59%) agreed that their economic contribution helps create jobs.

The poll also indicated that seven in ten adults believe it is better if international students use their skills here and work in the UK for a period of time in order to contribute to the economy rather than returning immediately to their home country after completing their stud

 Almost half (47%) of those polled believed there should be no limit on how long international students should be able to stay and work in the UK after they have completed their study, providing they are employed and contributing to the economy.

Tim Farron had this to say about the poll:

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