Tag Archives: immigration

Lib Dems react to closure of Cedars family immigration facility

One of the great things that Liberal Democrats ensured was that children would no longer be detained for immigration purposes. Instead, a pre-departure facility for families, Cedars, was set up with advice and support from Barnardos.

When we left Government, I feared it would be a matter of time before this excellent facility was closed.

And so, amid the flurry of announcements put out by the Government on the last day before the Summer recess, the news came yesterday. Cedars was being closed and families with children will once again be held in a detention centre Tinsley House.

Unsurprisngly, Liberal Democrats have reacted with horror.

Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Cedars was a civilised way of dealing with some of the most vulnerable young people in our care.

Ending the detention of children in lock-down institutions was something that the Liberal Democrats forced Theresa May as Home Secretary to do against her will. Now there are no restraints on her, she will indulge the more callous instincts of her party.

Having Tories in government is a bit like sharing your home with a cat. You may think that you have a domestic pet but the feral animal is never far beneath the surface.

He also sought assurances that families in Scotland would not be held in the Dungavel facility:

One of the first things that Lib Dems in government forced the then Home Secretary Theresa May to do was end the detention of children for immigration purposes. Days after coming to power she has thrown away years of progress.

What this decision means in practice is a return to situation where young children will find themselves in detention centres surrounded by razor wire and guards. This is a huge step backwards.

Previously, we had seen some children locked up at Dungavel for more than a year and there were damning reports on the level of educational support provided to children at the site. The last thing we need is a return to a situation where young people in the immigration system are treated like cattle, not children.

The Prime Minister needs to scrap her plans to close Cedars and we need urgent assurances that this inhumane decision will not open the door to a return to child detention at Dungavel.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

It’s time to be positive about immigration

The only publicly acceptable approach to immigration seems to be, more or less, stating “immigration is a problem” and then making vague promises to control it in some way. This was particularly obnoxious in the run up to, and aftermath of, the referendum but it has been the case for some time. If we really want to stand out, and promote a truly liberal approach, we need to do the opposite. We need to stand up and say “immigration is a solution”. As liberals we understand the importance of everyone being able to pursue their own good in their own way. This entails a positive approach to immigration. Right now we should be pushing to make sure we retain free movement within the EEA. In the future we should be working to liberalise migration arrangements with the rest of the world as well.

This doesn’t mean that in practice we have to advocate for completely open borders, no matter how ideologically attractive such a system might be. There are genuine issues with rapid population growth, such as short term strain on public services and downward pressure on wages, and we should address these, but not by following the popular route of promoting the illiberal idea that immigration is a problem in itself. Instead we must emphasise the benefits of immigration, both in economic terms and in terms of individual freedom, and confront the myths that support the xenophobia behind a portion of the Brexit vote.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

Post-Brexit questions on immigration and emigration

 

Migrations, big and small, have causes, so let’s start by looking at them.

War or military conflict, with and without “boots on the ground” is an all too frequent cause. The huddled masses trying to escape from the war torn and terrorised Middle East provide a pressing example.

“Real Estate” or land-grab forced migration is another category, of which the evictions of Native Americans by US governments provide examples. Not all examples are historic.

Politically purposed, forced migration was used in the Scottish Highland Clearances of the 1740s. The UK government forced Scots to emigrate to weaken and punish actual and potential Jacobite rebels. It is possible that the refugee precipitating conditions created in Iraq, Libya and Syria etc. may be similar. To wreck one country may be regarded as a misfortune: to wreck at least three looks like policy.

Religious and ethnic intolerance can be a people mover and divider, as the partition of India into India and Pakistan indicates. Managed bigotry is a powerful political tool.

The consequences of Global Warming are causing increasing numbers to move.

With sufficient perception, will and power all of these human-made migration-causing activities could, at least, be reduced. Prevention is better than cure.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

As hate crime rises, Farron and Pidgeon visit vandalised Polish Centre

Probably the most awful of many bad aspects of the referendum is that that very small section of the population who are racists and bigots feel emboldened. They think they have 17 million mates. Social media is awash with reports of attacks and the Police say that reports of hate crime are up 57%. While only a tiny minority of Leave voters are racists, they all need to take some responsibility, alongside the Leave campaign, for allowing this appalling behaviour to flourish.

It’s not just in the last few weeks, though. This prejudice has been stoked endlessly by the media and both Tory and Labour governments for long enough. If they had done what Holly said, years ago, we might not be in this mess now.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 26 Comments

The Liberal approach to immigration

The Liberal approach to dealing with the unpopularity of immigration and immigrants is to challenge that concern. It’s to robustly make a positive case for immigration as a policy and — crucially — immigrants as human beings.

The Liberal approach is to shift attention unfairly directed at them to where it belongs: Government unwillingness to fund housing, the NHS and other public services.

The Liberal approach includes strongly differentiating between migrants and refugees, which lately have all too often conflated by media and politicians, so that everyone understands the different reasons that people want to be welcomed into the UK, be they economic migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, students, or any of a host of other categories that people in different circumstances will find themselves in.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 63 Comments

Controlled migration with free movement – squaring the circle

No matter how we try and fool ourselves, migration issues played a substantial part in the Leave vote, and many Remain voters, myself included, voted to remain despite reservations about immigration levels. Doubtless racism played a part, perhaps 2 million of those Leave votes representing the percentage that the BNP received in 2009. The racists didn’t stop being racist, they simply moved to a new home. But over 90% of the 33 million voters were not racists.

When you dig down further as to why people are concerned about migration there is a common theme. As a country we have hugely expensive housing whether buying or renting. We have a creaking and overcrowded public transport infrastructure that is painful to negotiate and roads with commuter jams at 6:00am. We have a healthcare system that cannot cope with the demand yet struggles to pay off PFI stupidity promoted by Brown. We have schools that cannot deliver the quality our kids deserve and in some areas are hamstrung by the number of children with a poor grasp of basic English. Our infrastructure was not built for the numbers of people now trying to use it, and yet still more come in never-ending numbers. Patience has snapped and we must deal with it.

Freedom of movement is a precious right, for me probably the most important, although when it was first established it was reasonably balanced. The freedom to import labour at will, whether for agriculture or high tech projects, is critical to our economic success. And the EU will not allow us the benefits of unfettered access to the free market without freedom of movement whatever fantasyland Boris is currently living in. So we are in a near impossible position. What we need in terms of free trade relies on conceding free movement that we cannot cope with.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 37 Comments

Pledge to rejoin EU needs to be matched by EU Impact Fund

Tim Farron has rightly pledged we should campaign to take Britain back into the EU in the next general election. Should the election take place earlier than expected, we may still be an EU member, and should propose to withdraw from the Article 50 process.

In either case, it would not be politically credible to advocate reinstating or maintaining EU membership without proposing major domestic initiatives on immigration. The overall Remain campaign failed to a considerable degree because it did not factor in concerns, whether real or imagined, about immigration. The voices of the, largely, English hinterland must be heeded. Any Lib Dem call to rejoin or remain in the EU should therefore be accompanied by proposals to alleviate the perceived and in many cases, real, impact of immigration.

Pressures on housing, education, health and other social services can only be attributed in part to immigration. Ageing, internal migration, austerity and underinvestment together are often the more salient causes. Free movement from the EU accounts for just under half of all net migration and is the price of access to the Single EU market. Ending free movement within the EU (including from Ireland and returning UK nationals) will therefore not substantially reduce immigration, a point of mine which Dan Hannan MEP agreed during a referendum debate. If the diagnosis of our problems is wrong, then the prescription of leaving the EU will not cure them. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 10 Comments
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