Tag Archives: immigration

LibLink: Sarah Teather: It’s clear our system of immigration detention isn’t working

Sarah Teather has been writing for the Huffington Post in the wake of the report on immigration detention released the other day. She started with a shocking story:

One such occasion took place last July. I was sat in a committee room in the House of Commons, chairing the first evidence session of an inquiry into immigration detention. We were talking, via a phone link, to a young man who was being held in one of the giant detention centres next door to Heathrow.

He told us about how he had ended up in the UK. At the age of 16, he had been trafficked from his home on the Nigeria/Cameroon border to Hungary. He told us how he was “put in a basement, beaten, raped and tortured”. He managed to escape and then found himself in London, a stranger. Then he was detained.

I asked him how long he had been in detention. His answer caused those in the room to gasp.

“Three years”.

Three years he had been in detention, locked up not because he had broken the law but for immigration purposes. A young man who had been the victim of some horrendous abuse had arrived in the UK and instead of being given support and treatment, was locked away indefinitely.

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“Uncontrolled mass immigration”, Nigel? You must be joking.

I guess I was lucky to survive my breakfast today. First of all, I almost choked on my Corn Flakes reading some of the tales on the “What’s your funniest canvassing experience?” post. Mark Smulian has a lot to answer for. And if your sides aren’t sore enough, Alex Wilcock has done a whole post recounting his tales from the doorstep. I might disagree with him on the worst by-election candidate ever, though.

Things got more serious, though. Hilarity turned to annoyance and shame when I saw Nigel Farage on BBC Breakfast going on about immigration. “Uncontrolled mass immigration” he kept saying. Now there’s a phrase redolent with demonising people, fear and stoking up resentment against people who come to this country to work. You know, those people without whom we wouldn’t have a National Health Service. Those people who make a significant net contribution to the wealth of this nation by paying their taxes. The way UKIP and Farage have both Cameron and Miliband dancing to their fraudulent tune is sickening and is not backed up by evidence. Just the other day, a study reported in the Independent showed that, contrary to the nonsense spread by UKIP, immigrants are not coming over here and taking our jobs.

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Julian Huppert writes … We must end indefinite detention for immigrants

Immigration detention
Looking back over the Coalition Government, one of our great successes is putting an end to the routine detention of children for immigration purposes. In 2009, 1,119 children were locked up in immigration centres, nearly 500 of them were under five years of age.

Not only have we ended this practice, but in the Immigration Act we made sure that if any future government wants to undo our reforms, they’ll have to do it the hard way by passing an Act of Parliament.

But the issue of immigration detention doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there.

The UK is an outlier in the EU as the only country that doesn’t have a time limit on how long someone can be detained under immigration powers. Ireland has a time limit of 21 days, France 45 days, Belgium two months and Spain 60 days. Even Russia has a time limit, albeit of two years.

photo by: Policy Exchange
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Lord Roger Roberts writes…A step towards abolishing the Azure Card

Azure cardLast November I wrote that we must abolish the Azure Card and secured a debate in the House of Lords to that effect.

For those who may be unaware, The Azure Card is a prepayment card provided destitute asylum seekers who require support because they are temporarily unable to leave the United Kingdom. It is a discriminatory and wholly inadequate system of support which the Red Cross – as well as many other refugee organisations have called to be abolished.

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Opinion: We are the world

At my United Reformed Church on Sunday the preacher was a young woman from South Africa. The two readers were from the U.S. and from Scotland. The English woman who led the prayers is married to a man of Pakistani origin. Two Australians served coffee, a German lady sat in front of me and a Swiss man across the aisle.

We are a global society, not just a global economy. We are the world.  Yes, the Lib Dems are pro-Europe and internationalist, and we should fly these colours high as these policies represent how our country actually is.

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Opinion: How the UK immigration system damaged my mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015I wanted to talk a bit about how immigrating to the UK has affected my mental health, because both mental health and immigration are subjects on which I ‎look to the Lib Dems to support me with, via good policies and campaigning.

I’ve been in the UK nine years now, but when I’m standing in that non-EU passports line (I’ve long been eligible for citizenship but I can’t afford the application fees), I can’t help but hear similar interrogations going on to the ones I remember when I first came here and was interrogated by a big scary scouser for two hours– how long are you staying? how much money have you got with you? — I can’t help but think “that’s how it started…”

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee – Sending overseas students home is “economic nonsense”

Writing on PoliticsHome, Baroness Sally Hamwee, describes the recently mooted Conservative plans to send overseas students home as “economic nonsense”, which risk the good reputation of the UK:

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Time to lambast the economic stupidity of Tory posturing on immigration

 

The main headline in today’s Sunday Times (£) is something of a milestone. (Helpfully, the Murdoch empire make most of the story available on Sky News without a paywall).

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Pandering to Ukip risks handing over British-grown ideas to overseas competitors

Tim Farron launches the Lib Dem YES! campaignLib Dem party president Tim Farron argues that “a simplistic debate over immigration will force potential wealth creators overseas” over at the Huffington Post website today. Here’s an excerpt:

Pollsters will say that migration is one of the main concerns of this election. An ill-fated and simplistic response by politicians to this issue will not address their concerns. A cap will do nothing to address the problems that Britain faces. Low pay will not be solved by a migrant cap. The housing crisis will not

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Poll: Young people appear more tolerant, open and happy with modern Britain

A recent survey by YouGov, for Business for New Europe, indicates that teenagers have markedly more positive views towards Europe and the free movement of labour than adults. This should encourage those who appreciate the economic advantages of an outward-facing UK. It could also fuel calls for 16 and 17 year-olds to be included in any forthcoming referendum on the EU.

The poll, based on the views of young people aged between 14 and 17 years old, showed:

  • If there was a referendum, approximately twice as many of those aged 14 to 17 would vote to stay in the EU (45%) as leave (23%).
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Lib Dems Telegraph splash: EU bashing “weak, opportunistic and fundamentally un-British” say Ashdown, Ludford, Brinton, Farron and 90 Lib Dems

Even Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have taken the isolationist path that David Cameron’s Conservative party is romping its way down, according to 90 Liberal Democrats in a letter to the Telegraph today. The letter states:

David Cameron’s recent speech on European immigration is the latest in a series of desperate moves from a Conservative Party in full-scale panic.

We’ve had: “Go home or face arrest” vans. We’ve had: if you are from the EU and want to move to Britain, go and register at a police station. We’ve had: if you’re out of work, even for a few months, go back to where you came from.

In her Bruges speech in 1988, Margaret Thatcher said: “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

What happened to that Conservative destiny? The dual menace of the Tory headbangers and the rise of Ukip.

There is nothing patriotic about bashing immigration from Europe. It is opportunistic, weak and fundamentally un-British. Migrants from the EU claim less in benefits than people born in this country. They are a massive net positive to the British economy. The Tories are scared to admit this. They have lost all sense of political courage – and that is why people have lost confidence in them.

We, the undersigned Liberal Democrats, konw that the real patriotic case is for Britain to remain in Europe; our jobs and our economic future depend on it.

photo by: rockcohen
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Lord (Dick) Taverne writes… Cameron heads for Brexit

David Cameron - head in handsIf Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister again after May, he is likely to be the Prime Minister who will lead the UK out of the European Union.

From time to time Mr Cameron has expressed enthusiasm for Britain being at the heart of the EU. In his Bloomberg speech in January last year, he declared:

“I believe something very deeply, that Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a Union is best with Britain in it….There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union. That matters for British jobs and British security.”

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The Independent View: The political culture in Britain seems to have been infected by a form of madness

With each electoral gain made by Ukip, politicians and the media respond with ever more apocalyptic descriptions of the insidious effect of mass immigration on this small overcrowded island.

A vivid picture is painted daily of a nation overrun by swarms of migrants who are taking our jobs, lowering our wages, scrounging our benefits, crowding our schools, clogging up our hospital wards, destroying our culture and boiling our children before eating them for breakfast.

Well, maybe not the last bit, but some of the scaremongering rhetoric comes close to such levels of hysteria. It would be laughably surreal were it not so inflammatory and potentially damaging, particularly when it is stirred up by people in positions of power and influence who really should know better.

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The Independent View: What do the public want on migration?

In what seemed an inevitability, Theresa May admitted the annual net migration cap was “unlikely” to be met. The target of 100,000 a year net migration to the UK has long been posited to be unrealistic, and Cameron’s “no if no buts” pledge to meet it impossible. Yet in spite of this every year the government has pushed every effort to bring down migration levels.

We’ve seen caps on the amount of skilled non-EEA workers, much to businesses’ chagrin. Barriers put in place on UK citizens naturalising partners, heartbreakingly splitting up families. Curbs on international students resulting in the first drop in international student numbers in 30 years. None of these measures have worked to bring down net migration levels, but each have threatened family life, the financial health of our universities and our businesses’ access to the top talent.

Moreover there’s little evidence that the public actually supports these measures.  In public polling the public is unquestionably in favour of international students, with a plurality believing they bring in more than they take. Equally the public is in favour of professionals coming to the UK to work, with a majority seeing such workers as good for Britain. On spouses a solid majority support UK citizens naturalising their immediate family.

Posted in The Independent View | 60 Comments

Opinion: Media misunderstanding on Lib Dem immigration policy

When will the BBC begin to do its job properly, and understand what it is talking about? I woke up yesterday to a news bulletin telling me that Nick Clegg was considering raising the time limit for someone from an EU country to claim benefits. It was suggested that it would be 6 months. It then ended by saying that the Liberal Democrats were now joining other parties in concern about EU migration.

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – ensure there is no benefit abuse while retaining free labour movement

Nick clegg rally glasgow 2014
Writing in the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg argues in favour of immigration for work purposes from the EU, but lists a range of restrictions on benefits for those coming to the UK:

Overwhelmingly, European migrants come here to work and pay taxes.

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LibLink: Ibrahim Taguri: Immigration – do you want the truth or something beautiful?

Brace yourselves. Brent Central Liberal Democrat candidate has written a hard-hitting and heartfelt article for the New Statesman on immigration. He expresses his anger at what passes for debate on the issue:

This country has been built on the blood, sweat and backs of immigrants. This is the story of immigration in this country. It’s about time the political establishment recognised this. Not make us feel like foreigners in our own country.

The disenfranchised working classes are being whipped up over the issue and after being long abandoned by Labour are turning to Ukip.

Our country is being betrayed by politicians who are too weak and too self-serving to make the positive case for immigration. Instead it’s a testosterone fuelled race as to who can be hard, harder and hardest on immigrants.

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How Lib Dems should talk about immigration

british future immigrationThis week saw the publication of an important report from the think-tank British Future called ‘How to talk about immigration’.

Its central thrust is that the majority of the British public’s views about immigration are more moderate, pragmatic and nuanced than the polarising debate often allows:

How to talk about immigration challenges both the pro and anti-migration voices to respond to the public’s desire for a sensible conversation about immigration.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Don’t blame immigrants – sort our problems

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWriting in the New Statesman, Tim Farron says we should direct our focus on solving this country’s housing shortage and wage inequalities problems, rather than blaming immigrants for our problems:

Looking at poll after poll shows that many communities are worried about the impact of immigration. I do understand their concerns. But it would be hugely disrespectful to the British public if we looked at those polls, and the problems they highlighted, and weren’t honest about the underlying drivers.

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Immigration: are you more clued-up than the British public?

immigrationHere’s your starter for three:

People sometimes talk about ‘net immigration’, meaning the difference between the number of people coming to Britain each year to live, and the number leaving Britain to live in another country. What do you think is the current level of net immigration into Britain? If you are not sure, please give your best guess.

More than two million a year
Between one and two million a year
Between 500,000 and one million a year
Between 400,000 and 500,000 a year
Between 300,000 and 400,000 a year
Between 200,000 and 300,000 a year
Between 100,000 and 200,000 a year
Between 50,000 and 100,000 a year
Less than 50,000 a year

Posted in Polls | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

Opinion: The other side of the immigration debate coin

There are some things in life that go hand in hand

In the UK it is a General Election and talk of Immigration Controls

In every general election since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech Labour and the Conservatives have sought to out-do each other on the toughness of their respective policies on immigration Usually the war of words starts at about the same time as the political parties start their election campaign. This time round the battle has already started even though the General Election is some six months away And the reason? The Tories are running scared of UKIP as Nigel Farage sets himself up as the only  gatekeeper who can be trusted to keep immigrants at bay and land election defeat on Conservatives the back of it.

Posted in Op-eds | 71 Comments

Opinion: Confused Britain

Map of the European UnionEU citizens should have the right to live and work in the UK:
36% Yes, 46% No.

British citizens should have the right to live and work in the EU:
52% Yes, 26% No.

These results from ComRes were presented by the Guardian Data Editor Alberto Nardelli, alongside the title “Confused Britain“. However, in many ways it summarises an increasingly predominate view on the European Union. It seems vast swathes of the public are happy to have their cake and eat it when it comes to the EU.

It is a choice that has been presented to people by many Eurosceptics. Conservatives are increasingly discussing the notion of quota systems on EU migration, even though Angela Merkel has stated that such an impingement on free movement would be non-negotiable. Ukip have often stated that trade between the UK and the EU would be made easier, not harder, through removal from the free market area. Presented with such options, it has become popular thinking to believe that the UK can have a pick ‘n’ mix agreement with the European Union.

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Opinion: The Immigration Premium: A positive approach to immigration

This concept of an Immigration Premium was developed after watching Nick Clegg struggle to counter Nigel Farage on the subject of immigration in the European election debates. The UKIP leader is correctly able to state that we have an open door policy to European Immigration and hundreds of thousands of people arrive year after year, putting immense strains on housing, education, healthcare and other infrastructure elements.

The Immigration Premium turns this problem on its head. New immigrants (identifiable by NI number) have high levels of employment and through sheer weight of numbers make a major contribution to the exchequer both through direct taxes and indirect spending. In fact, immigration is a major factor in the economy’s return to growth. The Immigration Premium identifies additional tax revenues generated by immigration and directs additional funds to the geographic areas and services most directly affected by sudden influxes of large numbers of new people.

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Opinion: On immigration, let’s keep out of this race to the bottom

If there’s one area of political debate where perception triumphs over reality, it’s immigration. While the public rate it as the number one issue facing Britain, it tumbles to 12th place when they’re asked what concerns them most at a personal level, behind the more pressing issues of pensions, health and household finances.

This is the ‘disconnect’ between what people hear about in our debate on immigration – fanned by political opportunists and their media allies – and the reality they experience in their daily lives. It’s the doorstep charge of “well there are just too many of them,

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Nick Clegg’s speech on immigration: baby steps in a liberal direction

Nick Clegg Q&A 12When I read Nick Clegg’s immigration speech yesterday I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s sensible and mostly liberal.

Which means it’s a stark contrast to his March 2013 attempt: that was probably the most dire speech I’ve ever heard from a Lib Dem leader. Back then, Nick took credit for net migration having fallen by a third, even though net migration is, as Vince Cable has repeatedly pointed out, an absurd measure of success. He also came up with the unworkable proposal for security bonds (ie, upfront cash payments) for immigrants from ‘high-risk’ countries entering the UK.

Fast forward 18 months and both have been ditched.

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The Independent View: “I’m a believer in the benefits of well-managed immigration” says Clegg

Nick CleggOn Tuesday, in a speech in Manor House in north London, Nick Clegg gave a major speech on immigration. Like the immigration speech he gave last year, hosted by CentreForum, his recent speech will be hotly debated and greatly misrepresented.

The speech was clearly an attempt to provide reassurance to the British public that the Lib Dems wanted a fair immigration system that enabled “the brightest and the best” to come to work and study in the UK but was robust in stamping out cheating and abuse. Nick believes this is important because:

… being a nation at ease with diversity and difference does not happen by accident. Successful immigration systems have to be managed. People need to see that they are good for society as a whole. Otherwise all you do is create fear and resentment – you give populists an open goal.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Lord Roger Roberts writes… Exit checks and the Eurotunnel: A logistical nightmare

EUROTUNNEL calaisThe Coalition Agreement included a commitment to reintroduce exit checks by the end of this Parliament.

But any means of noting or recording who enters and who leaves the UK was removed in 1998 by Labour, who considered the checks, ‘an inefficient use of resources … contributing little to the integrity of the immigration control’. Clearly, today’s debate on immigration has moved on considerably.

Since the early ‘Noughties’, successive attempts have been made to restore some form of border records, principally through the introduction of technology-based checks for anyone departing the UK as part of a new ‘e-Borders’ programme. It …

photo by:
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Liberal Democrats criticise Home Office over deportation flight report which said people were treated like commodities.

UK Border Agency enforcement teamA report in Sunday’s Observer highlighted concerns raised by the Inspector of Prisons over the treatment of people on a deportation flight to Afghanistan.

The Inspector’s full report can be read here and it makes sobering reading for anyone who cares about treating vulnerable people with respect:

Despite impressive care and concern shown by individual escort staff, detainees were not treated with enough decency in the removal process. Generally efficient procedures did not amount to respect for detainees who, it seemed to us, were seen as commodities

photo by: ukhomeoffice
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Opinion: Queen’s Speech – the success and failures of coalition in a nutshell

Nutshell 2One part of the Queen’s Speech – or rather one absence from it – neatly encapsulates the Liberal Democrat experience in coalition government, both good and bad. It is the absence from it of an immigration (dislike thereof) bill.

A solo Tory government would have introduced one and – thanks to Labour’s attitudes towards immigration – even a minority Tory government might well have got an anti-immigration bill through Parliament. It’s the Liberal Democrat presence in government which has stopped it.

photo by: steffenz
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Brian Paddick writes…We must challenge UKIP on the facts

Turning point in politics?So where are we?  The UK and the rest of Europe have lurched to the right.  People and countries are becoming more insular and less internationalist, less tolerant of difference and are looking for “others” to blame.  Almost inevitably during times of austerity, people do not like those inflicting the pain, however necessary.  Of course, some will argue that the cuts in public spending are not necessary, are not fair, are not reasonable, do not need to be so severe or all of the above.  The fact is, for years the UK has been spending more than it earns in taxation

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