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Prime Minister, It’s Time To Discontinue The De Facto Jim Crow Immigration Reforms
Please find attached my perspective on your government’s approach to immigration. While I appreciate that Britain’s immigration system is broken, I think you need to reconsider your immigration strategy as it is currently courting controversy, polarising society and dehumanising people. I hope you would take on board some of the issues raised and come up with a well thought, reasonable and humane immigration policy. If you want to discuss any of the issues raised in this letter feel free to contact me using the email address detailed below. Yours faithfully,
Ahmed Sule, CFA firstname.lastname@example.org cc
Rt. Hon Nick Clegg Rt. Hon Nick Clegg Rt. Hon Ed Miliband Rt. Hon Theresa May Rt. Hon Mark Harper Members of Parliament
Prime Minister, It’s Time To Discontinue The De Facto Jim Crow Immigration Reforms
by Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA email@example.com http://www.scribd.com/Alatenumo/documents August 2013
Dear Prime Minister, It’s Time To Discontinue The De Facto Jim Crow Immigration Reforms Not since when Winston Churchill led the country during the Second World War has a leader occupied No. 10 Downing Street under such tough times. The fact that you are still standing three years after stepping into office is a testament to your mental toughness, wisdom and tact. One of the burning issues on your in tray when you assumed office was immigration. At the time you assumed office, you inherited a broken immigration system created by the previous government and set about clearing the mess. I presume that you felt that it was not sustainable for Britain to have lax border control and this is not an unreasonable approach to take. After all, if a country does not control and monitor immigration, the country could face the risk of becoming overpopulated, thereby putting pressure on the finite resources available for the citizens of the country. So as you rightly pointed out in a speech, “Immigration has to be properly controlled. Without proper controls, community confidence is sapped, resources are stretched and the benefits that immigration can bring are lost or forgotten.” In order to control immigration, your government set a target of reducing net immigration from 252,000 a year in 2010 to below 100,000 a year by 2015. After this target was set, the government has put in place a number of structures and policies towards achieving its immigration target. Unfortunately, in trying to achieve this target, the government has adopted the principle of “the end justifies the means”, without giving serious consideration to the linkage between the ends and the means. Your government’s approach to immigration can be summarised as follows: “As long as we achieve our ‘end’ to significantly reduce net immigration into the country, it doesn’t matter what type of ‘means’ we use. We hope to achieve our ‘end’ BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. The problem with this approach is that as long as the means to achieve the ends is bad, the end no matter how good intended will be bad. As Martin Luther King eloquently put it many years ago, “Ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can’t reach good ends through evil means.” Sir, while your advisers, ministers and the media may tell you that the current immigration reform is fair, just and humane, I have come to tell you like the little boy in Hans Andersen’s fairy tale - The Emperor’s New Clothes, that your government’s immigration reform is unfair, unjust and inhumane. In short, the government’s immigration reform is nothing more than a De Facto Jim Crow Immigration Reform. Before I explain why I have likened your immigration policies to Jim Crow, let me recap on some of the ‘immoral means’ the government has implemented or is proposing to implement to achieve its ‘moral end’ of reducing net immigration. Ever since the government set its target to reduce net immigration, it has come up with a number of ill-advised, ill-intentioned and ill-conceived rhetoric, policies and actions. A number of people in your government have been making inflammatory statements, which only succeed in polarising rather than uniting the country. In many other speeches a number of government officials have tried to link immigrants with benefit fraud, crime and laziness. Your government is also intent on turning private landlords into agents of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) by making sure that “private landlords check their tenants’ immigration status with consequences for those rogue landlords who fail to do so.” Furthermore, raids are currently being carried out in a number of ethnic diverse areas like Daltson, Stratford and Walthamstow where people of colour are detained based on what the government describes as “specific intelligence.” People of colour or people with non-British accents are being arrested on the buses, trains and on the streets until they can prove their legitimacy to live in Britain. The Home Office has been putting pictures of the arrested immigrants on Twitter. In short the country is gradually metamorphosing from Great Britain to Gestapo Britain.
A couple of days ago, the government implemented an anti-immigration scheme by having a number of vans with the inscription “GO HOME OR FACE ARREST” boldly displayed, plying the six ethnic diverse boroughs of Barnet, Hounslow, Barking and Dagenham, Ealing, Brent and Redbridge. This scheme was widely condemned even by people in the government like Vince Cable who described the government’s approach as “stupid and offensive.” Leaflets and posters telling immigrants to go home have been distributed in a number of boroughs that have a large concentration of non-white people. The government has stated that effective from November 2013, visitors from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana will have to pay a £3,000 refundable bond before they can get a visa to visit Britain. According to the government, these countries, which are populated with black and brown people, were selected because they have a high proportion of visa over-stayers in Britain. In August 2012, the UKBA revoked London Metropolitan University’s Highly Trusted Status for sponsoring international students. As a consequence, the university, which has a high concentration of non-whites, lost the right to recruit international students from outside of the EU. Almost 2,700 students were affected as they had 60 days after the revocation to gain admission into another school otherwise they faced deportation. According to the UKBA, one of the reasons why the status was revoked was because “a significant proportion did not have a good standard of English.” There was a lot of public uproar over the decision and in April 2013, the university was given back its licence for a probationary period. One may say, “Why compare the government’s immigration reform with Jim Crowism when all the government is doing is to control net immigration?” Others may argue, “There is no basis of comparison to Jim Crow as the government’s policy is fair and not racist.” If one looks at each of the government’s approach to immigration in isolation, one may arrive at that conclusion, however when one looks at the government’s actions holistically, one begins to see a pattern, which bears the hallmark of Jim Crowism. Like Jim Crow, which segregated blacks from whites, the government’s immigration reform also segregates classes of immigrants. Through the government’s reform, it has created two classes of immigrants namely black immigrants and white immigrants; rich immigrants and poor immigrants; upper class immigrants and lower class immigrants; white Western immigrants and white non-Western immigrants. Unlike the white rich and Western immigrants who are treated like human beings, the black, brown and white non-Western immigrants are dehumanised, demonised and ostracised by the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration reforms Britain plays host to immigrants from the four corners of the world and particularly from her ex-colonies. However, one wonders why the immigration reforms are negatively impacting black, brown and Eastern European immigrants. For instance the introduction of the £3,000 refundable cash bond impacts visitors from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana, which are countries populated with black and brown people. According to the Visit Britain website, the number of visitors to Britain in 2012 from three of these “BLACKlisted” countries were as follows Country India Nigeria Pakistan Number of visitors to Britain in 2012 339,000 154,000 73,000
While visitors from some white majority populated countries were as follows Country France Germany USA Australia Canada Number of visitors to Britain in 2012 3,787,000 2,967,000 2,840,000 993,000 704,000
The above statistics are quite revealing. Visitors from countries that have fewer visitors to Britain are made to post cash bonds while the visitors from countries that have higher number of visitors are free to come to Britain without posting cash bonds - a case of different strokes for different folks. Just like the Jim Crow mantra was “Separate but equal”; the mantra of the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration reform seems to be “ALL IMMIGRANTS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME IMMIGRANTS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” Selah. The stop and search raids currently taking place in areas that have large concentrations of non-whites or white non-Westerners bears the hallmark of an amalgamation of Jim Crowism and the Pass Laws implemented in South Africa. During the Apartheid regime, the Pass Law Act was passed to restrict the movements of non-white people in certain parts of South Africa. Non-whites were required to carry passbooks with them in certain areas and could be arrested if they failed to produce the passbook. While there are no laws requiring non-whites to carry passbooks in Britain, what we now have in place is a de facto pass law. The recent raids in black populated parts of Britain has created an atmosphere of fear in the black community and the people feel that they have to carry their passports with them wherever they go so as to avoid being arrested for failing to prove their legitimacy to stay in the country. Already, blacks and Asians are disproportionately stopped and searched by the police relative to their white counterparts and this de facto pass law will only increase the frequency of the searching of blacks and Asians. It would be interesting to find out why raids are carried out in the areas of large concentrations of non-white such as Daltson, Peckham and Stratford while areas with little concentrations of black people go unraided. Like Jim Crow laws, which succeeded in driving blacks out of the southern states of the USA, the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration reform seems to be intended to drive the black, brown and white non-Western immigrants out of Britain back to their home countries as evidenced by the message displayed on the so-called racist van i.e. “GO HOME OR FACE ARREST.” Just as Jim Crow laws prevented blacks from going to certain places such as restaurants, hotels, toilets, playgrounds and schools, the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration policies are preventing some black immigrants from entering buses and train stations for fear of being detained. Even the schools are impacted by the de facto Jim Crow immigration reform as evidenced by the revocation of the Highly Trusted Status of London Metropolitan University, a school populated by majority non-whites and non-westerners, partly because some of its students did not “have a good standard of English”. While Jim Crow laws discriminated against an unpopular minority in the USA, the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration reforms discriminates against an unpopular minority in Britain i.e. the black, brown and white non-Western immigrants. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see that there is a hierarchy of immigrants in this country. At the top of the pyramid are the Western immigrants from countries like Germany, France, Australia, USA and Canada while at the bottom of the pyramid, are the immigrants from countries ranging from Nigeria, India, Pakistan to Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. During the Jim Crow era, Americans were accustomed to seeing signposts with inscriptions such as “Colored Waiting Room”, “Public Swimming Pool – White Only”, and “Imperial Laundry Co - We Wash For White People Only”. In 21st century Britain, the black, brown and white non-Western immigrants now see more subtle signs such as “GO HOME OR FACE ARREST”, “Text HOME to 78070”, “106 ARRESTS LAST WEEK IN YOUR AREA.” I am sure that a number of older Afro-Caribbean’s will look at these signboards with nostalgia remembering the signs that first greeted them when they landed from the MV Empire Windrush ship - “NO IRISH, NO BLACKS, NO DOGS.” Selah. While to suggest that these recent immigration reforms are in response to UK Independent Party (UKIP) eating into your parties electoral base is speculative and unverifiable, however what is known is that the government is fixing this broken immigration system without
consideration given to the humanity of the immigrants who are targeted. Jesus once said, “For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul.” I can imagine the Master sitting on his majestic throne telling the British government, “For what shall it profit a government to gain some votes and lose its soul over a pottage of de facto Jim Crowism”. Prime Minister, I am concerned that three years into your reign, your government has lost its soul. In the quest for winning the hearts and mind of voters, it has embarked on a campaign of oppression, repression and suppression against the marginalised segments of society. Even though the disabled, the immigrants, the homeless, the unemployed, the aged and the youth did not cause the recent financial crisis, they have been negatively targeted by many of the government’s policies while the major culprits of the crisis are walking free on the streets of Britain smiling all the way to the bank. As each month goes by, the government’s immigration policies become harsher on the vulnerable segment of society. The government’s immigration reforms are becoming so harsh that even the UKIP is saying, “Spot checks and being demanded to show your papers by officialdom are not the British way of doing things.” Even though the YouGov poll states that 61% of the public don’t think that the 'Go home, or face arrest' vans for illegal immigrants are racist, a responsible government should not make decisions that impacts lives based on YouGov polls or the number of positive comments in some tabloids or the number of “likes” on Facebook. Martin Luther King got it right when he said, “Ultimately, a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” The government’s de facto Jim Crow reforms have a number of implications, some of which are already happening and others which may happen in the future if it continues at this pace. The reforms are fueling the racial tension in the country thereby resulting in a rise in racial intolerance. The inflammatory rhetoric coming from a number of government officials often sends a wrong signal to closet racists and open racists that they have government approval to carry out racial crimes. One should therefore not be surprised at the high incidence of race insults on the football pitch, TV screens and on the trains in recent years. In addition, the current immigration reform is polarising the British society. In 2012, the government published its Integration Strategy in which the government hoped that millions of individuals would come together around common values, aspirations and interests. Sir, with these de facto Jim Crow immigration reforms in place, black and brown people no longer feel part of this society. The reforms are also creating room for suspicion and when people of one race are suspicious of people of the other race, how can the society be effectively integrated? When landlords are pressurised to become agents of the UKBA or when citizens are told to report “suspected illegal immigrants to our Border Agency through the Crimestoppers phoneline or through the Border Agency website” this promotes a polarised society. Why? The word “suspected illegal immigrant” is very subjective. Anyone who does not fit the profile of a “true Brit” is likely to fall under the “suspected illegal immigrant” label. So when a lady has an Eastern European accent, she is likely to be tagged a “suspected illegal immigrant”; when a person does not look like a Caucasian, he is likely to be tagged a “suspected illegal immigrant.” Sir, unlike other immigrants in this country, the black and brown immigrants stand out because of their skin colour in a majority white populated country. They cannot hide under the shade of white skin tone that prevails in this country. Thus they become the main target of the adverse effects of the de facto Jim Crow Immigration reforms and so it is no surprise that they are being arrested, searched, by the police, asked to go home in the train, refused employment and accommodation because they look like “suspected illegal immigrant.” Moreover, the immigration reform risks jeopardising the British economy. It is a known fact that economic power is shifting from the West to the East and South. Most of the fastest growing economies of the world are populated with brown, black and yellow people. If leaders in countries like India, Nigeria and China feel that Britain is hostile to their citizens, they may divert the businesses, investments and trades which could jump start the British economy to other countries that are more open and friendly. Also, many bright students who would have otherwise studied in Britain may choose to study in other countries such as the USA, Canada or Australia thereby depriving Britain of future scientists and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, as
these students become the leaders of tomorrow, they will not have any ties with Britain and future investments could flow to other countries instead. In addition, Britain needs to realise that she does not have a monopoly of immigrants coming into her country. Remember that there are Brits in different parts of the world. There is a possibility that some of these countries that are impacted by the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration reform could retaliate. For instance, what would happen to the British expatriates working in the Nigerian oil sector if the Nigerian government decides to revoke the visa status of British workers in the oil sector or if the Thailand or Ghanaian Governments embark on say an anti immigration scheme whereby they have a billboard with the message “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH PEDOPHILES IN THIS COUNTRY. GO BACK TO BRITAIN OR FACE ARREST”? Sir, the government’s de facto Jim Crow immigration reform bears some semblance to some of the stages identified by Greg Stanton in his 1996 paper titled “The Eight Stages of Genocide”. The first stage that Mr. Stanton of Genocide Watch describes is the classification stage, in which people are divided into the categories of “them” and “us”. This can be seen in the subtle classification of immigrants into black and white immigrants, rich and poor immigrants; western and non-Western immigrants in which the white, rich and western immigrants are classified as "US" while the black, brown, poor and white non-Western immigrants are classified as "THEM." The second stage is the symbolisation stage. This occurs when the people who have been classified as “them” are given names and symbols associated with the classification. Government officials and the media have given illegal immigrants various labels such as "criminals", "benefit cheats", "lazy",” dishonest”, "untidy" and "immoral". Mr. Stanton describes the third stage as dehumanisation, in which “one group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases”. The emerging pattern of the treatment of illegal immigrants especially the Romanians suggests that this stage is in full force. The fourth stage is organisation. The stopping, searching and detaining of suspected illegal immigrants based on "specific intelligence" is evidence that this stage is on going. The polarisation stage, which is the fifth stage, occurs when the propaganda machine is put in force to reinforce prejudice and hate. Very often, laws are implemented to help achieve this aim. This stage is evident in Britain, not only from the utterances of some government officials, but also from the de facto Jim Crow immigration reform. The sixth stage is the preparation stage. In this stage, victims are identified and separated. According to Mr. Stanton, the victims are “often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps or confined to a famine-struck region and starved”. While illegal immigrants in Britain have not been sent to concentration camps or famine-struck regions, they are being identified and segregated in addition to being harassed by UK Border Agency officials and the police based on their colour, accent or because of a tip off based on "specific intelligence." While I believe that your government is not intent on committing genocide on illegal immigrants, I believe it is important for you to reflect on these stages, as the illtreatment of immigrants in Britain appears to be increasing exponentially, starting first with inflammatory rhetoric, proceeding to harsh laws and progressing to deportation and incarceration. Hopefully it will not reach the extermination or incineration stage. Selah. As a result of your government’s approach to immigration, the rest of the world is beginning to see Britain as a patient suffering from Schizophrenia. With one side of her mouth, Britain tells the world that she is open to foreign investment, foreign businessmen and foreign students and with the other side of her mouth she tells the world that Britain does not welcome foreigners. One cannot tell the Indians to open up to British businesses in February 2013 and then tell the Indians in Britain to GO HOME OR FACE ARREST in July 2013. It is time that you call your advisers and ministers to order and come up with a well thought, reasonable
and humane immigration policy rather than implementing policies that court controversy, polarise society and dehumanise people.
In conclusion, I would like to clarify what I am saying and what I am not saying regarding the government’s immigration reforms. I am not saying that Britain does not have a broken immigration problem; I am not saying that anyone who attempts to fix Britain's broken immigration is a racist; I am not saying that some immigrants are not milking the system and taking advantage of Britain's broken immigration system. What I am saying is that segregating immigrants on the basis of race, accent or financial status is immoral and a crime against humanity; What I am saying is that not ALL immigrants are milking the system; What I am saying is that the government's current approach to fixing Britain's broken immigration system is polarising the society, which leads to no good. Selah.
Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.scribd.com/Alatenumo/documents http://about.me/ahmedsule
cc Rt. Hon Nick Clegg Rt. Hon Ed Miliband Rt. Hon Theresa May Rt. Hon Mark Harper Members of Parliament Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Secretary General Ban Ki-‐moon Operation Black Vote Human Rights Watch
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