Immigration

Refugees: Criminalising the Persecuted

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Although Britain hosts just 2 percent of the world's refugees - 0.3 percent of its population - the asylum debate is imbued with a dangerous hysteria.

The 'Sun' describes asylum seekers as 'a sea of humanity polluted with disease' and the 'Mail' writes that Britain is 'a haven for Albanian gangsters, Kosovan people smugglers and Algerian terrorists'. The tabloid articles, however, represent the poison stirred up by the deeper currents of government policy. In a recent interview cabinet minister Peter Hain wove terrorism, drugs smuggling and asylum into a single soundbite, paving the way for remarks by one of Britain's most senior police officers.

Immigration - Labour Puts Asylum in Focus

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Labour's intellectuals prepared the party's current lurch to the right on asylum and immigration. Blairite thinkers in the 'Policy Network' said Labour must adopt the policies of the far right to stop the growth of the far right, and in particular must attack asylum seekers.

Recent initiatives by Tony Blair, David Blunkett and Jack Straw show the message was received and understood.

Asylum: Europe's Number One Fortress

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David Blunkett's white paper on asylum and immigration, 'Secure Borders, Safe Haven', published last month, will lead to further persecution of asylum seekers.

Under the proposals, asylum seekers are to be systematically segregated--they will either be forced to stay in accommodation centres or locked up in detention camps. New arrivals will be sent immediately to 'induction centres', modelled on the controversial Oakington centre near Cambridge, where their claims will be processed. Here already frightened, desperate people will be confronted with an array of immigration officials. They will be obliged to sign a document saying they understand the asylum seeker system.

The Culture of Discontent

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What is "Britishness"?

So David Blunkett has decided, like Norman Tebbit before him, that immigrants should be tested for their responsiveness to British cultural values! In Tebbit's case, the key test was cricket. A British person was a man (note!) who knew his cricket, who understood the world of cork on willow, and the deep significance of taking tea and cream scones on the village green.

Black and White Lies

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Race in Britain

It didn't take long for this government's brief flirtation with Britain's Muslims to come to an end. No sooner had the war against Afghanistan been 'won', accompanied by convenient pictures of religious leaders on the steps of 10 Downing Street, than it was back to normal. Tony Blair tucked his copy of the Koran away, and out came the Old Testament figure of home secretary David Blunkett.

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