Blogs by Don Flynn
The Friday 13th attacks in Paris are being interpreted by many commentators as politicians as a watershed moment in public attitudes towards refugee policies in Europe.
But as recently as August and September this year hundreds and thousands of European citizens took a remarkable stand of declaring a welcome for refugees coming from the war-torn Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.
State borders hold a place in the collective imagination of our times in which anxiety plays a central part. It is at borders that the mundane certainties of life dissolve and the simple business of existing becomes a matter of uncertainty. This is the place where a person is forced to confront with the sharpest of intensity the fact that the rights which usually seem as securely available as an intimate personal possession are in fact a by-product of their relationship with the authorities of a state. It is at the border that this relationship can be called into most fundamental question. "I see you are in possession of a British passport madam", says the immigration officer.
Victims of exploitative employers or ‘illegal workers’ who should be thrown out the country? Government anti-slavery plans are in danger of failing unless this dangerous ambiguity is addressed.
Two bits of news last week will be seen as unwelcome by all those who think the Modern Slavery Act will have finally crack the problem of exploited labour.
The first comes from information that the Edmonton MP, Kate Osamor, managed to dig out from the Home Office after around a round of relentless questioning back in October.
In queries put to the government’s new Modern Slavery Minister, Karen Bradley, Osamor sought information on the numbers of people identified as victims of forced labour and who had been granted a safe haven.
The efforts of the UK government to get fresh immigration legislation on the statute book have been strangely under-reported in the UK media. Those in the know about the impact of new laws and regulations have been keen to flag up its dangers but the real public debate about its consequences has yet to begin.
The debate during the second reading in the Commons on 13th October followed predictable lines of argument, with the official opposition affirming its commitment to tough immigration controls that would bear down on so-called illegal immigration. At the same time it declined to support the measure on the grounds that the approach to achieving this end set out in the Bill would have the effect of ‘reducing social cohesion’, causing hardship to children and increasing discrimination against ethnic minorities.
The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) renewed renewed its call for governments to come up with a more strategic direction for immigration policy at its eighth annual session in Istanbul last week
Migration and development seemed to have a head of steam behind them a decade or so back when ‘progressive’ political currents felt confident that globalisation was carrying us all forward to a better future based on free markets with lowered international trade barriers.
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