UK Border Agency
A lot has been said, for and against, free movement within the EU. Most people think it means that any EU national can travel to another EU country and live there, work there or look for work. That’s true for the first three months. But after that it becomes murkier. One has to ‘access one’s freedom of movement rights’ which means being in employment, being self-employed, being a student with finance for the duration of the course, or having funds to sustain oneself and family. Freedom of movement is one of the founding principles of the EU, designed to support the economies of EU countries by providing a mobile work force. However, did you know that the UK government is forcibly deporting hundreds of EU nationals, many of them illegally?
With a constituency of 8.6 million people candidates for Mayor of London will be seeking a mandate to represent the capital city from one of the largest electorates in Europe, and certainly the most diverse. Over 3 million Londoners were born outside the UK, according to the last census. Forty-four percent define themselves as being black or from other ethnic minority groups. More than three-quarters say that English is their first or only language, 20 percent say they speak a second language either well or very well.
If you take a map of almost anywhere in the UK and plot into all the evidence of immigration raids on business premises which UKVI helpfully provides two things emerge very clearly. The first of these is the tendency for this enforcement activity to cluster in and around neighbourhoods where ethnic minorities are densest. The second comes from looking at the names of the businesses which have had civil penalty fines imposes on them. In the vast majority of cases the fact of their ethnicity is the critical factor.
There has been much talk in recent times about the potential for a ‘points-based scheme’ (PBS) being used to control immigration in the event that the UK votes to leave the EU in the June referendum. The supporters of this approach frequently cite the example of Australia as providing a model which would allow a ‘tougher’ attitude to be taken to admitting the migrants who the UK authorities believe are necessary for the UK economy.
In a few weeks, on 1 February, my best friend will be given a new responsibility by the UK government: guarding the UK border. Though this sounds like a daunting task, the way the government has set things up, he will not have to give up his current job as a digital editor to carry it out. He can do it as he goes about his day–to-day life. Nonetheless, being quite critical of the government’s immigration policy, immigration control is not a responsibility he would have assumed of his own accord. So how did he end up in this situation?