IDS may well have some answers on asylum

PEOPLE seem to have a lot more time for Iain Duncan Smith now than they ever did while he was Conservative leader.

This morning, for instance, he was on the Today programme talking about the new report by his think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, into the asylum system. He made a number of good points and I’m going to have to get a copy.

As a Glasgow MP, I have always had to deal with a large number of asylum cases. Glasgow was the only local authority in Scotland to volunteer to be part of the Home Office’s asylum seeker dispersal programme, aimed at encouraging areas other than London to share responsiblity for supporting asylum seekers.

In the past seven years I have gained a reputation of being hardline on the issue. If someone applies for asylum and that application is approved, they should be welcomed with open arms. If rejected, they should return to their home country. There is no doubt in my mind that the asylum system is being used more by those wishing – for perfectly understandable reasons – to come to the UK to improve the standard of living for themselves and their families, than by those genuinely in need of refuge from an oppressive state.

On more occasions than I care to remember, I have been approached by asylum seekers who tell me, at our first meeting, that despite being in the UK for six or seven years, they still haven’t received a response to their initial application. What they mean is that they still haven’t received a positive decision to their numerous appeals against the initial rejection.

If you’re single and have no children, you lose your state support once you’ve exhausted your appeal rights. Families continue to get support until they leave – voluntarily or involuntarily. But voluntary repatriations don’t happen as frequently as necessary, and involuntary removals of families – leading, occasionally, to the so-called “dawn raids” – aren’t exactly ideal levers for enforcing policy.

Even after early day removals are carried out, courts often delay or prevent a family’s actual removal if a judicial review is lodged at the last minute. And JRs are almost always lodged at the very last minute. This kind of circumstance is distressing for the family, frustrating for immigration and police officers and politically difficult for MPs and the government. Surely, any new policy initiative that would make the initial application for refugee status more robust – and therefore less vulnerable to being subsequently overturned on appeal – should be considered? 

IDS (his real name is plain George Smith, you know) has thought carefully about this issue because it is an important one. He has resisted the temptation to parrot the Daily Mail dog whistle line of “send them all back and the sooner the better” and has opted instead for some measured and considered analysis.

I hope the government is listening.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “IDS may well have some answers on asylum

  1. Andrew F

    Cruel, cruel, cruel.

    Deportation is just plain wrong.

  2. Why? Are you saying that anyone should be allowed to stay in the UK provided they can make it here in the first place, regardless of their background or circumstances?

  3. Andrew F

    Yeah, I know. It’s a practically difficult.

    But I have strong moral objections to the self-righteous idea that people who happened to be born on this lump of land have an inherent right to live here, and everyone else doesn’t. So yes, from an idealistic point of view, I believe in open-borders.

    In reality, my view is more that we should have border police, but that once people are in, good luck to them. Just picking people up and dumping them back into poverty isn’t just cold rejection; it’s actively causing their misery.

  4. Johnny Norfolk

    I agree with you Tom. We cannot support the worlds problems. We do far more than most countries, but with all things if it is abused it can be lost. If you are refused entry you should be returned at once. Its the best fot the individual.

  5. The only fair way to play by Andrew’s rules is to make a straight swap: for every illegal immigrant who stays, a bleeding-heart liberal gets evicted.

    Most people who were born on this “lump of land” have forefathers who fought for it and who built it up to be something.

    If we had had far tighter reigns on immigration starting fifty years ago, we would have far fewer problems in our inner cities and other friction caused by multiculturalism and we would not be witnessing the collapse of our own culture.

    That’s the real danger!

    It would be nice if we could all go wherever we wanted at all times, but in reality, it is not feasible.

    I do support the Gurkhas because they have a legitimate claim, but numerous bad eggs have been allowed to stay in the UK.

    Do you think this is right, Andrew?

  6. Andrew F. There is nothing particularly self-righteous about owning land or property and wanting to keep it to ourselves. If we followed your line of logic I and others could invite ourselves to stay at your house for bit, dig up your garden and use your car.

    People earn the right to own property. They earn the right to keep it. They earn the right to a quality of life. Some economic refugees come to this country to plunder it, and do so by falsely claiming asylum from persecution. That is not very “moral” is it?

    Often they come from societies that are not as advanced or a civilised as ours. Please don’t try and argue this one, look at Africa a continent of disease, genocide, tribal warfare and corruption. The effect of unfettered immigration would mean a net loss by the indigenous population, a descent into crime and anarchy. Ultimately the framework of democracy would favour the immigrants and you would end up with another mess like Zimbabwe that has gone from being a thriving economy under white rule, to a catastrophe under Mugabe.

    We are a tribal society. By that I mean we elect to be with people who have the same beliefs and the same social attitudes. Society is an agreement to adhere to certain ways of interaction. People from other cultures may not elect to do this, but will stand to benefit from it. I don’t think that is fair to us, do you?

    The way to deal with the asylum issue is to make the system transparent, unequivocal and speedy. Successful asylum applicants must then be given help with language and provided with work in an environment that helps them to integrate, not just stick them in their own ghetto and forget about them.

  7. I agree, IDS is pretty sound on many social issues. And I agree that your, seemingly hard, line is justified in this imperfect world.

    One thing that might help would be the removal of any incentives to lawyers to spin out asylum cases for as long as possible. Sorry that’s two anti-lawyer comments in a week. You’d never think that some of my best friends are lawyers would you. I am, of course, in no way bitter that some of them are considerably richer than I am!

  8. Here’s a bit of news which might easily have passed you by:

    “A landmark legal ruling has paved the way for thousands of asylum seekers in the UK to be allowed to work. The High Court has ruled that current laws preventing an Eritrean asylum seeker from taking a job are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Last night legal experts said the test case would have major ramifications for others seeking asylum…”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/dec/14/ruling-frees-asylum-seeker-work

  9. Eritrea has a genuinely evil man in charge. A couple of years ago I contacted the FCO to try and get pressure put on him as his regime locks Christians up in steel shipping containers until they deny Christ, which few do.

    What we need is the so-called civilised West to put pressure on these despots. Unfortunately, Eritrea has no oil.

  10. John

    What really get’s me is the sheer numbers “fleeing oppression” who travel through Germany, Spain, France, Italy etc.. on their way to the UK.

    Tell me, what is so oppressive about our European partners? What are they fleeing from in France, Germany, Italy etc..?

    Could it be that the UK is seen as a soft touch? Could it be that we offer more than other countries in terms of benefits and housing? Bingo.

    I have absolutely no problem with immigration. Skilled migrants should be welcomed with open arms. Unskilled migrants is something we no longer need, and the humanitarian reasons are totally unsustainable, as like it or not, the solution to global problems is not to migrate the people of the third world to the west. The solution is to invest in the third world and bridge the gap between the third world and the west.

  11. Chris' Wills

    I agree that the rules should be tightened up (enforced, more than added to) and lawyers should be on no win no fee for after the first appeal rather than legal aid.

    My biggest concern is when, as has happened, some people have been repatriated to Zimbabwe where they are likely to be murdered by the goverment whilst the UK goverment refuses to extradite people to the Yemen.

    It seems that the word of Mugabe is considered more truthful than that of Saleh when believing if a death sentence (or disappearance) will occur.

    Consistancy would be a pleasant change, too often political expediancy seems to intervene.

    Thinking of Zimbabwe, would it be right to repatriate someone to that land of death under any circumstances (apart from ZANU members of course)? Perhaps temporary right to reside here until the home country is in slightly better fettle?

    Then again return to the last country they passed through might work, nowadays it is unlikely to be Zimbabwe.

    On the widow and children of the Ghurka killed whilst serving the UK. He, by his actions and sacrifice, has earned the right for them to stay in the UK and I cannot conceive of the thought process that would deny it. They also deserve a decent pension.
    http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/southkent/text/Gurkha-soldiers-s-widow-faces-deportation-threat/article-538359-detail/article.html

  12. Andrew F

    @Stewart

    I always get a twinge of pride when someone calls me a bleeding-heart liberal. Oh no! He just called me compassionate! How insulting.

    On the, “my great grandfather… yadda yadda” thing: that’s all very well. Your forefathers can live here. But why, pray tell, does the fact that your forefathers shed blood entittle you to live here.

    Because – let’s face it – if we’re going to play that game, someone is going to say to us, “Well, perhaps my forefathers would have done a better job building the economy my country, if they hadn’t been enslaved by yours. That way, I wouldn’t have to come here.” And then you’re going to mumble something about bleeding hearts.

    As for ‘bad eggs’, I’m inclined to think that the number of criminally-inclined people coming from abroad is roughly proportionately equal to the number of criminally-inclined people we have domestically. And that, sir, was classic xenophobia on your part.

    @wrinkled weasel:

    So, I’ve earned the right to my house, I’ve earned the right to my car. So, people can’t use those without my permission. Uh-huh. Following the analogy. But here you lose me: what excatly did I do to earn my British citizenship except get born here?

    And I don’t think you can legitimately attack people for lying about their reason for wanting to stay here – not unless you’ve witnessed the alternative. I visited Sierra Leone a couple of months back, and saw unimaginable poverty. (Pardon the cliche.) People there aren’t going to be tortured at the hands of a dictator… but I’d call starvation torturous. Wouldn’t you?

    Finally: the tribal argument cuts little ice. I don’t really think that many people in the UK elect to live in our kind of society anymore than people in Islamic theocracies elect to. Most people aren’t revolutionary; they just take what they’re given and settle for the right to vote. And if immigrants don’t want to abide by this, uh, tribe’s method of social interaction, then we have legal sanctions to use against them.

  13. John – it’s because we speak American. If an asylum seeker speaks anything of a second language it’s likely to be ours…

  14. Andy

    Andrew F, you really don’t understand do you. Many people’s parents and grandparents (the former in my case), fought, literally for what they saw as the values of our country. Did you do that, ever? If you did, great, stop reading now. If you didn’t or haven’t, then don’t be so patronising to people who have put their own lives on the line and who have given you a chance to espouse those values from your ivory tower, safe in the knowledge that you’ll never have to do the same.

    Actions vs words old chap, actions vs words

  15. Andrew F

    Andy:

    I Didn’t ask them to. I’d rather they were pacifists in my name, thanks, but nevermind that for now.

    When was the last time someone started a war with Britain? In case you haven’t noticed, we join wars voluntarily – sometimes justifiably – but not, in the last century, to protect our borders. Anyone who has fought ‘for this country’ is now dead.

    My point being this: back in the day, xenophobes fought for this country, and liberals fought for this country. So, how about it: I’ll be the liberal, you be the xeneophobe, and no one need talk about ‘ivory towers’.

    While we’re on the subject, there were some people fighting specifically for a national identity in WW2… They were the same people who were gassing jews. If we’re going to honour history, let’s at least get one fundamental right: history is not the friend of nationalism.

  16. My last post fell foul of the censor. I think it was the first half that may have been too true for comfort, so I’ll just repeat the last bit and hope for the best:

    Andrew – above all you should realise that mass immigration, multiculturalism and the diversity industry are divide and rule instruments to bring down our society.

    The society that is developing is a segmented one where each ‘community’ is looking for the best deal. That has to lead to strife.

  17. Mark

    @ AndrewF

    I would just like to ask a couple of clarifying questions related to your last comment:

    “…we join wars voluntarily – sometimes justifiably – but not, in the last century, to protect our borders…” seems to miss the fact that WWI and WWII were both fought in a bid to “protect this country” – since in either case, our primary opponent would have happily crossed our borders. Do you not agree? Both of these wars were fought during this past century (count 100 years backward if you need to check 2008-100 years = 1908)

    And secondly “…Anyone who has fought ‘for this country’ is now dead…” is probably the single biggest insult to those who have fought and been either victorious, injured or killed in battles on behalf of Britain – whether directlt defending our borders or not… and just to be clear, are those servicemen who fought in WWII and are still alive no longer worth recognition?

    I imagine that you have significant problems with UK foreign policy at present – I will agree with you on many points (Iraq being just one), I am sure. BUT, the comment I mentioned above about dead servicepeople suggests that you also don’t support our people on the ground now. To quote from a recent poster I saw – and happen to agree with whole-heartedly – “If you can’t get behind our troops, feel free to get in front of them”

  18. Andrew F

    *Stewart: is it any wonder that our communities are fragmented when such a vast proportion of the caucasian population shouts off so often about the damn immigrants. Cultures mutate – Britain today isn’t remotely comparable to Britain 100 years ago; and if anything is preventing the peaceful intergration of immigrants, it’s the mistrust shown by the right and centre-righ in this country.

    Put yourself in the shoes of a former asylum seeker, and then imagine whether you’d want to live among the people who slag you off on TalkSport and in the Pub and on blogs like this. I certainly wouldn’t. I’d retreat, and live among people who don’t despise my presence.

    Mark:

    *No one declared war on us in either WW1 or WW2.

    In the case of the foremost, Franz Ferdinand got killed and a round of diplomatic dominoes ensued. I’ve read some pretty decent stuff suggesting we’d be better off if the other side had won that war.

    With regards to the latter, Hitler repeatedly made us peace-offerings, which Churchill (quite rightly) refused flat-out. We declared war on Germany when they invaded Poland, not Britain.

    And sure, in the long-term maybe the Germans planned to expand to the UK. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that joining the war had anything to do with successfully protecting the mainland; for that, we have to thank the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. So, protecting our borders was neither the intention behind, nor the outcome arising from, WW2.

    *No, fighting in Iraq for monetary gain doesn’t make someone a hero in my book. Putting on uniform doesn’t mean you relinquish all moral responsibility for the bullets you fire, and it certainly doesn’t mean you get to be a xenophobe.

    *As for dead soldiers who fought ‘for this country’, I was responding to the implication that one gains transfered ownership of this country if your forefathers fought for it. Because in the minds of fascists, the fact that your great grandfather shot a German in WW1 means you get to be xenophobic.

    Which is absurd for more than one reason.

  19. Andrew, I never try and sideline people who were not born and bred in this country, in fact I try and make the effort to engage with them, e.g. the Romanian girl who stands outside Tesco’s selling the Big Issue.

    I feel for her and don’t walk by on the other side of the street, but the fact is, as you will appreciate, that importing homeless people is not going to do them any good and not going to do us any good.

    It is a lose-lose situation and I could expand on this to cover many other scenarios.

    Contrary to what you say, I think that the British people have been extremely tolerant – unnaturally and unhealthily so. It seems we are an international laughing stock due to political correctness. In any other country, new arrivals would be expected to respect the society they are joining, not have it re-engineered for them at the expense of everyone else.

    I don’t slag off asylum seekers, but I am not naive enough to presume that they are all in mortal danger if they return to their homelands.

    I don’t like being used and lied to; do you?

    You didn’t address my point that “mass immigration, multiculturalism and the diversity industry are divide and rule instruments to bring down our society.”

  20. Sorry, Tom, I would just like to clarify something from my previous post.

    When I wrote “I think that the British people have been extremely tolerant – unnaturally and unhealthily so,” I was referring to our relationship with those in power who seek to change our way of life.

  21. The immigration law is riddled with problems. And the practical application more so. Very unfair at times. Very silly at times. Lacking discretion to even out unfairness and silliness when these occur. In a case – not currently asylum – in which I am involved as the original sponsor for a work permit – shows how the initial unfairness can be compounded by the activities of various govt departments, even by their intended kindnesses. Unintended consequences.

    But “No Borders” is not a position that any serious political party could adopt, and is counter productive too for currently un-serious yet ambitious parties who will never gather momentum with such albatrosses around their necks.

  22. Indy

    Stewart – Mass immigration, multiculturalism and diversity industry are part of modern life. The whole thrust of economic policy for decades has been to bring down barriers, remove protectionism, encourage competition and the free movement of capital and goods.

    It is naïve to think that you can promote the free movement of goods and capital while restricting the free movement of people.

    You can control it and regulate it but you can’t restrict it.

    If you want to escape from immigration, multiculturalism and diversity you will just have to find yourself a time machine.

  23. Ellie Conway

    Sorry, Tom, as someone who has worked with asylum seekers in Glasgow at all stages in the process and who is conducting academic research into the asylum system as a whole, your assertions simply don’t match the reality of the process for many asylum seekers in our fair city. The length of time it takes the authorities to process asylum claims is hardly the fault of the people who make them – you seem to seriously imply that it’s that pesky right to appeal against negative decisions that prevents us from speedy and effective removals of ‘failed’ asylum seekers. There must be a right of appeal, not least because of the number of cases which are returned positively on a second or third hearing. And ‘their numerous appeals’ must always be based on new and compelling evidence which they have managed to gather themselves from their country of origin about their persecution, not a review of evidence already presented. The system is extremely lengthy, complex and very difficult to negotiate, and, in my experience, extracts a huge personal price from many human beings who have genuinely undergone severe physical and psychological damage.

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