Monday, December 03, 2007

Restricting rights

Labourista has an excellent post in response to the Home Office's idea of restricting access to GPs for 'failed asylum seekers and irregular migrants'.

The Migrants Resource Centre's 'Seeking Asylum' report details the consequences of trying to force people to leave the UK by making their living conditions intolerable - many go without food for more than one day a week, the staff that deal with them are unhelpful, rude or racist, they live in unsafe accommodation or are forced to sleep on the streets, they are desperate to work and contribute but are breaking the law if they do so, worried and stressed with the uncertainty of a complicated and very slow system. And having put in place policies which make people sick, the Home Office is now proposing to stop them being able to see a GP.

It would be pathetic and cowardly if all this were to reduce public concern about the issue of immigration. But, worse than that, it is totally counter-productive for that purpose. Because the whole case for restricting access to services for asylum-seekers is based on myth and anecdote, the more that the government does to restrict access to services, the more public concern about bogus scrounging immigrants getting things which they shouldn't be entitled to has grown.

For people who believe that they and their families will be murdered if they are deported, even extreme deprivation won't make them leave (up until the point where the UK government openly introduces death squads and torture). And the tougher the government claims it is being, the easier it is for racists to whip up outrage about real or imaginary examples of migrants who have managed to work, or get healthcare, or find somewhere to live.

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