Home Office is now a tool for stirring up racial tension


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The Independent Online

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen some very visible signs of the Government’s “hostile environment” crusade. There have been vans out on the streets with threatening slogans and, reportedly, non-white people being visibly stopped and searched.

The Home Office is responsible for community cohesion. Yet we are increasingly seeing what appears to be hostility towards non-white immigration, which will do nothing but incite racial tensions and divisions within otherwise rich and diverse communities.

This has to change. We urgently need a more balanced public debate on immigration, free of political agendas. Without it we risk eroding the very foundations of communities across the UK.

The Government has now made the Home Office, who are also responsible for community policing and safety, a highly visible, taxpayer-funded tool for stirring up racial tension and community unrest. The method and location of these stunts make it hard to believe that they are not targeted at non-white communities, but, whatever the truth, they are certainly perceived that way.

Refugee Action wants to see a more balanced debate about immigration, and believes the Home Office has a huge responsibility to avoid adding to its toxicity. At least in the interests of balance, we’d like some vans which say: “The NHS would collapse without foreign-born staff,” or “the Office of Budget Responsibility says that migration has a positive impact on the sustainability of public finances” or “without immigration Britain would be without tea”.

Dave Garratt is chief executive of Refugee Action