Sir: Nirj Deva, MP, is quite wrong to describe the current Asylum and Immigration Bill as "fair and firm". The Bill is undoubtedly firm but is not fair, for it is likely to have adverse implications for refugees from Third World countries.
Notwithstanding the Government's persistent denial, the Bill is specifically designed to curb the flow of refugees from Asia and Africa, not from Poland. The East European countries have been included to make the Bill appear more credible and mask its racist connotations.
The Tory government used similar strategies in the late Seventies when, in order to curb visitors from the Indian sub-continent, it extended the Immigration Act to include visitors from the old Commonwealth. The Act was meant to treat all visitors equally, irrespective of their race, but in reality it worked against the visitors from the new Commonwealth, for white Australians and Canadians encountered little difficulty in getting into this country.
The current Asylum and Immigration Bill, like its predecessor, is also likely to generate two sets of unwritten codes: one for dealing, albeit sympathetically, with "genuine" refugees from Eastern Europe and the other for dealing firmly with "economic" refugees from the Third World.
There is little doubt that the Bill is carefully timed and designed not to solve the problem of illegal immigration but to bolster the Government's declining popularity in the opinion polls.
Randhir Singh Bains
24 NovemberReuse content