Letter: Objections to an ID card system

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The Independent Online
Sir: The support which you report (12 August) as existing among sections of the Conservative Party for ID cards, and the editorial support you give for ID cards 'with safeguards' (13 August) is misguided. You rightly report the Tory preoccupation with illegal immigration, but to suggest that an ID system will help check illegal immigrants is nave, and unworkable if it is not to result in gross harassment of non-white Europeans.

You must be careful about the extent to which black Europeans will be affected. Non-white EC nationals and some of the more than eight million black, non-EC nationals legally resident in the European Community are increasingly checked more thoroughly at airports, despite having perfectly valid EC passports. I know this happens - as a black British citizen I have been detained at two European airports, once in Luxembourg because it was suspected that I was carrying a false British passport.

How easy it would be for any one of the EC's legally resident black citizens to be checked and harassed, and, most importantly, to fear harassment, because they carry a form of ID that can be demanded by an EC police officer or customs official. When white Europeans talk about ID cards I wonder if they understand the humiliation that black Europeans may face in a Europe that boasts free movement but may in reality be less free for some.

Yours sincerely,

CLAUDE MORAES

Director

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

London, EC1

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