LETTERS: Unnecessary Bill on immigration

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Home Secretary's new Asylum and Immigration Bill, which threatens to fine employers of illegal immigrants, is an unnecessary piece of legislation. It appears to be designed not to tackle the problem of illegal immigration, but to bolster the Government's declining popularity in the opinion polls.

The pattern of illegal immigration to Britain is well-known. People from the Indian subcontinent enter Britain either as visitors or refugees. On arrival they apply to the Home Office for political asylum on the pretext that they are persecuted in their own countries. It usually takes 18 months to two years before their applications for political asylum are dealt with. While their applications are being considered, they manage to find extremely low-paid jobs in Asian shops, stores and construction companies. By the time they hear the result of their applications, which almost invariably means rejection and deportation, they save enough money to go back and start business in their own countries.

If the Government is genuinely interested in solving the problem of illegal immigration, it should first put its own house in order by reducing the time-scale of dealing with asylum seekers' applications from two years to two months. To introduce legislation which is likely to adversely affect British Asians far more than asylum seekers would not only be a retrogressive step in the field of race relations, but also would unwittingly "legitimise" racism in employment.

Yours faithfully,

Randhir Singh Bains

Gants Hill, Essex

8 October