Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Cambridge MP Fears Immigration Campaign Could Lead To Vigilante Action

MP Julian Huppert fears the government’s latest immigration campaign could stir up vigilante trouble on the streets.

He is worried that billboard vans travelling across London telling illegal immigrants to ‘go home’ could lead to people from ethnic minorities being targeted by racists.

Julian, Co-Chair of the Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Commission told Immigration Minister, Mark Harper in a letter that the campaign could be misconstrued as pandering to racism and xenophobia.

He expressed his concerns following a series of immigration raids which resulted in the Home Office posting pictures of some of those arrested on the social networking site, Twitter. Some of the postings referred to “immigration offenders” without any regard to the fact that they had not been proved to be so.

He told Mr Harper: “I absolutely accept that we have to have robust and fair immigration controls. It is not acceptable for people to break the rules and to be here or work illegally. However, I am sure you would agree with me that the government must not be seen to be pandering to racism and xenophobia.

“However inadvertently, the recent actions and rhetoric from the Home Office have tended that way, and would give comfort to those who are racist and xenophobic. I and many others are concerned that the impression presented by the Home Office could lead to vigilante action against people from ethnic minorities, even if they are here perfectly legally – and many are British citizens as you know. People must not be stigmatised because of the colour of their skin.

Referring to the arrests which were publicised on Twitter, Julian has asked how many of the 139 people detained were found to have committed an offence and how many are being removed from the country.

He also asked for the countries of origin of the 139 people and what steps the Home Office is taking to make sure that people from ethnic minorities legally living in the UK were not stigmatised or subjected to vigilante action.

Julian said later: “I fully accept that we have to stop people living or working illegally in this country but this campaign is tasteless. It could put people in danger including those who have a legal right to be here.

“I know the government has a tough job on its hands controlling immigration in this country but this is not the way to go about tackling the problems.”