Friday, September 28, 2007

No one is illegal

A sad story in the South London Press today, eight people arrested at a building site in Clyde Terrace, Sydenham in a raid by police and the Border and Immigration Agency who 'checked identity documents to establish whether employees had the right to work. The men arrested are from Cameroon, Jamaica, Ghana, Nigeria and Ukraine. Steps are now being taken to remove them from the country'. A couple of weeks ago there was a similar tale, with three workers from Iran, Iraq and Kosovo arrested at a car wash in Lewisham Road. Fishing expeditions for so called 'illegal' workers seem to be becoming increasingly common round here - earlier in the year I came across a big immigration/police operation in New Cross Road. They seemed to be going on to buses and checking people's tickets - anything unusual and people were getting passed to immigration people to check their papers. Behind all these stories are human tragedies - parents who went out to work in the morning and didn't come back to pick their kids up from school, lovers who were forcibly separated.

What is shocking about these stories is the assumption that people who are just going about their daily lives without harming anybody can be treated as criminals, arrested and locked up in detention centres just for having the wrong papers - and that this should be regarded as normal. The South London Press car wash story even invited readers to phone Crimestoppers to 'report suspected illegal workers'. A dangerous trend in which whole categories of people, rather than actions, can be classified as illegal and in which Gordon Brown can revive the 1970s National Front slogan of 'British Jobs for British Workers' and barely raise an eyebrow.

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