Thursday, November 22, 2007

'Be Tough' but also 'Be Fair'

Immigration is a sensitive subject to post about. There's not much sympathy around for anyone that the Government deems has no right to be in the UK at the moment. I accept that things are out of control and the current level of immigration is unsustainable - but we must be fair and proportionate. I've been moidering about an aspect of this issue which was discussed over lunch yesterday while I was in London. Its a question of what's right.

Over recent years, many immigrants have come to the UK to work in the care sector - often on the basis of fixed term contracts of up to 5 years. I dread to think what would have happened to our care home sector without immigrant labour. But suddenly, some of these people are being sent home. It seems to be a knee jerk reaction by the Government to the general public disquiet about immigration levels. I'm told that the Government has changed the rules, and only 'senior' care home workers (paid about £7.50 an hour) are deemed to qualify to enter the UK. People who are paid less than this figure, even if they have young children in school, are being sent back home as not qualifying to work in the UK. Unfair, unreasonable and heartless.

I detest this sort of retrospective action. It would be acceptable to enforce this ruling (if it is deemed to be necessary) on future immigrants. It seems to be deeply unfair on people who have come here in good faith. These rules only apply to legal immigrants of course. I've no doubt that there is something in the small print which the Government can point to as authority to act this way. But we are talking about fellow human beings here. I hope that there are MPs brave enough to take this issue on. They will have no thanks and it will not win them votes. But they would have the satisfaction of knowing that they were doing something good.

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