Please, don’t less this be the future for a Britain now signed up to less liberal immigration policies. From a story about how an anti-immigration backlash plays out in Japan:

Families have been broken apart as parents of children born in Japan have been detained and deported. People who seemed to qualify for a special residency permit (SRP), designed for those who overstay their visa but wish to remain, have been denied. Forced deportations have become more frequent and rougher … This year alone, two detainees have committed suicide, one has publicly complained of abuse, and 70 inmates staged a hunger strike demanding better treatment.

people cannot apply directly for an SRP: illegal residents can only request it once in detention, or turn themselves in and try their luck while deportation proceedings are under way. So most illegal residents just stay mum. Mr Suraj fell into the SRP abyss after he was arrested for overstaying his visa. Although he had lived in Japan for 22 years, was fluent in the language and married to a Japanese citizen, his SRP request was denied.

ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ was already unconscious when the cabin crew of EgyptAir MS965 saw him on board, before the Tokyo-to-Cairo flight. Shortly later he was dead.

As for Mr Suraj’s widow, she has yet to receive details about her husband’s death or an official apology. The topic is one Japanese society would rather avoid. The press barely reported it. Still, when her name appeared online, she was fired from her job lest the incident sully her firm’s name.

I was immensely proud of the Liberal Democrats’ policy (developed when Nick Clegg was Home affairs spokesman): of giving earned amnesty to people who had stayed illegally in Britain for 10 years, had a spotless criminal record, and wanted to come out of the shadows and start paying us tax.   Against our illiberal press, I thought the policy needed a human face to make it work – a picture of the sort of people and the sort of treatment they might get if an alternative policy of forced deportation no matter what was applied.

Mr Suraj is a chilling example of what the Lib Dems were trying to avoid.


6 thoughts on “Most shocking quote from the Economist this week

  1. The problem here is that while the Liberal Democrats may have had a nice policy on illegal immigration, they were unwilling to make the positive case for immigration. Migrants don’t “steal” people’s jobs. Migrants aren’t all on benefits – in aggregate they are net contributors to the tax system.

    Now, there’s a hostile attitude out there in the media and amongst the average citizenry, so ducking this issue is politically understandable, but that leads to no mainstream politicians standing up for migrants and cross-border economics, and it means that when you do try and present a policy like the earned amnesty one, you end up conceding whole swaths of argument space to your opponents, because you are still committed to negative policies on regular migration (e.g. the regional points-based system – a pseudo-Gosplan for migration). Someone needs to open up the Overton window, and its not going to be Ed Miliband.

  2. It’s funny (in a sad way) how the average boob just doesn’t realize just how much better his life is made by immigrants.

    You’d figure something so obvious would be manifest to even the dullest bigot!

  3. Obviously Mr. Suraj’s death looks to be an absolutely appalling abuse of power, but I don’t think it follows that an amnesty on illegal immigrants is correct. It comes down to two questions – should the government be able to control the borders and should people be expected to follow the law. The vast majority of Japanese people would answer yes to both of those questions.
    Whether in the future immigration laws might be relaxed doesn’t change the responsibility of visitors to a country to obey its laws as they stand – the kindness that immigration authorities might show in overlooking infractions (in certain cases) shouldn’t be established as a general rule or right.

    1. “the kindness that immigration authorities might show in overlooking infractions (in certain cases) shouldn’t be established as a general rule or right”

      It should be pointed out that the LD policy was not to establish a GENERAL rule that in future anyone who stayed 10 years was fine to be regularised; but instead that a big one-off regularisation should take place, to deal with the overhang from decades of mismanagement

  4. What a nice change to see a compassionate piece on illegal immigrants. The Lib Dems were right to want to grant them an amnesty because we have all these people working in our economy but without the protection of the state. Many illegal immigrants work as shelf stackers in newsagents or independent supermarkets; or in the food industry for a salary well below the minimum wage. They don’t take ‘our’ jobs. I have never seen a queue of job seekers form outside these places I mention. Even if the policies on immigration don’t have a compassionate face on them can we as citizens of this country lace our rhetoric with compassion?

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