Urquhart said: “It’s hard to put it any more succinctly than the Sky News reporter who summarised Cameron’s message to migrants as: ‘We are going to treat you like criminals’.”
JEAN URQUHART, independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has said the prime minister’s immigration speech on Thusday “scapegoated migrants”, and the new measures he seeks to impose to seize wages from migrants without a valid visa are “shockingly draconian”.
David Cameron was speaking after new migration figures were released on Wednesday [21 May] showing an increase in net migration to the UK in 2014 of 318,000.
Cameron said he would not “cave in” on his target to reduce net migration to below 100,000 a year, despite the fact EU leaders have been consistent in stating that the principle of free movement of labour within the European Union was not up for debate.
The prime minister is seeking to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU in advance of a referendum on whether the UK should stay in or not in 2016 or 2017.
“Cameron’s speech this morning scapegoated migrants, then used that as a pretext for shockingly draconian and unjust proposals.” Jean Urquhart
As part of a new immigration bill that will be announced formally at the Queen’s Speech on 27 May, Cameron said he would seek to crack down on immigrants who are undocumented or who’s visas are no longer valid by seizing their wages, as well as making it a legal right for landlords to investigate their tenants eligibility to live in the UK.
“Cameron’s speech this morning scapegoated migrants, then used that as a pretext for shockingly draconian and unjust proposals,” Urquhart told CommonSpace.
“It’s hard to put it any more succinctly than the Sky News reporter who summarised Cameron’s message to migrants as: ‘We are going to treat you like criminals’.”
She added: “His plan to make ‘illegal working’ a criminal offence is nothing less than a back-door way of criminalising undocumented migrants. If undocumented migrants working in our businesses and contributing to our economy really was the problem he claims, he would punish the employers, not the migrants.”
Urquhart said that the added danger of such policies was that immigrants would have little access to justice to make a viable challenge.
“From Legal Aid cuts to employment tribunal charges, the Conservatives in government have made a concerted assault on access to justice and today’s speech continued that effort,” she said.
“His plan to deport undocumented migrants without appeal, forcing them to attempt to appeal remotely from another country, radically reduces the chance of a fair hearing.”
“This renewed attack on migrants makes it all the more important that we refuse to be quiet in the face of xenophobia.” Jean Urquhart
Urquhart also decried Cameron’s attempt to make landlords investigate immigrants as “turning landlords into immigration officers”, adding that because housing was a devolved matter she would be “looking into what the Scottish Parliament can do to protect our migrant tenants from suffering this intrusion and threat of homelessness.”
The Highlands and Islands MSP launched her own campaign in March to challenge anti-immigrant attitudes in politics and the media, Not My Xenophobia (click here to read more), and said the campaign would be ramping up its efforts in the context of a “renewed attack on migrants”.
“I’m hugely grateful to all those who have already taken part in the #notmyxenophobia campaign online by calling out anti-immigrant attitudes in politics and the media. This renewed attack on migrants makes it all the more important that we refuse to be quiet in the face of xenophobia,” she said.
Picture courtesy of Number 10