Dear Home Secretary,

As a liberal Conservative I am writing to express concern over the measures you have taken to bring immigration under control. I understand that immigration is an issue that is at the forefront of British politics. Nevertheless, it does not justify the following measures: deportation of asylum seekers, discrimination against foreign students, refusal to accept more than 187 Syrian refuges, and even the deportation of academics who contribute to British society. It is for these reasons and many more that I fear the road Britain is taking.

Tamils, Syrians and the story of Isa Muazu.

Speaking as a British Tamil, I expressed a great deal of pride and respect for the Prime Minister when he visited Jaffna and demanded an investigation into the allegations of war crimes. It illustrated that our government was willing to stand up for human rights and take action when necessary. Sadly, this was greatly undermined by the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers within the UK. The advocacy group ‘Freedom From Torture’ has released a report which illustrates the ongoing torture which these asylum seekers face.

To my dismay, the deportation of asylum seekers revealed a contradiction in which Conservatives are willing to use a hollow veil of liberal rhetoric to garner support but often remain unwilling to act. This was again highlighted with the plight of Syrian refuges. Whilst the UK was willing to donate £700 million in humanitarian aid, it refused to take in more than 500 refuges. This is appalling considering the fact that, ‘even smaller nations such as Norway, Sweden, Ireland and Finland have offered more places than Britain’.

Perhaps what is most striking and indicative of our immigration policy is the story of Isa Muazu.  Muazu came from Nigeria in 2007 on a visitor’s visa which ran out in 2008, he was subsequently detained and attempted to apply for asylum. He claimed he was likely to be killed by Boko Haram, which he says has already killed members of his family. Out of fear and desperation he began a hunger strike which lasted over three months but the government consistently pushed for deportation and were in the end successful. Muazu preferred death over returning to Nigeria but the government reinforced the mantra that ‘we must protect our borders’ no matter the cost.

The contribution of immigrants.

As a firm believer in human rights, I viewed these actions as a cold and calculated attempt to drive down immigration. The more ‘pragmatic’ among us may argue that these people were a drain on society and it was in Britain’s best interest to deport them. Whilst from a moral stance I find this despicable: I can acknowledge the reasoning behind it. Yet, my mind is baffled by your proposal that we deport foreign students as soon as they finish their degree and that we prevent them from working whilst studying.

Firstly, this move places poorer foreign student at a much greater disadvantage as they will be unable to support their studies through work. Furthermore, you are making it impossible for them to contribute back to society as they are unable to get work and must leave as soon as their course is over. This makes no sense! They graduate, not as unskilled migrants who scrounge off our benefits, but as high-achieving academics that make a positive and powerful contribution to society.

This lack of logic also follows the deportation of Miwa Hirono. Miwa Hirono was a lecturer at the University of Nottingham whose specialised knowledge of China made a great contribution to the university but also to the government as her policy recommendations helped to enhance our understanding of the country. Is your drive to cut immigration so strong that you are willing to deport immigrants who positively contribute to our country?  The fact is that migrants make an overwhelmingly positive impact rather than a negative one. Research has shown that European migrants alone have made a positive contribution of £4 billion between 1995 and 2011, furthermore 11 per cent of all staff and 26 per cent of doctors in the NHS are non-British.

So is immigration an issue?

To clarify, I understand that immigration must be controlled and that it has increased by 565,000 since 2011. An increased population means an increased pressure on housing, the NHS and the infrastructure of the UK. Maintaining a sustainable population is important and sadly this is compromised by our membership in the EU. Despite this, I must re-emphasise the positive contribution immigration has made.

High immigration, though not without its problems, does not justify the draconian measures taken that jeopardise not only the UK’s moral standing, but also its economic prosperity. Your policy is a publicity stunt done to create the illusion that the Conservatives are solving the immigration problem, but in actuality immigration is higher under the Conservatives than it was under Labour. I ask that you reconsider your policy and think about the country before your own party’s welfare.

Yours Sincerely,

Viruben Nandakumar

 

Sources:

‘Out of the Silence’, Freedom from Torture report:

http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/sites/default/files/documents/Sri%20Lanka%20Ongoing%20Torture_Freedom%20from%20Torture_Final%20Nov_07_2011.pdf

‘The two graphs that reveal the UK’s abysmal record on Syrian refugees’, Independent :

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-two-graphs-that-shows-the-uks-abysmal-record-on-syrian-refugees-10333028.html

‘The case of Isa Muazu: A study in Barbarism’, Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/matt-carr/isa-muazu-deportation-theresa-may_b_4369125.html

‘Foreign students will be banned from working in the UK and forced to leave …’, Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/foreign-students-will-be-banned-from-working-in-the-uk-and-forced-to-leave-as-soon-as-they-finish-course-under-theresa-mays-tough-new-visa-rules-10385232.html

‘Miwa Hirono: my Home Office hell’, Times Higher Education:

https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/miwa-hirono-my-home-office-hell/2019275.article

‘What have the immigrants ever done for us?’, the Economist:

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21631076-rather-lot-according-new-piece-research-what-have-immigrants-ever-done-us

‘Figures show extent of NHS reliance on foreign nationals’, the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/26/nhs-foreign-nationals-immigration-health-service