06/08/2013 12:36 BST | Updated 04/10/2013 06:12 BST

Immigration - Migrating to a Civil Discourse

A far greater concern is the deliberate profiling of citizens and legal immigrants at our borders and at identity checks for fears that they may be illegal immigrants - treatment which suggests an inhuman alien distinction.

"Nihil humanum a me alienum puto, said the Roman poet Terence: 'Nothing human is alien to me.' The slogan of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service could have been the reverse: To us, no aliens are human." ~ Christopher Hitchens Hitch 22

"I don't see how the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century." ~ Newt Gingrich

"Britain's an island; it's always had a constant ebb and flow of immigration - it makes it a better place." ~ John Lyndon

"Uncontrolled, mass immigration displaces British workers, forces people onto benefits, and suppresses wages for the low-paid." ~ Theresa May, British Home Secretary

"Illegal immigration can never be completely stopped, no matter how high the wall or how many patrol agents you have watching it." ~ Gail Collins

Whichever side of the Atlantic you are on immigration is an issue that in austere times comes onto the political agenda. For some it is a moral issue rewarding those that work hard and play by the rules, or that people are treated as human beings wanting a decent future and not labeled as illegal immigrants. A political issue in swing states/marginals that will decide the polls if you are too soft.

In the UK two things have recently happened to focus on. The twitter hash tagged #racistvan touring the road courtesy of The Home Office - much derided as reported by blogger FutileDemocracy - and how the government department uses their twitter account.

Illegal immigrants vanguard


Looking at the van it seems quite clear - if you are illegally residing in the UK go back to your country of origin or face arrest. A telephone number for advice and help with travel documents is included. The small print that by cooperating no fear of arrest or detention. So the credibility of detection and fear of arrest or detention over the advantages of being an illegal immigrant matters for this to work.

A far greater concern is the deliberate profiling of citizens and legal immigrants at our borders and at identity checks for fears that they may be illegal immigrants - treatment which suggests an inhuman alien distinction. We should not have such sweeping low opinions on citizens or immigrants. Suspicion breeds contempt.

Likewise, to suggest legal immigrants would somehow think they were being targeted by the van billboard is not giving them the credit they deserve. The UK has a points system, sponsorship, exceptional talent provision and particular jobs which allow legal immigration. Perhaps a route to achieving legal status would be a more positive way to promote - especially for those with a family.

Such an amnesty is controversial - but the danger is children, who had no part in breaking the law, become victimised as criminals. Ending the detention of such children worldwide is a campaign I urge you to support The right to family life is a protection in the European Convention of Human Rights.

Home Office Twitter Account


Owen Jones, a left wing young socialist polemicist, invited us all not to feel pride being British reading the Home Office twitter account. How I feel about my government is separate from the loyalty and love of my country. Like the van above the tweets are a sensationalist simple message detaining illegal immigrant suspects.

It is important to know that the law is being enforced, and to have that information and transparency. Equally we should be concerned it is reported impartially and not prejudicially. On that score note the hashtag #immigrationoffenders picked up by Jack of Kent blogger.


Not all the tweets by the account included the word "suspected." So much for innocent till proven guilty. Even with the word, the way twitter has been used might be prejudicial to a fair trial.

Top 3 Myths On Immigration Debunked Video


One Planet One Human Race

Dignity and cultural diversity of open borders are stronger positives than the economic arguments. For the economy these benefits accrue with smart policies that reflect domestic demand for foreign labour rather than government quotas and restrictions on numbers.

A legal means for immigration, and a path to citizenship are things to have for a vibrant society, strong economy and also the strengthening of a civil nation. There are concerns a welfare state cannot afford, especially in these fiscal belt tightening times, such open borders - but wrong headed government restrictions could mean the solution is worse than the problem. Let alone unfair.

Citizens need to know what law enforcement is doing, making them accountable. This does not excuse gaudy displays or sensationalist reporting. But if you want the far right to be taken on it is important to show immigration law is being enforced.

The debate needs to be measured with a view to the human rather than an abstracted unit of labour. We may be waiting for such a discourse to be maintained in the political arena but we can make use of it in every day conversation.

It may even catch on.