Colombian lawyer Miguel Puerto looks at the mainstream parties’ attitude to Latinos in Britain, undocumented immigrants and in particular the Liberal Democrat ‘amnesty’ proposal.
The electoral campaign in this, our second country, is in full swing and with this comes further deceit, manipulation and taking advantage of our community. It is saddening, sickening, that our community is seen as up for auction to the highest bidder, on offer to the political parties who always combine against the interests of our community, as they have done historically.
These parties – all of them – have passed laws and directives in the House of Commons and European Parliament to hunt down and punish immigrants ‘without papers’, holding back and closing the door on legal immigration and thus denying the existence of political refugees.
Before presenting the Labour, Conservative and Liberal candidates – who deliver their message and ask for support like some religious cult speaking to an audience whose only interest is to go and pray and seek their ‘peace with God’ – at the least it is worth telling the faithful that these candidates are tied to the policies of their parties, who, whether here in London or in Brussels or Strasbourg (homes of the European Parliament) have passed laws openly opposed to the most minimal and necessary rights of immigrant communities like our own.
These parties have approved and imposed the ignominious “Return Directive”, a legal process now fully in place across Europe and designed to help prosecute undocumented immigrants and punish them by putting them in prison for up to 18 months. This, only for the ‘crime’ (in quotation marks, yes, for it is not a crime) of the administrative failing of remaining in this country without documents. Standing against this must be the first rule of defending and protecting the dignity of our community, thus the title of this note – please, stop deceiving our community!
No political party is in favour of a meaningful regularisation in the interests of undocumented immigrants. If you take the trouble to look through the manifestos of these parties, you will find that all are opposed to such a regularisation in favour of those millions of immigrants who continue to hope for an opportunity to legalise their status in this country. The Liberal Democrats have dug up an old proposal already previously advanced by organisations like ‘London Citizens’, and falsely portrayed as an ‘amnesty’. The first thing that must be said on this score is that such a proposal, as they present it, is not an amnesty for immigrants of irregular status, yet the word ‘amnesty’ implies a right all should enjoy, and from which all undocumented migrants in this country should benefit from.
The Liberal Democrats’ proposal says that it would benefit those undocumented immigrants who have lived in this country for more than ten years, ignoring the reality that immigration is a growing phenomenon whereby every day hundreds of immigrants clandestinely reach Britain through all sorts of means.
But what perhaps most fundamentally breaks with the criteria of a real amnesty is the demand that the immigrant should have no criminal record. As the Liberal Democrats must know (for they voted for these laws) after the shocking terrorist attacks on the London Underground a few years ago, holding and using a false passport is categorised as a serious crime. The crushing majority of undocumented immigrants have false passports in order to get by in this country, and as such this majority would not qualify for the Liberal Democrats’ so-called ‘amnesty’. Only a small number of immigrants could apply for the ‘amnesty': those who have never presented a false passport in order to get a job.
Moreover, the reality of immigrant life demands working long hours: thus many have never been to college to study the language, and if they did try they may well be refused on account of not having a legal status here. So even these few undocumented workers would not be able to benefit from the ‘amnesty’ either, because they do not speak the language, which is another filter in the Liberal Democrat proposal.
So in conclusion we would be in the same situation: but sadly with the aggravating factor that, deceived and full of faith, when many of our ‘convinced’ immigrants present their applications for regularisation the response will be immediate deportation. When this happens, I am sure these self-appointed ‘leaders’ will be nowhere to be seen: but today, I repeat, they are deceiving our community, selling them to the highest bidder in search of votes.