Saturday, May 20, 2006

Moving targets are harder to hit

Desperate to divert attention from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate after officials admitted they had no idea how many illegals were in the country, the Home Office has said figures will be released next week showing that Tony Blair's deportation targets have finally been hit.

The PM has pledged to deport more failed asylum seekers per month than the number making new claims.

However, there is evidence of a pogrom against "soft targets", with a surge in the number of "visible" foreigners with established links with this country being rounded up to boost the figures.

These are people who have complied with requirements to report, and who are working.

Many have indeed been picked up at their places of work and detained prior to deportation, without even being allowed to return to their homes to collect belongings.

Meanwhile the 1000 or so illegals, many of them career criminals, who should have been deported on release from prison but were instead given travel warrants and sent on their way, have melted away.

Maeve Sherlock, Refugee Council chief executive, said: "The process of who gets removed and who doesn't can be very arbitrary..."

No. I'm afraid I disagree: it's not arbitrary at all; removals priorities are set: you "remove those who have claimed asylum and have failed".

And if the easiest ones to round up are those who are "visible", having played by the rules, openly working and reporting regularly, then why waste time and resources chasing the hard cases?

Such, it would seem, is the current attitude of John Reid and his officials; if they're on the list out they go.

They came for Alejandrina Guard in the early hours.

She and her husband, Mark, a British national, were asleep.

Without even being allowed to dress she was bundled into the back of a van and driven away.

A week later she was on a flight back to Mexico.

She had lived in this country, married to Mark, working and paying taxes, for five years.

Initially here on a tourist visa, after their wedding they had applied for leave for Alejandrina to remain, but they heard nothing until the night they came and took her away.

Adnan Kos fled Turkey after his father was murdered because he took part in human rights marches.

He claimed asylum on arriving in Britain and had lived here for seven years, holding down a full time job.

He and his partner, Viv Keenan, mother of his 17 month old son, were planning to be married and were looking for a larger flat; the future looked bright.

But it all came crashing down in February when immigration officers payed him an early morning call.

He too was deported a week later.

Why do the authorities pick on people like these, people who have made lives here, who have worked, lived by our rules, paid taxes?

The answers, of course are blood simple: because it's politically expedient and because they can;
because the Home Office can't be bothered to track down the "harder cases", even if some of them are murderers or rapists.

Perhaps Adnan Kos and Alejandrina Guard should have played it a little closer to their chests; maybe they should have lied about their names and other personal details; perhaps they should have gone underground.

Perhaps more people like them will do so in the future.

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