In the wake of the August riots, David Starkey declared that ‘whites have become black’ and intimated that the mixing of cultures would lead to conflagrations greater than those witnessed in Tottenham and Clapham. Melanie Phillips, writing for the Daily Mail, asserted that multiculturalism had led to the disenchantment of white British youths, whose culture ‘was deliberately shattered’ by the incursion of a foreign element. These sentiments closely mirrored those of David Cameron, who in February suggested that state multiculturalism has failed.
This fear of the ‘other’ has led the British Government down a path of ever restrictive immigration control as it seeks to stamp out foreign influences. Theresa May stated last year that migrants marrying UK citizens should be expected to learn English. Last June, the Home Office announced that it would seek to reduce net migration into the country by limiting the amount of foreign student visas issued.
David Cameron is pushing to amend the European Convention on Human Rights and he is hoping to redefine ‘the family’ in an effort to limit the number of ‘bogus’ asylum claims. His lukewarm attitude toward human rights was made abundantly clear during the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month when he stated that the ‘right to family life is not inalienable’. Further, Cameron declared: “We need to make sure that [the British Government is] not constrained from removing foreign nationals who, in all sanity, should have no right to be here.” These sentiments have laid the foundation upon which immigration legislation is decided in this country; the enforcement of these policies are ever evolving.
Like so many other public services, Britain has outsourced the policing of migrants to the highest bidders. A large number of asylum seekers are kept in detention centres (prison-like facilities with all the associated accoutrements including barbed wire fences) awaiting appeal decisions or deportation. Some asylum seekers have been in ‘short-term’ detention for years at substantial costs. A recent New York Times article reports that, private contractors operate seven of eleven UK detention centres. Serco, famous for the controversial conditions in which it houses asylum seekers in Australia, runs two immigrant removal centres in Britain. Serco’s profits continue to rise as countries shell out large sums of money to manage their undesirables. GEO, another company, has reported a £6.5 million increase in revenue during the quarter as it expands its detention facilities in Britain.
Another rival company, G4S, currently holds £700 million in British contracts, though the company came under fire recently when some of its employees were suspected of asphyxiating an Angolan man during a flight. G4S was also required to pay a $500,000 settlement when its drivers allowed passengers in the back of a van become severely dehydrated during a journey in sweltering heat. This event, and others like it, seem to leave the company’s representatives unfazed. Acknowledging the amount to be made in government contracts, often in the tens of millions, the chief executive of G4S declared: “In time, we will become winners … because there’s a lot of outsourcing opportunities and not many competitors.”
Attitudes toward immigrants rarely change, and it seems unlikely that the collective British mindset will come to the sudden realisation that immigrants help bolster our ailing economy and take less from government services than they pay in taxes. However, it might be worth reflecting on the humanitarian cost of sweeping the rubbish under the rug while wiping our hands clean as someone else carries out the dirty work.