Since the expansion of the European Union and the subsequent parallel expansion of the Schengen Zone, it has been a simple matter of crossing the twelve-hundred odd miles of the Empire’s eastern border at some point, evading on the way the underpaid border ‘guards’ of our European ‘partners’ (eminently bribable if you happen to be very unlucky and get caught) and then, if you have a mind, to walk to the English Channel. This, in The Telegraph, is simply one story amongst many of late highlighting the facts.
The idea that someone might in the meantime check your papers is quite laughable.
Once there, it seems, there is little actually to stop you from penetrating to the heart of the United Kingdom. And there, unless you are very stupid or an incorrigible criminal minded to commit a pretty serious offence or you are very very unlucky, you can stay.
The Government and the parliament of the United Kingdom have very little, indeed no say in this system, power over which has effectively been ceded to the European Union by successive governments, but particularly by this one, such that we now have little real constraint on illegal immigration by the determined economic migrant.
In the old days it was different. I think I still have somewhere my old (cherished and blue) passport from the 1960s when I was a teenager, with lots of lovely different stamps dutifully impressed therein at the borders of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and so on. On a good round trip you could easily fill four or five pages in a fortnight.
But suppose you do get to the UK as an illegal. We now have a pretty fair idea that this Government has pretty well abandoned any sort of attempt even to calculate how many such illegals might be here, let alone control them. And we also know that even if you commit a heinous crime for which one of Her Majesty’s Judges reckons the appropriately condign sentence is five years in the slammer, you have to be deeply unlucky actually to get deported. Or rather you have to be a non-EU citizen and deeply unlucky, as EU citizens are pretty well bomb-proof when it comes to deportation from the UK.
This story in the Mail reveals the extent to which this government has cravenly and cynically abandoned any pretence at controlling immigration. Having not only yielded control of our immigration law and policy to the European Union, day to day control, if that word is appropriate, has been handed over to yet another unaccountable quango called the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA), whose principal raison d’être is to enable ministers to say as often as they can get away with it: “Not me, Guv!”.
It appears that if you come here and tell the nice Immigration Officer (it would not surprise me if they are now called consultants) that you are here to do a degree in media studies at Neasden University, they will swiftly nod you through with nary a moment’s hesitation. Once past this stringent test, your worries are over, for as we now know, the BIA will not lift a finger to do anything about you. For a memo from Jonathan Lindley, director of what is laughingly called “enforcement” at BIA reveals that the BIA have no real interest in chucking these people out if they are caught:
The note describes a recent rule change which was meant to crack down on student overstayers, making them automatically liable for refusal if they sought a visa extension.
“A proportion of these refusals have led to removal some of which have been enforced.
“One such case came to Lin Homer’s attention last week, resulting in the removal being cancelled and some critical comments from Lin.
“I am surprised that any of these cases have come sufficiently high within enforcement teams’ priorities to merit such quick removal action.
“Please instruct your enforcement teams not to proceed with enforcing any student refusal cases unless they are deemed, at at least inspector level, to be a priority due to Harm (a reference to the Home Office system of gauging how harmful it is for an illegal immigrant to remain in the country).
“Student case working teams have been instructed not to pass any further student refusal cases linked to this issue to enforcement teams.”
Mr. Lindley’s grammar is none too wonderful either. That’s what egalitarianism, Labour-style, does for you after forty years of debauching the education system. I digress, however.
Basically, you may think, the Brown Government has simply given up on the matter of immigration. There is no policy, there is no real enforcement, there is no check on who gets in and who does not and even if we wanted to do any of this we would have to get the Emperor’s leave to start such a proper system.
Game over as far as immigration control is concerned.
So when this or that minister talks of being ‘tough’ on immigration, it is worth remembering two things: one, he or she is lying and two, he or she is utterly contemptuous of your intelligence.
How different things were, even just a few years ago. I recall sitting at a Café in sight of the Franco-German border in northern Alsace. A ‘flying patrol’ of French Border officials had set up an ad hoc border post that day. They dutifully nodded through every French car without a second glance, When a car with German plates pitched up, however, a veritable posse would descend on it, whereupon loving attention was paid to it. The enthusiasm of the French for examining the very depths of the German suitcases suggested a most particular attentiveness to duty……and cheered me enormously.
Some habits die hard.