This article was similar to many I’ve seen in the Mail : Teenage Vietnamese immigrant is discovered hiding behind car dashboard at Dover
It tells the story of a young 16 year old Vietnamese girl found huddled into the tiny space behind the dashboard of a car, apparently attempting to enter the UK immediately. It’s a harrowing picture that accompanies the article, and clearly demonstrates, just how desperate some people are to come to the UK.
I was sickened by the Comments which accompanied the article – A short selection :
“No Benefits = No illegal immigration.
“If the authorties spent as much time and effort chasing illegal immigrants as they do on motorists , we wouldn`t have an immigration problem.”
“It would be nice to know what happened to these people `attempting` to get into our fair country. Let me have a guess? They`re still here.”
“Until we pull out of the EU, scrap the Human Rights Act and take control over our borders this crisis will not stop.”
“There is no point spending the money for airport xray machines as it really can’t stop the determined crazy muslim terrorist who wants to get his virgins in heaven.”
” 1. Place in detention centre.
2. Deport on next available flight, at her Embassies expense! “
“Zero tolerance. Depot (sic) them all!”
“Too many bleeding hearts in this country.”
“No wonder they want to come here! So would i if i knew i could get money, a house, food, heating and clothing for FREE! However, i have a British passport and UK birth certificate, i’ll just have to work for the above.”
( I’m not going to systematically debunk any of this – see Tabloid Watch articles for regular fisking of this kind of stuff eg. : Nobody benefits from ‘immigrants on benefit’ stories )
Suffice to say that this kind of hatred and vitriol dismays me. Why you may ask ?
Well maybe because I’m a White Anglo-Saxon of vaguely Protestant working class upbringing – My culture and values are supposedly exactly the ones which these bigots and xenophobes are so keen to protect.
And what are those WASP values ?
Well I was brought up to believe that if someone called at our family home, then we didn’t keep them waiting on the doorstep – we invited them into the warm.
If we had visitors, then we didn’t give them the chipped cups and glasses – we gave them the best china – and we made sure that they had something to eat and drink from it as well – if we didn’t have enough – well we just shared what we had.
If friends came round, and it was a mealtime, then they were invited to join us, and if we were similarly given hospitality at someone else’s house we were expected (by our own families) to return the favour.
It’s still how I live my life, despite moving from a council house in the Heavy Woollen district to the leafy home counties, and despite become part of the so called ‘middle classes’.
I find that my children’s friends tend to like coming to our house – because they’re treated with courtesy and respect, and hospitality. Which I guess means we spend a little more on food & drink, and I guess inconveniences us a little. You know what though, I like it – and I can afford it.
As a headteacher I’m not exactly poverty stricken of course, – but guess what – when my Dad was a factory worker, and my Mum was a part-time nursing auxiliary – we could afford it then too. Just a question of priorities.
And if you want to know what core British culture is about, then I’d say this – If my family came across a girl of only 16 years old (a little older than my 13 year old daughter and 16 year old son), wedged into a space in a car, clearly desperate and in distress, what would we do ?
Well we’d make sure she was alright – we’d check that she wasn’t hurt – we’d make sure she could get herself cleaned up with a shower or a bath – we’d sort her out with some clean clothing; and offer her food and drink – and maybe somewhere to stay for a night or two.
Then, and only then, would we start to talk about the problems she faced in the future – and whether it would be a good idea to stay for longer, or whether we’d help her find her way to somewhere more appropriate.
So there you go – no pre-judgement – no fast track – just common decency and humanity.
Those are my values – they’re shared by lots of people – from lots of different cultural backgrounds. If that makes me a ‘bleeding heart’ liberal then I’m fine with that – I care about people, I want to live in a country that does too – not just it’s own people – but all people. Not just people who are like me – but all people.
Just in case any one was wondering.
Just a quick one.
The story about Baroness Scotland employing an illegal immigrant continues to rumble on. Now the Mail claims that the “illegal” in question says that Baroness Scotland never looked at her passport. So who’s the liar ?
First of all (ignoring the possibility that the “illegal” may not be an absolutely reliable witness given that the antics of Baroness Scotland may well be about to get her deported) the issue of whether she looked at the passport is an irrelevance, Baroness Scotland has already pleaded guilty to the offence. She admits she made no record of her checks. So in a legal sense, she didn’t make any – not proper ones, and they are the only ones which count.
However as someone who has employed rather a few people who have had overseas passports it does cross my mind whether she’d have been allowed to look at the passport in the first place.
If you are taking on an employee, it’s generally considered OK to ask for :
- Evidence of a person’s identity
- Evidence of their eligibility to work in the UK
However it’s not considered OK to make extensive investigations as to whether a person is an illegal immigrant or not – that’s not an employers job. It’s considered discriminatory if a potential employee is subjected to checks and inquiries in excess of those that you would make for any other applicant – for instance a white middle class man with a home counties accent.
So in general, if a person can prove who they are – perhaps with a driving licence and a utilities bill to name two commonly accepted methods, has two bona fide references from previous employers, and also has a document showing proof of National Insurance number (and this is a permanent NI number not beginning with the letter ‘T’) then it would be unreasonable to go asking for passports. You could and should assume that the NI number was issued after exhaustive procedures to establish entitlement.
So it would be quite possible to do normal checks without ever seeing a passport. Not without seeing a National Insurance number though – and one does wonder whether the lady in question had one.
As to whether Baroness Scotland knew that or whether she did any of that, I’ve no idea – but she’s admitted her wrongdoing – and that makes the Mail’s campaign irrelevant.
Makes you think though doesn’t it.
Personally I think what she’s done is trivial and fairly unimportant, she’s a politician not a Human Resources expert.
I do however feel that she should be aware of this in her position, and that even in the case of relatively trivial offences, the office of Attorney General needs to be so far above reproach, that the only honourable course of action for her is to hand in her resignation.