UK Immigration Scandal Offers Tories a Shot at Redemption – Bloomberg

Good overview with some polling data regarding UK attitudes towards immigration:

The resignation of U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday is bad news for the Conservative government on several fronts. A close ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May who had her boss’s back on a number of occasions, Rudd was seen as a rising star in the Conservative Party, a potential prime minister herself and the most articulate opponent of Brexitin the cabinet.

The real problem her resignation raises, though, isn’t the damage to May’s already weakened government or the shifting cabinet balance toward more euroskeptic members. It is yet more confirmation that the Conservative Party’s immigration policy is a mess. It embraces a “target culture” that not only hurts Britain’s economic interests but damages its global reputation.

For most of the last decade Conservative immigration policy has been populist and ineffective. Officially and unofficially, the name of the game was keepy-outy. Rudd’s attempts to uphold the policies of her predecessors descended into the grotesque.

The first sign of serious trouble concerned a generation of immigrants who were invited between 1948 and 1971 to help rebuild Britain after World War II during a time of labor shortage. Members of the so-called Windrush generation (named for one ship on which many arrived) came from Caribbean countries and were told they could stay indefinitely. But the Home Office didn’t keep records of those granted a right to stay — by some estimates, about 500,000 people. And in 2010 the Windrush landing cards, proving arrival for many, were destroyed as part of a cull of old paperwork.

This shoddy management became a more serious problem when landmark changes to immigration law — overseen by May herself when she was home secretary — made the lives of the Windrush generation untenable.

Immigrants, even those who had been there decades, faced new requirements for detailed documentation in order to access employment or benefits and health care. May’s “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants was meant to encourage self-deportations. (Remember that idea, Americans?)

It didn’t seem to result in many self-deportations, but it did lead to widespread injustices. Migrants faced demands that they prove their immigration status; landlords and employers risked large fines for renting to or employing illegal immigrants. A Law Society report found “clear evidence of serious flaws in the way visa and asylum applications are being dealt with.”

Some Windrush immigrants faced inhumane treatment by the country that had been their home for decades. They were denied re-entry into the U.K., health care and other rights. A media and public opinion outcry in recent weeks forced by both May and Rudd to apologize and promise justice and compensation.

They looked likely to ride out the Windrush storm until it emerged that the Home Office had set targets for illegal deportations. Rudd denied the existence of targets to a parliamentary committee, before leaked Home Office documents confirmed them. Five public apologies in a week were too many. Either she wasn’t in command (something many suspected) or she simply misled Parliament.

In immigration control, when officials are ordered to meet deportation targets, ugly things happen. Asylum case workers have described a system that is arbitrary and rushed, in which workers are trained to find ways to say no.

British Conservatives may be more socially minded than their American counterparts — nobody questions universal health care here, for example — but they ostensibly stand for innovation, entrepreneurship, individual freedom and opportunity. And yet for years, dating back to David Cameron’s government in 2010, this party has made it harder — sometimes with just the sheer expense and bureaucratic hassle — for foreign workers, students and family members to settle in the U.K. with increasingly stringent immigration policy and populist rhetoric. In the race for global talent, Britain has slowed its pace to a languid walk.

It was left to Labour’s Diane Abbott to make the case for a more reasonable migration policy: “In trade negotiations our priorities favor growth, jobs and prosperity. We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets.”

Meanwhile, the government’s target to reduce net immigration to the “tens of thousands” is so unrealistic that very few Britons are under any illusion that it will be met. Net immigration has declined — but the biggest declineshave come from European Union citizens, without whom the health service and other parts of the economy couldn’t function. Migration from non-EU countries has continued to rise.

Sadly the government seems to be responding to a crude reading of public sentiment. Ask Britons if they want to see less immigration, and most will say yes — though notably views have softened somewhat since the Brexit referendum and the trend is toward greater acceptance.

But ask them about particular classes of immigrants — students, nurses, the Windrush generation — and their replies are far more magnanimous. They want border control and fewer immigrants, but also a system that is fair and humane and welcomes people who will contribute.

By many accounts Rudd, along with some other leading Conservatives, had been uncomfortable with the immigration targets; and yet she placed loyalty to her boss and the party first. Other Conservatives have challenged May over aspects of the Conservative immigration policy from the targets to the indefinite detention of immigrants that has led to appalling conditions.

The good news is that it’s never too late: The Conservatives now have an opportunity to clean up the mess. The new home secretary, Sajid Javid, is the son of a Pakistani immigrant and a Muslim; his father arrived in Britain with 1 pound in his pocket in the 1960s, according to Javid.

In his first remarks Monday, he promised to look into injustices at the Home Office and promised a full review of the policies that led to Rudd’s embarrassment. That review shouldn’t end with the Windrush scandal. An honest review will mean changing the policies that May and her party have been so closely associated with for years. That will not be easy, but the country will be better off if neither of them flinch. It just might save the Conservative Party from the embarrassment of more such scandals.

via Immigration Scandal Offers Tories a Shot at Redemption – Bloomberg

British interior minister Rudd resigns after immigration scandal | Reuters

Taking one for the team. This happened when PM May was Home Secretary:

Britain’s interior minister resigned on Sunday after Prime Minister Theresa May’s government faced an outpouring of indignation over its treatment of some long-term Caribbean residents who were wrongly labeled illegal immigrants.

The loss of one of May’s closest allies is a blow as she navigates the final year of negotiations ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union in March 2019. It also deprives the cabinet of one of its most outspoken pro-European members.

In a resignation letter to May, Amber Rudd said she had inadvertently misled a parliamentary committee last Wednesday by denying the government had targets for the deportation of illegal migrants. May accepted her resignation.

For two weeks, British ministers have been struggling to explain why some descendants of the so-called “Windrush generation”, invited to Britain to plug labor shortfalls between 1948 and 1971, had been denied basic rights.

The Windrush scandal overshadowed the Commonwealth summit in London and has raised questions about May’s six-year stint as interior minister before she became prime minister in the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum.

“The Windrush scandal has rightly shone a light on an important issue for our country,” Rudd said in a resignation letter to May.

Rudd, who was appointed Home Secretary in 2016, said voters wanted those who had the right to reside in Britain to be treated fairly and humanely but also that illegal immigrants be removed.

May to blame?

The opposition Labour Party, which had repeatedly called on Rudd to resign, said May was responsible and should explain her own role in the government’s immigration policies.

“The architect of this crisis, Theresa May, must now step forward to give an immediate, full and honest account of how this inexcusable situation happened on her watch,” said Diane Abbott, Labour’s spokeswoman on interior affairs.

Abbott called on May to give a statement to the House of Commons explaining whether she knew that Rudd was misleading parliament about the deportation targets.

Facing questions over the Windrush scandal, Rudd, 54, told lawmakers on Wednesday that Britain did not have targets for the removal of immigrants, but was forced to clarify her words after leaked documents showed some targets did exist.

The Guardian newspaper on Sunday reported a letter from Rudd to May last year in which she stated an “ambitious but deliverable” aim for an increase in the enforced deportation of immigrants.

After repeated challenges to her testimony on the deportation of immigrants, Rudd telephoned May on Sunday and offered her resignation.

“I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants,” Rudd told May.

With her Conservative Party split over Brexit, May will have to be careful to preserve the uneasy balance in the cabinet after the loss of such a senior pro-EU minister.

Possible contenders who could replace Rudd include Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, Northern Irish Secretary Karen Bradley and former Northern Irish Secretary James Brokenshire.

Windrush crisis

The government has apologized for the fiasco, promised citizenship and compensation to those affected, including to people who have lost their jobs, been threatened with deportation and denied benefits because of the errors.

But the controversy over policies which May is closely associated with has raised awkward questions about how the pursuit of lower immigration after Brexit sits alongside the desire to be an outward-looking global economy.

The immigrants are named after the Empire Windrush, one of the first ships to bring Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1948, when Commonwealth citizens were invited to fill labor shortages and help rebuild the economy after World War Two.

Almost half a million people left their homes in the West Indies to live in Britain between 1948 and 1970, according to Britain’s National Archives.

A week before local elections, May apologized to the black community on Thursday in a letter to The Voice, Britain’s national Afro-Caribbean newspaper.

“We have let you down and I am deeply sorry,” she said. “But apologies alone are not good enough. We must urgently right this historic wrong.”

The crisis has focused attention on May, who as interior minister set out to create a “really hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, imposing tough new requirements in 2012 for people to prove their legal status.

Rudd’s resignation comes four months after another close ally and her then most senior minister, Damian Green, was forced out of his job for lying about whether he knew pornography had been found on computers in his parliamentary office.

Anna Soubry, a Conservative lawmaker, predicted Rudd may one day return to a senior job in government.

“She is a woman of great courage and immense ability,” Soubry said. “If there is any justice she will soon return to the highest of office.”

via British interior minister Rudd resigns after immigration scandal | Reuters