NATECLA Statement about Immigration Policy - May 2020
While ministers regularly praise our brilliant NHS and weekly clap their support for essential workers, the new immigration points-based system, aimed at excluding from the UK many of these same workers, is becoming a reality. The immigration bill has now passed the second reading in Parliament and needs to be challenged.
On the same day as members of the government joined the national expression of gratitude to these workers, the Home Office released its information for employers on how immigration will work from Jan 2021 onwards. It declares: “There will not be an immigration route specifically for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route.” Unfortunately, there has been no “long and hard thinking”, as Dominic Raab suggested, about “who the key workers are in our lives”. Instead, the same pre-Covid 19 strictures apply. These key workers are rightly being lauded for their bravery and dedication, risking their lives to bring UK citizens their food and transport, looking after the elderly in care homes with inadequate PPE, cleaning our hospitals and nursing the sick. However, the immigration bill suggests that they are only welcomed today because they are needed in a crisis, but not to be here once the pandemic is over. NATECLA continues to deplore this treatment of migrants, which treats them only as an economic resource, and not also as people who create and enrich our communities.
All those who work within ESOL have a duty to oppose this immigration strategy. The current crisis shows how people who are negatively labelled ‘immigrants’ are integral members of the UK workforce: a fifth of all agricultural workers, half of our food production workers, 40% of our logistics and wholesale employees, nearly 20% of our care-workers, triple that in London, and nearly a quarter of all hospital staff. Indeed, the ‘brilliant NHS’ with its 200 languages spoken by 150,000 of its doctors, nurses and ancillary staff is an exemplar of ‘global Britain’ at its best, international, plural and caring. We will continue to need them long after the pandemic is over.
The same collaborative and caring ethos we see every day in our ESOL classes is ensuring the UK keeps functioning. Once this pandemic subsides, the pressure to forget this will be immense. The hardships which will follow, the economic suffering which is already happening, is likely to create a situation where immigrants are again the scapegoats. The ESOL community must stand against this. The proposed immigration policy must be reviewed and amended to ensure that we value not just the essential contributions they bring to our country but also the social contributions to our communities. All those concerned about the hostile environment that this policy will continue to perpetuate are urged to write to their MP urgently to ask for a full review of the impact of the new policy on our society.
- The current government statement is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement
- NATECLA’s previous responses to the immigration policy is here: https://www.natecla.org.uk/news/929/NATECLAs-statement-on-the-proposed-immigration-policy
- Instructions about how to write to your MP is here: https://www.writetothem.com/