Comments on Home Office Green Paper Paths to Citizenship May 2008 | Immigration | Migrant Worker

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 8
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report
Category:

Others

Published:

Views: 24 | Pages: 8

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Related documents
Description
In summary, while welcoming the intention to simplify and clarify the immigration system, Oxfam is concerned that the proposals create a more complex, less transparent and less welcoming system for migrants. We would like to see greater recognition of the value of migration in the struggle to reduce poverty and inequality. We suggest the Government review the language and proposals of the Green Paper in the light of their potential to harden public attitudes towards migrants. The new proposals for probationary citizenship, and measures to ensure would-be citizens meet criteria for “active” citizenship, would make them more vulnerable to discrimination and potential exploitation. Oxfam is reassured by the re-stated commitment to those in need of protection, but would like to see forced migrants excluded from the proposal completely. Finally, Oxfam fears that an additionally punitive regime would lead to many migrants being afraid to ask for legitimate entitlements, and opposes any restriction in benefits which would result in people resident in the UK being denied basic rights to food, water, shelter, and protection, whatever their immigration status and nationality.
Transcript
    Comments on Home Office Green Paper “Paths to Citizenship” May 2008  About Oxfam Oxfam is a British international development agency working in nine regions around the world, and in the UK. Oxfam’s purpose is to overcome poverty and inequality all over the world including in the UK. We develop projects with people living in poverty that improve their lives and show others how things can change. We raise public awareness of poverty to create pressure for change. And we work with policymakers to tackle the causes of poverty. Oxfam’s programme includes work with partners on the ability of people experiencing poverty to have a decent standard of living and make a sustainable livelihood, to live a life free from discrimination and have their rights to gender and race equality respected, and the right of refugees be free from destitution and live in dignity. Our programme includes support for the rights of migrant workers, media monitoring and encouragement of good practice in the reporting of refugee and asylum issues, a programme on attitudes and beliefs of the British public, and work with partners to tackle gender and race discrimination both for resident black and minority ethnic communities and for new arrivals to the UK. For further details about Oxfam’s work in the UK, see www.oxfam.org.uk/uk. Our response to the Green Paper is in two parts: a response to the consultation questionnaire (sent separately) and more detailed comments below on the Paper and its implications based on our work in England, Scotland and Wales. In summary, while welcoming the intention to simplify and clarify the immigration system, Oxfam is concerned that the proposals create a more complex, less transparent and less welcoming system for migrants. We would like to see greater recognition of the value of migration in the struggle to reduce poverty and inequality. We suggest the Government review the language and proposals of the Green Paper in the light of their potential to harden public attitudes towards migrants. The new proposals for probationary citizenship, and measures to ensure would-be citizens meet criteria for “active” citizenship, would make them more vulnerable to discrimination and potential exploitation. Oxfam is reassured by the re-stated commitment to those in need of protection, but would like to see forced migrants excluded from the proposal completely. Finally, Oxfam fears that an additionally punitive regime would lead to many migrants being afraid to ask for legitimate entitlements, and opposes any restriction in benefits which would result in people resident in the UK being denied basic rights to food, water, shelter, and protection, whatever their immigration status and nationality. Key recommendations: Oxfam urges the Government to be more explicit about the value of migrants to the economy, and to reconsider its proposals, which make it more difficult and expensive for migrants to consider citizenship. We suggest the language of the Green Paper be reviewed, in the light of the risks of discrimination through its reinforcement of negative public attitudes and beliefs towards migrants. 1  Oxfam urges the Government to abandon the concept and terminology of “probationary” citizenship, and instead use the concept of “transition”, putting in place active measures to support participation and integration rather than make them a condition of citizenship. Oxfam urges the Government to retain and not lengthen the existing time limits in which migrants are considered for residence. We recommend the Government consider making financial resources available for a strong and supportive programme for would-be migrants, in the interests of community cohesion. Oxfam urges the Government to reconsider both the concept of “active citizenship” as outlined, and the measures proposed, as discriminatory against migrants in poverty and with family responsibilities. Oxfam recommends the Government promote measures whereby British citizens and new migrants are supported to work together in the community – formally and informally. Oxfam recommends that the Government clarify what its commitment to refugees as prospective citizens will mean in practice. Ideally, Oxfam would like to see forced migrants excluded from these proposals completely. We urge the Government to abandon its proposals to charge migrants fees for their applications and find alternative ways to predict migration-driven demand on public services, through more forward planning. We urge the Government to review its proposals in the light of its human rights obligations, to ensure the safety and security of all those living in poverty, whether permanent citizens or not. Oxfam urges the Government to use the Green Paper consultation as an opportunity to work with organisations supporting migrants, and with migrant workers themselves, to ensure it lives up to the high standards of tolerance and fairness of Britain to which it refers. Introduction Migration represents an opportunity to reduce poverty and inequality, including gender and race inequality, both for migrants and for Britain. Yet certain policies and practices relating to migration and migrants can create or exacerbate poverty and inequality, or lessen the potential benefits of migration – for migrants and for the communities that send them or host them. For Oxfam, the eradication of poverty and inequality should be fundamental criteria for judging immigration policy.    As detailed in our comments below, we are concerned that proposals in the Green Paper ‘Pathways to Citizenship’ would worsen the poverty and suffering of many current and future migrants, and could reduce the benefits of immigration to certain sectors and populations of the UK. We welcome the overall intention of creating a simpler and more transparent system for welcoming migrants to the UK. We also welcome the recognition that the current system has faults and the genuine desire to improve it. However, we fear that in practice the Green Paper creates a more complex, less transparent, and less welcoming system for migrants. We also have concerns about the implications of the proposals, which we fear would worsen the vulnerability to poverty and suffering of many current and future migrants. Social and economic benefits of migration – to the UK and to countries of srcin We welcome the Green Paper’s account of the benefits of migration (paragraphs 25 - 30). These are both economic and social, filling skills shortages and meeting labour market demands, making 2  Britain more prosperous and productive by bringing skills and experience complementary to the native population, and socially, enriching the diverse cultures of communities. The Paper draws attention to the fact that the average migrant pays 10 per cent more in tax than they receive in services, and collectively migrants add £6bn to the economy and provide labour market flexibility. Oxfam works in countries which both send and receive migrants and so has a unique standpoint from which to comment on both the benefits and the problems created by migration. On the one hand, many of the developing countries where Oxfam works experience a “brain drain” of skilled workers to richer countries, which benefits the UK but creates issues for countries of srcin. This group is particularly those targeted by the new points-based system. In addition to bringing significant benefits to the UK especially in key sectors such as health and construction, migrants also remit large sums back to support and enrich their home countries. It is now well known that remittances make a bigger contribution to the GDP of countries of srcin, than official aid disbursed by governments. 1  Therefore Britain benefits from migration even more than the Green Paper acknowledges. In addition, certain sectors and populations in the UK receive considerable benefits from migration. Recent reports have documented the dependence of tourism and agriculture on migrant labour. Moreover, people dependent on carers   receive significant benefits from ‘unskilled’ as well as ‘skilled’ migrant workers. Migrants fill many jobs caring for the elderly, infirm and the very young – arguably, migrants are reducing the poverty and suffering of dependent populations in the UK, since without migrant labour the level of services would be lower. Furthermore, migrants filling the gap in the labour force for caring services - both in private homes and public institutions – allows other (British) adults to spend more time in paid work. As the public provision of a high level of health, education and caring services is a significant factor in reducing gender inequality in society and the economy, the migrant labour force is critical to gender equality strategies. It is ironic, therefore, that the Government’s proposals on immigration policy run the risk of making these same migrant workers – often women – from black and minority ethnic groups, more vulnerable, poor and without access to public services. We would like to see greater recognition, without caveats, of the contribution of migrants to Britain.   Views of the public: negative attitudes and beliefs about migrants We are seriously concerned that the tone of the Green Paper is not likely to contribute to a full appreciation of the migrant contribution to the economy and the life of the nation. The Government’s immigration policy is not wholly responsible for determining the potential benefits or the problems associated with migration. Clearly, many factors influence whether migration works to reduce poverty or is fraught with conflict, violence, discrimination and exploitation. Migrants experience is shaped by the policies of countries of srcin and international economic development, by private sector companies’ policies and practices, by initiatives of migrant organisations as well as public attitudes and beliefs. Yet we believe that the UK government’s positions , language and policy on immigration play a critical role in framing the debate.  We would like to see the Government making proposals that unequivocally value the contribution of migrants to the UK economy and society, and highlight the opportunity of migration in the struggle to reduce poverty and inequality. Alternatively, official policy runs the risk of reinforcing historical notions about migrants and unintentionally legitimising exploitative practices of employers and negative or racist public beliefs. Many of the recommendations appear to be based on the results of a public consultation which concluded that migrants should “speak the common language, make an economic contribution, and obey the law”. Yet there is no recognition in the Green Paper that these are precisely the intentions of the majority of migrants to the UK. Whilst we welcome the wide-ranging consultation to find out what the public thinks about reform of the immigration system, we are concerned that neither the views of migrants themselves or of migrants’ organisations appear to have been 1  World Bank website: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20648762~menuPK:34480~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html 3  sought, and this lack is likely to contribute significantly to the problems and barriers experienced by poor migrants. Our work and others’ research on public attitudes towards migrants and refugees leads us to a concern that the views of the British public are often based on negative assumptions drawn from inaccurate media reporting, and punitive public policy reflecting media assertions 23  which portray migrants as spongers who come to Britain to claim public benefits to which they are not entitled. In 2006, Oxfam commissioned the Cardiff University School of Journalism to consider broadcast news coverage of asylum. This report identified that whilst, on the face of it, the British media are moving towards a more positive representation of asylum seekers and refugees, a more detailed analysis reveals a very different emphasis. They suggest that the narrowness of the news agenda combined with more than one hundred years of policy making which considers non-white immigration and asylum as a problem results in the concept of asylum itself being seen as a negative phenomenon; “Even if the words remain unspoken or censored, asylum now means ‘ illegal immigrant’, ‘bogus’, ‘scrounger’, ‘criminal’, ‘terrorist’ . It only has to be mentioned for the negative mythology to be re-activated. 4  Our partners report racism experienced by a wide range of groups perceived to be “foreign”, including workers outside the mainstream employment system (home workers and Roma people), people from black and minority ethnic communities (who are full British citizens) and migrant workers lacking access to information and experiencing exploitative treatment. We ask the government to review the language of the Green Paper in the light of these risks.  The tone of the paper is based on several assumptions about migrants that our experience refutes  – that they are unwilling to learn English and integrate in their local communities, that they are economic “takers” rather than “givers”, and that they are more likely to be involved in crime than native British citizens. Oxfam currently works directly with migrant worker leaders in Manchester: members of this group report that migrants are eager to learn English, and if they do not do so it is because they work such long hours that they cannot, or because English classes are over-subscribed and therefore unavailable, or beyond their financial means. Migrant workers in Manchester contacted by the Oxfam Migrant Worker Project expressed their concern that the unsocial hours they worked prevented them from attending classes regularly. Our experience of working directly with poor migrant workers is that they are no more or less hard working and willing to pay their taxes and therefore make an economic contribution as any British citizen. Finally, there is no evidence that migrant workers are more likely to be involved in criminal activity than the rest of the population, a conclusion supported by the recent report by the Association of Chief Police Officers (insert footnote). Rather, migrants are keen to avoid trouble or contact with the police because of the potential risks to their immigration status, to their own and their families’ livelihoods and their ability to send remittances of badly-needed cash to their families in their country of srcin. We believe that negative stereotypes about migrants are likely to be reinforced by the overall tone and assumptions of the Paper, which could therefore contribute to a hardening of public attitudes and further undermine community cohesion. Oxfam’s work on creating positive images of refugees and migrants has monitored the extent and damage of hostile reporting and attempted to overcome it. Our work demonstrates the importance of understanding the barriers and difficulties faced by new migrants; of sympathetic and better-informed media reporting and the value of training for media practitioners in providing unbiased coverage of the issues; and promoting a community atmosphere in which community cohesion is likely to be successful. We would like to see the Government making proposals for positive valuing of the contribution of migrants and refugees alongside its proposals in the Green Paper. 22  Communicating asylum, Naomi Newman and Miranda Lewis, ippr, May 2007 3  Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the treatment of asylum seekers 4  Broadcast News Coverage of Asylum April to October 2006 “Caught Between Human Rights and Public Safety”, Bernhard Gross, Kerry Moore & Terry Threadgold 2006. Cardiff School Of Journalism 4
Recommended
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks