I’ve always had an issue with the UK’s immigration policy. Scola Dondo came to the UK after her parents immigrated from Zimbabwe and in the above video she laments the cruelty of recent policy that has made a university education impossible for her. Circumstances of birth is often a restriction in the classist, elitist, racist and sexist place I like to call the United Kingdom, god bless the fucking queen.
The first instance of modern statutes aimed to restrict immigration was against Jewish people fleeing from Russian persecution. This racialised context for immigration policy continues to this day. In 1948 the British Nationality Act allowed 800 million subjects of the British Empire to live and work in the UK without needing a visa.This was a response to a need to fill gaps in the labour market for both skilled and unskilled jobs. Commonwealth immigration was primarily made up of economic migrants and rose from 3,000 per year in 1953 to 136,400 in 1961. The Cabinet in 1950 established a committee that would look into “ways which might be adopted to check the immigration into this country of coloured people from British colonial territories”. The Committee recommended not to introduce restrictions but nonetheless in 1962 the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed. The public sentiment being that these “coloured” people should return to their own countries.
Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech would illustrate the politician’s campaigns for tighter controls on immigration, made one month after the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1968, the first act that required migrants to have a connection to the UK either by birth or ancestry to a UK national. Each decade their have been increasing numbers of Acts and ammendments to solve this immigrant problem – something more to do with racism and fear than economic reasons.
In 1981, the British Nationality Act distinguishes between a British citizen and a British Overseas Territories citizen. It also specified a difference between nationality by descent and nationality other than descent. The former cannot pass on British nationality to a child born outside the UK or its overseas territories. Other forms of nationality are “British subjects” which was used until 1949 to refer to anyone with a close connection to the UK. All citizens of the Commonwealth were British subjects until January 1983. Being a British subject constituted that you were without citizenship or you were a woman who registered as such on the basis of your marriage to a British subject. Nationality is ludicrously complex as expected from the bureaucratic state that governs the British Isles.
In 2013 the fee for naturalisation was £874 for single applications. You have to have been living in the UK for 5 years legally, have an indefinite leave to remain or “equivalent” for at least 12 months, and the intention to remain in the UK for work or work for the Government or a British corporation; as well as proving that you have “good character” and knowledge of language and life. This is all at the discretion of the Home Secretary who is one of my least favourite people, Theresa May, I hope her hair catches on fire.
Immigrants with the indefinite leave to remain are not entitled to student loans and are denied many other privileges which a lot of people will try to argue they don’t deserve although they are required to pay taxes. Maybe I’m a dumb lefty liberal rantface hoar but I don’t care, after all: Nationality is an invention. When people come to your country, hoping for a better life, and you respond with racism and a lack of humanity- debasing them as criminals and undeserving- we only prove ourselves to be unsympathetic robots regurgitating bullshit the media uses to distract us from the real problems that degrade our society. Immigration has and always will continue. But it’s a rhetorical tool for politicians to make people look the other way and blame people who actually want to be in shitty rainy England rather than bankers or paedophiles in the highest echelons of government.
There is so much more that can be added. A lot I probably didn’t adequately address. I apologise, but this was meant to vent my frustration with the hypocrisy and bullshit that makes up nationality and immigration laws in much of the Western world. I don’t care if people come to the UK wanting to use our public services, I celebrate it, I believe that everyone should be entitled to free healthcare, education and the ability to move without restrictions. The right to affordable housing and travel, and the right to be treated as a human being, not a statistic. But I’m just a rantface-left-liberal-hoar.
[Gov.uk and Wikipedia were used all over this article; both are unreliable but if critically analysed can be fruitful]