Perils of immigration policy

Perils of immigration policy
After weeks of damaging revelations regarding UK’s handling of illegal immigration, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has resigned. Amber Augusta Rudd is a British..

The Home Office (HO) is a ministerial department responsible for immigration, security and law and order. The Office for National Statistics puts the estimated net migration to the UK for the year ending June 2016 at 650,000. Whilst immigration from the EU was highest on record, immigration from non-EU countries was largely similar to the previous years. This is, however, is related to illegal immigrants in the region. It is hard to determine the number of illegal immigrants in the region. In 2007, the London School of Economics produced a report estimating the number of ‘irregular’ migrants at 533,000.

Analysis

Amber Rudd previously served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change from 2015 to 2016 after being the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State in the same department from 2014. She was appointed Home Secretary in Theresa May's ministry on 13 July 2016. She is considered a close confidant of the British Prime Minister.

Earlier news had emerged that many Caribbean-born UK immigrants - known as the Windrush generation - had been harassed, threatened with deportation, and made destitute. This was despite the fact they were legally residents in the country.

Later, it was revealed that UK’s Home Office had targets for immigration removals. Rudd, at the time, denied any knowledge of such policies. However, the Guardian, subsequently also published a letter she had written to Prime Minister May promising to increase removals by 10%. She wrote: “Illegal and would-be illegal migrants and the public more widely, need to know that our immigration system has ‘teeth’, and that if people do not comply on their own we will enforce their return, including through arresting and detaining them. That is why I will be refocusing immigration enforcement’s work to concentrate on enforced removals. In particular I will be reallocating £10m (including from low-level crime and intelligence) with the aim of increasing the number of enforced removals by more than 10% over the next few years: something I believe is ambitious, but deliverable.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said, “The Tories' shameful attempts to cover up their mess must end. Clearly there were targets, and Amber Rudd was aware of them. Theresa May has sent minister after minister out to protect her cruel legacy, misleading Parliament and the public in the process. With each new revelation, we get more of an insight into the Tories' heartless Home Office policies which have led to the Windrush scandal. This chaos has gone on for far too long. It's time for Rudd to go and for the government to rethink its whole approach."

On Thursday, Rudd had told MPs: "I have never agreed that there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people." On April 30th, Rudd formally announced her resignation in the wake of the scandal. “The Prime Minister [Theresa May] has tonight accepted the resignation of the Home Secretary,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. May has already lost four ministers since the election and there have been reports of her cabinet being in turmoil.

The scandal in UK is similar to the refugee crisis in India. Around 4.8 million people are at risk of being deported from the state of Assam in India. The government has asked applicants to provide documentation proving that their families have been in India prior to 1971. Some have stated that they are at risk of being deported despite having lived in India legally - solely due to problems with documentation.

There has been rising anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiments across the world. Many world leaders such as US President Donald Trump were elected on the promise on being tough on immigration.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Amber Rudd’s resignation is also a commentary on the perils that governments face while enacting immigration laws. Even as governments promise to become tougher with illegal immigrants, they have toe a difficult line where they must ensure no mistakes are made. How can immigration policies be enacted that are tough and yet fair? This is a question that governments across the world will have to try and answer in the near future. In addition, Rudd’s resignation could cause a crisis for Theresa May. Rudd has been serving as a political shield for May and has been her greatest ally – with her absence, it would be more difficult for May to navigate other issues such as Brexit negotiations.

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