Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Home Office 'dispersal' opposite to integration
It has long been known, and conceded by the Home Office, that asylum seekers - and those whose immigration status is (supposedly) pending and have been given supposedly temporary 'indefinite leave to remain' - are sent to various parts of the country. This is described by the Government as "dispersal", but as with all things from the Government, the term is radically misleading.
The word 'dispersal' means 'spreading around', or 'diluting', but in the context here it clearly signifies an attempt to lower the impact of immigration by avoiding concentration - specifically in London, but also generally. We have never been told the detail of this 'dispersal', and it turns out that far from spreading around or diluting, what has been the policy and practice is not avoiding but actually creating concentration. This concentration is not in the general community - the use of the term 'community' here is about as apposite as in 'care in the community'. There is no community involvement at all; or rather, no community involvement by the wider society, but instead a great deal of community involvement by these people collectively themselves; this being aided and abetted by the Government.
When by comparison to the levels of immigration today, minuscule numbers arrived from Kenya and Uganda (a very few tens of thousands in the 1960s), Leicester City Council took out ads to persuade them not to come to Leicester to join their fellow nationals but to go elsewhere. This was in the interests of integration - albeit that Council leaders may have been thinking more about possible negative reaction by the majority population rather than helping new settlers to assimilate.
How different then is the Government's current (or very recent) stance that has now been revealed: to actually concentrate fellow nationals. This is the direct facilitation of 'chain migration'. 'Chain migration' is the exponential growth of geographically demarcated enclaves of migrants of the same nationality or even of sub-groups of one nationality (according to region or city of origin, religion, etc). A 'migrant enclave' is the term used in polite discussion - well, until very late in the day, extremely impolite discussion - of what some would say pejoratively might be referred to as a 'ghetto'. It's the same thing.
What (the still restricted) discussion about immigration has singularly failed to engage with, is that the cohesiveness within a migrant enclave is the really profound behaviour and strong emotion concerning immigration. The mirror to this is a hostility to the majority community without. Both of these phenomena are more potent that what has been wrongly supposed to be the main problem: the hostility of the majority community to the minority new arrivals. All that we see is down to universal human social psychology. People always behave this way.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the behaviour of new arrivals in adamantly sticking together -- they feel they have to (and with some good reason as well as through paranoia), to survive. Likewise there is nothing wrong with the indigenous population feeling what is a kind of jealousy of the vibrant though insular community spirit of the new arrivals who have seeded themselves and rapidly grown in an isolated area in their midst. It is a spirit that many within the 'white' population are themselves all too aware that they have largely lost. This 'jealousy' by the majority is not as potent as the social centripetal and centrifugal forces (cohesiveness and hostility to the outside) experienced by members of the new minority. None of these feelings are anybody's 'fault'. This is not in any way a blame game. It is simply pointing out a reality. Migrant enclaves are all too easy to allow to grow and grow; and the larger and faster they grow, the less reason there is for individuals within them to integrate into wider society.
Policy that actually bolsters instead of helping to break down migrant enclaves; far from contributing to integration, clearly hinders it. What on earth did the Home Office think it was doing? Here blame is appropriate. Blame can most certainly be laid at the door of the Home Office for this.
Looking at the reality of the migrant enclave is not a view from the political Right: it is precisely what David Goodheart has been arguing for some time. David Goodheart is the editor of the Left's leading publication, Prospect Magazine. He is the author of a major report published by the Left thinktank, Demos, just a month ago; on how to maintain and create a sense of Britishness. The problem of the impact on the cohesiveness of the wider community of the migrant enclave is his central topic.
What does the Home Office think it is doing, knowingly importing the protagonists of major conflicts into Britain? Quite evidently these conflicts are perpetuated between the rival groups once they are established here. The 'dispersal' policy is an admittance by the Government that this problem exists and that it is aware of it and trying to do something about it. Why then does is this not a major factor in considering whether refuge should be given to any individual? If someone is likely to play some role in a conflict, to reflect what he was doing or was likely to have been doing in his native country: isn't this of itself good grounds for refusing asylum?
If the Government is in trouble for bringing a war to another nation far away from our borders (Iraq), then how much more trouble should it be in for bringing wars that are nothing to do with us - and of no interest to us - on to our own streets? And what if these conflicts turn out to be in some way related to the Iraq debacle, so that one or more of the belligerent groups turns on Britain itself?
Perhaps the biggest question all this raises relates to all that we have learnt in the past two or three weeks about Home Office and especially IND meltdown. How is it that the Home Office does not know - and evidently does not care about - the identity or whereabouts of those supposedly on its books, as it were, in the immigration system (sic); yet it has the wherewithal and puts in the effort to micromanage where many of these individuals are allowed to live? Should not the Government be expending (transferring) this effort in stopping illegal immigration and bogus asylum seekers from getting into the country in the first place? And failing that, to identify and then expel them? The whole exercise looks very much like the sort of attention to detail that is a distraction from failure to see or to be able to do anything about the main issue.