Sunday, November 18, 2007

 

‘Not me guv’: Diffusion of responsibility amid collapse

'Not me guv' is more and more the Government line. That's the shout by the culpable as they point to the fall guys they themselves had set up. Here it's our governors who put in place people to implement what they've made completely unworkable; whether it's the security industry to check the immigration status of their own workforce, or the outsourced firms to provide the necessary 'heavies' to 'remove' illegal immigrants -- and are now themselves in the news, apparently indeed for being 'heavy' (according to the Borders and Immigration Agency Complaints Audit Committee).
    It does occur to the slightly cynical amongst us that this week's Home Office car crash turned pile-up is about to grow longer in the thick fog. Some of these maligned 'removals' men could well turn out to be of the very licensed but unchecked illegal migrants that is the main source of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's current troubles. After all, the firms involved certainly come under the 'security' umbrella.
    Isn't immigration wonderful? A still more daft 'you couldn't make it up' story around every corner.
 
Nothing -- no aspect -- of the immigration and asylum system works, as the Home Office knows all too well. So they've palmed off whatever they can to maximise distance between themselves and the series of inevitable RTAs.
    This last week they have been strongly pushing the line that the fault lies with employers, who are asked to check the immigration status of would-be employees, when the forged documents readily obtainable by illegal immigrants would pass muster with the Home Office's own staff -- because usually they have no forgery training, and couldn't even spot reproductions of their own paperwork. (Anyway, caseworkers are instructed not to check all of the supposedly required documentation, and are still subject to ceilings of very low refusal rates for applications, and consequently a large proportion of officially approved migrants are in fact illegals.) How are employers supposed to be able to do what is a Home Office function but which the Home Office can't manage itself?
    But wait a minute. It's not the employers here. It's neither the employers nor Jacqui's lackeys. The checking was (supposed to be) done by a Home Office quango: the Security Industries Authority. 'Quasi autonomous' does have a certain Home Office ring to it -- as when the Immigration & Nationality Directorate was made 'semi-autonomous' from the Home Office and renamed the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA). That is, for the benefit of the media it was towed out into the English Channel and ceremonially sunk. The beauty of a quango is that it's neither inside nor outside the tent. There's nobody on the outside to cause a fuss and spill the beans, yet nobody on the inside to get wet (to allude to Roosevelt's famous quip). It is the tent; part of it.
 
Regarding those 'heavies': the farce of 'removals' is a particular embarrassment the BIA is thankful to palm off. As ex-Immigration Service staff have revealed, a 'removal' is a purely administrative term and does not at all mean that someone has been excluded from the country. (This now applies even to the rarer from of exclusion: deportation. Removals and deportation officers tell me that many people who are down as deported are still walking the streets.)
    Escorting unwilling subjects to unhappy commercial carriers is a thankless and often fruitless task that inevitably entails violence at times. Being hands-off and eyes averted not only keeps the Home Office free of the legal morass through alleged mistreatment such as hit the news this week, but hides behind sub-contractors not doing the job, the fraud of how 'removals' are recorded.
 
Employers have for some time been a convenient scapegoat. The fiasco of non-regulation of migrant workers was evident during the emergence of the scandal over those from soon-to-be EU states. Firms such as the one run by Victor and Jason Cox and another advised by Christopher Monckton (the former advisor to Margaret Thatcher) approached the Home Office because they were tired of having to field applications from illegals and wanted to be sure they were operating within the law. With agreement from the Home Office they recruited individuals with the relevant documentation, which they offered to send in, but this was declined. Next thing these firms knew were police raids. The Coxes are now in Maidstone jail serving seven year stretches. Why, when they only ever co-operated with the authorities?
    They were an easy hit, to make the Home Office look like they're doing something about illegal migration. Just as with the girls 'rescued' in raids on massage parlours, most of whom turned out to be legal EU immigrants and none were 'trafficked' -- the ostensible purpose of the raids.
    Evidently, beyond some thin PR  the Government doesn't want to actually tackle illegal migrant employment, being content to ignore social consequences and side with less responsible business elements in a free-for-all. Just as it throws its hands in the air regarding expulsions. Both are not solvable given that every other aspect of the 'system' doesn't work.
 
The Home Secretary faced the music all on her own this week. In all the fiasco we haven't heard anything from the actual immigration minister -- and who's even heard of her? After Jacqui Smith's acrimonious divorce from any truth at the despatch box on Tuesday, she is now more completely hitched to her Department in being nothing if not a running joke. There will be new lows.
 
Steve Moxon

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