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New Immigration Bill will increase racism

MORE CHECKS: People living in the UK face greater scrutiny under new Immigration Bill (PA)

LAST WEEK saw the second reading of the Immigration Bill which seeks to create an "apartheid-style" state in the UK and is part of the on-going anti–migrant agenda by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Disgracefully only 18 MPs voted against it at the second reading with the Labour Party also expressing its support. Only seven Labour MPs voted against it.

The Bill proposes that landlords verify immigration status of prospective tenants which will lead to racial profiling and discrimination but not just landlords, the same will happen for obtaining a driving licence, getting married and more.

Those tasked with checking immigration status will not have the knowledge or expertise to carry this out and are more likely to target anyone "perceived" to be an immigrant.

Also a reduction in rights to appeal and a charge for all migrants without indefinite leave to remain in the UK in order to access the NHS which can have serious consequences for health and seeks to put off students, workers and entertainers coming to the UK.

It appears racist in intent and will most definitely lead to increased racism in the UK and African, Caribbean and Asian people being targeted.

BARAC UK is one of 65 organisations who have come together to form Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX). Two weeks ago we had a well-attended launch in Parliament which was addressed by MPs who oppose the Bill from three parties, trade union representatives and BARAC amongst others.

On October 22, MAX organised a protest outside and lobby of Parliament attended by 150 people to express opposition to the Bill as the second reading took place and went on in the afternoon to give solidarity to the Chinese Community in London’s China Town who closed down all businesses and staged a protest in response to raids.

We are seeking the spport of the public to lobby their MPs ahead of the Committee Stage of the Bill calling on them not to support the Bill and oppose it. For those who are part of an organisation that has an interest in the Bill you can submit written evidence.

The Committee will take oral expert evidence on October 31. It will then begin examining the content of the Bill. These meetings are open to the public.

If we, as a community, don’t respond and campaign against the Bill we will see racism deepening in the UK at a time when black and migrant people are being scapegoated by the Government over cuts and austerity. Instead of allowing a return of the "No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs" signs we need to bring our own message of No Racism, No Xenophobia, No Apartheid.

Britain is a multicultural country, developed over centuries, which is a strength and enriches our society. Migrants to the UK have always benefited UK society and the UK economy contrary to the myths and lies spread by politicians and sections of the media.

We need to celebrate who we are and say no to the attempts to divide communities and no to racist policies and scapegoating.

Zita Holbourne is the national co-chair / co-founder of BARAC UK and elected to the PCS Union National Executive Committee.

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