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A Kenyan immigrant’s open letter to Tony Blair

-A Case Against Fortress Europe - Estrella del Pais
Erzählung und Erfahrungen des aus Spanien abgeschobenen Flüchtlings Michel Bashige

A Kenyan immigrant’s open letter to Tony Blair

Mr Prime Minister, we are puzzled by what you mean by British values — tolerance and fair play?

I am a human rights’ activist from Kenya, an asylum seeker and a former detainee of immigration. I was detained by your government for eight and a half months in the United Kingdom. Sir, thousands of detainees and immigrants are victims and survivors of your intolerance, unfairness and injustice.

I am one of the targets for your Tipping the Balance Scheme and War Against Immigrants — which focus on asylum seekers. The other targets include forced immigrants, undocumented workers and overstayers. I write to you hoping that I do not suffer yet more reprisals, for challenging your British Values rhetoric. We are hopeful that you will accede to our human values.

Sir, because of your arbitrary targets on detention and forced deportations, we have been unjustly refused asylum, a right we have the freedom to seek and enjoy, and for which your government is obligated to afford us as a signatory of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention. We also deserve humanitarian protection as you are obligated to offer by the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

We have been called ‘illegal’ when we have simply been exercising our freedom of movement and seeking equal rights. Free movement of capital knows no borders. We have been called many names — a flood, a wave, a swamp, a tsunami, a drain, criminals and illegal asylum seekers. But asylum seekers can never be illegal. In fact, no one is illegal.

The legal process has been a sham and only serves as due process! You have also targeted undocumented workers and dismissed us as ‘illegal’, but how can a person be illegal? How does an illegal person look like? Are they from another planet?

Sir, you have also called our work illegal yet we teach and care for your children, disabled, elderly and mentally ill. We treat and nurse the sick; we cater for and add cultural diversity; we drive the buses, trains, coaches, trucks and vans; we work in your factories and stack your supermarket shelves.

We clean your offices and your streets; we guard your businesses and your homes; we construct your houses and buildings; we pick your harvest and work tirelessly in and out of season in jobs that your citizens would not. Employers exploit us for being ‘illegal’ workers and pay us below the minimum wage. We are also consumers. All at your convenience!

Our children play with your children. We even start families with your sons and daughters although now we need to pay and seek your Government’s permission to marry them, which you often refuse. We attend your institutions of higher learning and pay higher fees. We even support your football teams!

But you still find many ways to socially exclude us, use force and power and then blame us for not integrating in British society. We do not complain a lot. We cannot for we would be accused of not adopting ‘the British way of life’!

Does that make the important roles we play in your society, the taxes we pay and national insurance contributions that you collect from us illegal? Are the profits we generate for your businesses illegal?

Are the social contributions we make, without which Britain would not be Great Britain, illegal? Can we get our illegal money, all the tax contributions we have made to build this society, back?

In your scheme, you stated that ‘the number of refused asylum seekers removed each month should exceed the number of new asylum applicants’ who, it is predicted, will not be granted leave to remain in the UK as a result of their asylum application.

The writer is a human rights campaigner