Defend the right to Asylum

ON CHRISTMAS eve 1999, when most youngsters were awaiting a visit from Santa, five-year-old Patrick received a visit from a Home Office official who handed him a deportation notice.

Last week Patrick attended court in an attempt to stay in the UK, the country in which he was born. Patrick has the support of the local community who are horrified at the treatment he has received. Over 1,500 people have signed a petition, and 30 local residents took time off work to attend court to support him.

Patrick`s mother, Mary Njuguna Wandia, fled to England six years ago to escape possible imprisonment or death after uncovering corruption in Kenya. Her colleague in the legal department where she worked as a secretary “disappeared”. The Home Office denies that Mary is in danger, but only last week a Jesuit priest, Father Kaiser, an outspoken opponent of government corruption in Kenya, was found murdered.

The vast majority of the 82,000 people seeking asylum in Britain also face similar oppression. Many, despite having committed no crime, are imprisoned in detention camps. Under Labour’s new Asylum and Immigration Act asylum seekers are prevented from working and are denied benefits, instead being forced to survive on food vouchers. (see letters page) Mary, a legal secretary, retrained as a nursery nurse after coming to England and worked in a school until being ordered to stop working by the Home Office.

The Home Office’s racist policies make it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to legally enter Britain, forcing them to take desperate measures to seek refuge here. Witness the Bangladeshi man who is in intensive care after risking his life jumping from a freight train near the Channel Tunnel, or the 58 Chinese people who suffocated to death in the back of a lorry. These are the people branded by New Labour’s Barbara Roche as ‘bogus migrants’.

How ironic that now Barbara Roche admits there is a shortage of workers in Britain and up to 100,000 immigrants may be invited into the country each year to serve the capitalist economy.

The Socialist Party backs the right of Mary and Patrick and other asylum seekers to stay in this country. We also back the rights of workers to move and seek employment in the country of their choice. There are few restrictions on the free movement of capital. Already the British government allows those setting up a business or those with £250,000 in the bank to stay in this country; here money speaks.

We must not allow asylum seekers or immigrants to become the scapegoats for the economic ills created by capitalism. We will organise black and white workers in a fightback to end capitalism and fight for international socialism.