Filed under: ID cards second reading
“I can’t be sure of the numbers of people who are illegals in this country, for the same reason that the previous government couldn’t.”
Tony Blair, The Paxman Interviews, 20 April 2005
“Until we change the system of checking people in and out of the country, … until we have ID cards, and until we have visas which have biometrics with them then we will not be able to give appropriate and accurate estimates of the numbers of people who have got permission to come into this country, or who are not here legally.”
Des Browne, Immigration Minister, Radio 4 Today programme, 21 April 2005
“Up to 570,000 illegal immigrants are living in the UK, according to a new Home Office estimate…
The Home Office says its best estimate is 430,000 but the number could be between 310,000 and 570,000.”
BBC News Online, 30 June 2005
And guess what comes next…?
“Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said the figures were a “best guess”.
“By its very nature, it is impossible to quantify accurately, and that remains the case,” he said.
Mr McNulty said the estimate underlined the need for identity cards.”
Well, you do surprise me - what do we get tomorrow - another lecture from ‘Buff’ Hoon on the evils of public cynicism about Government?
In case anyone’s wondering how the Government managed to arrive at this figure - other than the obvious method of pulling numbers out of their arse in a desperate attempt to shore up declining public support for ID Cards - the answer is by using the following formula…
Total foreign born-population in UK minus estimated total legal foreign-born population = illegal migrant population
In other words, the tried and trusted research methodology of guesswork, a biro and the back of a - soon to be banned in public places - fag packet.
Sorry but you’ve broken the bullshit-o-meter which is now covered in more crap that the streets of Pamplona.
Still as the Government wants us to believe that ID cards are the solution to the problem of illegal immigration, let’s not be churlish and put this idea to a simple test of logic…
1. It is not possible to prevent people entering this country illegally.
Even if we did manage to ’stop up’ the official ports of entry, the British mainland still has 11,072.76 miles of coastline - according to the supremely reliable Ordinance Survey.
If someone, whether a terrorist, economic migrant or even a genuine asylum seeker wants to get into the UK badly enough then they will do it and nothing short of building a fucking wall around the entire UK will stop them - assuming they don’t think of flying over the wall in a light aircraft and landing in one of the nice flat fields to be found all across the Eastern part of England.
2. Even if it were possible to prevent people entering the country illegally, which it isn’t, there are still anything up to 570,000 illegal immigrants already here - according to these new Home Office ‘figures’ - who can’t be stopped at the border because they’re already in the country.
For ID Cards to serve any purpose in tackling immigration they must be used to identify illegal immigrants AFTER they enter the UK in order that they can be arrested and deported.
IT NOW FOLLOWS THAT
3. The simple fact of issuing ID Cards will not help to identify illegal immigrants.
By definition these people are here illegally and therefore not in the ’system’ -
They pay no tax or national insurance.
They don’t claim welfare benefits.
They are not on the register of electors.
They will not have a bank account unless it is in a false identity obtained with false documents.
They don’t pay council tax, or send their children - if they have any with them and most probably don’t - to school.
They are also most probably not registered with a doctor or with the NHS.
If they have a car, they have no licence, no insurance and no MOT.
They are NOT in the system as it exists today.
How can we be sure of this?
Because if they were in anyway in the system, they would be traceable and if they were traceable they could be arrested and deported already without the need for ID cards and there wouldn’t be a problem.
THIS LEADS US TO
4. It is not the ID Card that will identify an illegal immigrant but the absence of an ID Card.
Once introduced the Government will be able to identify illegal immigrants because they will not have an ID Card…
…This will ONLY be true if, or rather when, ID Cards are made compulsory for everyone. Until then, the fact that someone does not possess an ID card does not automatically prove that they are an illegal immigrant.
5. Even when ID cards become compulsory you still have the problem of how you identify whether someone has an ID card or not…
Given that illegal immigrants are not in habit of wandering around our town centres wearing conspicuous ‘Make Deportation History’ wristbands, the only way of identifying them is for the Police to stop them and ask to see their ID Card.
This will only work if it is not only compulsory to have an ID card but if we are also compelled to carry that card at all times.
If carrying your ID card is not compulsory then the most that the Police could do is, as with motorists caught for minor traffic offences, issue you with a notice requiring you to attend a Police Station with your documents…
… and, of course, not only would an illegal immigrant who has been given such a notice not turn up but they would also more than likely skip town so as to lessen the risk that they may be spotted and arrested.
In order for ID Cards to assist in identifying and arresting illegal immigrants not only must it be compulsory to have one but it must also be compulsory to carry it at all times and ONLY if both conditions are satisfied would the Police be in a position to detain someone they suspect may be an illegal immigrant while their identify is checked.
WHICH LEADS INEXORABLY TO
6. Even if all these conditions are satisfied, the Police must still identify a potential illegal immigrant in order to stop them and ask them to verify their identity by producing an ID card.
7. How will the Police be able to differentiate between an possible illegal immigrant and a genuine citizen without first stopping them and asking them to produce their ID card?
They won’t be able to with any degree of certainty, which means that the decision to stop someone and check their ‘papers’ or not will have to be based on a ‘value judgement’ - i.e. a guess - based on whether the individual officer suspects that they may be an illegal immigrant?
AND THIS WILL OF COURSE MEAN THAT
8. Such decisions will inevitably be based on an individual Police Officer’s perception of whether an individual looks like the may be an illegal immigrant, i.e. whether and to what extent they look ‘foreign’.
… What about the regulations governing the Police powers of ’stop and search’ which state that they should only use such powers without your consent if they have a reasonable suspicion that you may be carrying a firearm, offensive weapon, controlled substance, stolen goods or may be ‘going equipped’ to commit a burglary or other theft?
Well, you’ll have noticed straight away that all the situations in which the Police are permitted to use the stop and search powers relate to situations which are or may lead to a criminal offence being committed…
…and by definition an illegal immigrant has entered the country illegally and has, therefore, committed a criminal offence.
But even were than not sufficient to justify the Police stopping someone for ‘looking foreign’ in order check their identity then remember that the people who are introducing ID Cards are the same people who can change the law to allow the Police to stop and search people on suspicion that they may be an illegal immigrant anyway.
If you are Black and live in Britain, you are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched by the Police than if you are White.
If you are Asian, you are three times more likely to be stopped and searched by the Police than if you are White - and these figure come from an analysis of the British Crime Survey, carried out for the Home Office, using data from 2000, i.e. before the 11th September attack on the World Trade Centre and ‘The War Against Terror’ - or T.W.A.T. as it should more properly be called.
How much more likely will you be to be stopped by the Police if you are not white, once searching out illegal immigrants becomes part of their routine duties thank to ID Cards is anyone’s guess but one thing you can be sure of is that the disparity in stop and search rates between White and non-White communities will head in only one direction.
All of which brings me to the final slab of bullshit for today, fresh from the Second Reading debate on the ID Cards Bill…
Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington, Lab)
On the impact of ID cards—which must necessarily become compulsory in due course—on black and minority ethnic communities, the whole House accepts that the Bill does not extend the powers of the police. But it does extend the pretexts on which the police might stop people. All of us who live and work in our inner cities know what that could mean. The Home Secretary should take seriously the concerns of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Muslim Council of Britain, because the last thing that we need is legislation that will further turn the screw on community relations in our big towns.
Charles Clarke (Secretary of State, Home Office)
I do take seriously the concerns of various organisations representing minority ethnic communities, and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), with whom we have also discussed this point in the past. I do not accept her argument that the Bill offers a pretext for police to behave differently from how they do now. The powers are there right now for the police to act in the way that they do. The ID card does not change that regime…
…which is, of course, complete and utter bollocks as everything that precedes in this article demostrates - unless, of course, the Government is lying to us about the importance of ID Cards in tackling illegal immigration to the UK.
You choose which interpretation you prefer.
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