Immigration crackdown

Pakistani, Iraqi and Kurdish workers, as well as members of Brent Labour Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party, were among those present at Brent Communist Party’s branch meeting against the government’s immigration crackdown. Below we report extracts from comrade Stan Kelsey’s speech

NO WORKER is illegal as far as communists are concerned. The rich have no problem travelling the world, and workers are entitled to enjoy the same right.

The government’s immigration crackdown would make immigrant workers more vulnerable to ruthless exploitation and so undermine the pay and conditions of all workers - as well as delivering immigrant workers into the hands of racketeers to seek expensive forged papers or a marriage of convenience.

A false passport can be obtained for some £5,000 - a mere six months earnings in an East London rag trade sweatshop. The Willesden and Brent Chronicle (May 18) estimates 200 bogus “brown envelope” marriages a year in Brent, at a price of up to £3,000 for the “organiser”.

There is no ‘flood’ of immigrants that ‘we’ need to control. Communists do not regard people as a problem. Unemployment and homelessness are caused by capitalism, not ‘surplus population’. When British capitalism needed extra labour in the boomtime 1950s, it went out to recruit immigrant workers from the West Indies and elsewhere. As the postwar boom came to an end, our rulers tried to divide workers by blaming immigrants for the system’s problems.

It is not a question of “Tory” immigration laws. The Labour Party is just as much a party of capitalism. It was Harold Wilson’s Labour government which started the ball rolling with the 1968 Immigration Act - the first of many. Today Labour’s shadow home secretary, Jack Straw, rants against Group 4’s plans for “privatised riot squads” at Campsfield, Heathrow and Gatwick refugee detention centres - but not against the detention of refugees itself.

The present government’s new immigration bill will try to force all manner of officials - housing officers, social security clerks, student administrators, even headteachers - into guessing whether or not people are illegal immigrants, leaving the accused guilty until proven innocent. This means internal checks and constant suspicions and keeps the UK in step with developments in the European Union.

The dropping of internal border controls between the Schengen seven is accompanied by the tightening of both external border controls and internal tripwires to catch ‘illegal’ immigrants, and harass the entire immigrant population, thereby weakening the working class as a whole.

If capital and commodities enjoy freedom of movement, we demand freedom of movement for workers. To build working class unity, workers of all nationalities and all ethnic origins - legal and illegal - must be organised together into one Communist Party.