One of Theresa May’s flagship policies as Home Secretary has come back to haunt her. New figures show that thousands of Britons are actually being targeted for immigration spot checks through “racial profiling”. And many are blaming May for creating this “hostile environment”.
The report suggests that one in five of 102,552 people stopped by officials between January 2012 and January 2017 were actually British citizens. It also suggests that ‘British’ was the most common nationality among those stopped in 11 different cities.
Pragna Patel from campaign group Southall Black Sisters said:
This data clearly points to racial profiling practices by the Home Office. Unfortunately this is part of the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy that this Government is intent on pursuing, no matter the impact on communities and individuals.
Theresa May said that her policies would “create a really hostile environment for illegal migrants” when she was Home Secretary. And the issue of racial profiling has come up before. In particular, a human rights body found that the use of stop-and-search measures disproportionately hit black people. And officials tend to target Asian people when using anti-terror laws that allow them to randomly question people at ports and airports.
Waste of time
Home Office guidance reportedly states that any stops must be on the basis of intelligence. But human rights lawyers say that if officials are targeting people who are actually British citizens, then the intelligence must be “wholly flawed”.
As we have seen in Walthamstow, this policy is not only divisive and offensive, it is also a waste of time.
An account in TBIJ’s report describes a raid at a Chinese takeaway in an area of Cardiff with a potentially high number of ethnic minorities. Eye witnesses said the situation was intimidating; and that officials interviewed a number of people, including those who were born British or who had naturalised. They then left without making any arrests. Campaign group Liberty has said that “so-called ‘intelligence-led'” practices are often just fishing exercises. And that the ‘intelligence’ could simply be a phone call from an angry neighbour.
The Home Office responded to the report saying:
It is unlawful for an Immigration Officer carrying out their duties to undertake any act that constitutes direct discrimination based on a person’s race or ethnicity.
A person’s colour or perceived ethnic origin can never be the basis of a reasonable suspicion that someone is an immigration offender. Nothing in the data provided indicates that this is happening.
TBIJ’s report is damning. Furthermore it strongly suggests that the Home Office is acting against its own rules. This situation stems from May’s own hostile policy to make those coming to Britain feel as unwelcome as possible. But the data also shows that it’s not just those coming to Britain without proper documentation who bear the brunt of it. It’s even impacting British citizens. The Home Office said it itself – racial profiling is both unlawful and discrimination. It’s time that it ended.
– Read the full investigation here.
– Read more Canary articles on immigration.
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