With an election approaching, the UK government plays bad cop

You’re welcome to appeal, just not from our shores
You’re welcome to appeal, just not from our shores
Image: AP Photo/Dave Caulkin
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With an eye on national elections in May, the UK government is adopting a particularly tough stance on immigration, branding some asylum seekers “foreign criminals.” A missive from the Home Office strikes an unusually harsh tone, boasting about its new ”deport first, appeal later” policy.

Prime Minister David Cameron has made cracking down on immigration a big part of his first term, blaming all manner of social ills, from crowded schools to a stretched health system, on people from other countries.

His Conservative-led coalition government’s latest measure stops foreign nationals appealing government decisions while they are in the UK. Instead, they are deported and can appeal afterwards. “This is putting a stop to delaying tactics often employed by criminals desperate to thwart justice,” in the parlance of the Home Office. It says nearly 800 foreigners are being “kicked out” under the new rule.

Reality, however, trumps rhetoric. Over the last ten years, forced removals have actually been falling.

Image for article titled With an election approaching, the UK government plays bad cop

The crimes of those targeted in the Home Office campaign are not specified. But whatever they’ve done or been accused of, one thing is for sure: Having family in the UK won’t help them. The government points out that the new measures mean even people with family members in the UK have been deported.

The tone will likely appeal to those worried about asylum claims made by notorious figures like Abu Qatada, a cleric accused of terrorism who fought to stay in Britain rather than face extradition to Jordan. He was finally deported in July 2013, after a battle between Britain and the European Court of Human Rights. That court has held that no one should be sent back to a country which might subject them to torture.

In October 2014, Cameron’s Conservative party said that it would consider withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights if the Court’s powers weren’t limited.