A foreign student. No, really.
I suppose it was always naïve to think that it's the government that rules this country. Anyone with even a normal amount of healthy cynicism knows that all the real decisions are taken by un-elected officials.
The un-elected official currently in the spotlight is Lin Homer, Chief Executive of the Border and Immigration Agency - you'll remember that this is the organisation in charge of swamping the country with both legal and illegal immigrants, a really important job which no doubt justifies her exorbitant salary.
In 2004 the government announced a series of measures aimed at cracking down on foreign students who overstay their visas and remain in this country illegally. Lin Homer has now decided, unilaterally it seems, that this law doesn't suit her, so she's just going to ignore it. She recently intervened to prevent a student being deported, and has caused her Director of Enforcement, Jonathan Lindley, to email senior immigration officials.
"A proportion of these refusals have led to removal, some of which have been enforced," it said. "One such case came to Lin Homer's attention last week, resulting in the removal being cancelled and some critical comments from Lin.
"I am surprised that any of these cases have come sufficiently high within enforcement teams' priorities to merit such quick removal action. Please instruct your enforcement teams not to proceed with enforcing any student refusal cases unless they are deemed, at at least inspector level, to be a priority ...
"Student case-working teams have been instructed not to pass any further student refusal case linked to this issue to enforcement teams."
In a statement to newspapers Homer explained what was meant by "priority": "Student cases that show evidence of fraud or corruption will continue to be referred for enforcement action," she said. So that's all right, then. If they actually commit a crime, they'll be deported, but otherwise it's open house - whatever parliament thought it was deciding in 2004.
Hallo? I'd like to register for your
Applied Sociology course next year …
Hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals come to study in the UK each year - 309,000 in 2006 - and there are persistent concerns that some may be using supposed courses as a smokescreen for working in the country, or may stay on after their visas run out. Or, to put it another way, many definitely do use their courses as a smokescreen for working in this country, and then stay on after their visas run out. Some don't bother ever turning up for classes, but simply sink without trace into the various immigrant communities.
Me? Oh yes, I'm definitely a student. I'm cool, man
And I say that in full knowledge that I may be arrested by PC Holden of Bedfordshire Police who takes a dim view of internet pages that describe racial differences or tensions (it being one of the main tenets of modern British officialdom that if you don't want a problem to exist, you simply deny that it does. And persecute anyone who dares to say different).
So are we. My goodness, yes. Rah, rah, rah.
Lin Homer evidently knows that putting on a bold front usually wins the day in public life. Not only is she quite happy to simply ignore the law when it suits her, she has now simply denied the whole thing. In a letter published in the Daily Mail today, she writes …
"The Border & Immigration Agency is committed to removing those who break our rules - whether they are illegal workers, failed asylum seekers, foreign criminals or those who overstay their visa.
In 2006, at our ports and within the UK, we removed nearly 64,000 people. In the first three-quarters of last year we removed another 45,000. We also removed a record 4,000 foreign criminals in 2007.
New legislation clearly links criminality to deportation, making it easier to remove those who come to Britain and break our rules. And the use of the latest biometric technology will mean that we can better identify visa cheats and those who seek to hide their identities."
But we grumpy old sods aren't fooled by this thinly-veiled puff for ID cards. It didn't take us a moment to spot the inconsistency between this letter and her department's instructions to its operatives. Nor did it take us long to spot the unsatisfactory figures - they deported 64,000 in 2006, but in the first nine months of 2007 only managed 45,000. This means that by the end of 2007 they will have deported 60,000 which is less than last year.
Note also the weasel-speak about crime and deportation - once again, she is telling us that just being in this country illegally is not something that interests her very much. She's only interested in those illegals who embark on a life of proper crime.
But it's the first sentence that really takes the biscuit: "The B&IA is committed to removing … those who overstay their visa". I suppose what she means is that they're committed to it, and they'll definitely do it … when they get round to it. When they've dealt with all the other priorities. Which they won't ever do.
So their commitment is worthless. Never mind, I expect they'll still get their nice bonuses at the end of the year.
The GOS says: Mind you, they can be tough when they want to.
Tough enough to send 39-year-old Ama Sumami back to Ghana because her visa expired. It's probably a death sentence for her, as she has to have weekly dialysis after cancer damaged her kidneys, but hey, that's not our problem, right? I mean, don't they have dialysis machines in Ghana?
Well, yes, I imagine they have. At a price. Probably a price Ama Sumami can't afford to pay.
So, well done, Lin Homer. God, you're well hard. Always nice to hear of someone in public office who knows exactly what her priorities are. We're lost in admiration.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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