UPDATE: 26 January
There is now a Change.org petition highly critical of the government and the lack of any response from the Home office minister Caroline Nokes, The comments are worth reading and mostly supportive of his case.
UPDATE: January 25: 15:30
Reza now in Afghanistan Salisbury Journal 25th
UPDATE: January 23, 18:00
Reza is reported to be in Kabul see https://www.change.org/p/home-office-stop-deportation-of-reza-to-afghanistan
UPDATE: January 22, 18:00
Latest news is the Reza is due to be deported at any moment.
Further developments with Reza Maghsoudi
Readers may recall an earlier post about a refugee from Afghanistan who has been living in this country for some years and Salisbury for 2, who went to Melksham police station for a routine appointment, whereupon he was arrested and sent to a Detention Centre prior to a planned deportation. Reza Maghsoudi gained some local publicity and there was a follow-up item on BBC Wiltshire last month.
In today’s Salisbury Journal (4 January 2018), the Salisbury MP Mr Glen, in his View from the Commons piece, devotes some space to Reza’s case:
I was in my office at 9am on January 2nd to plan my latest intervention on behalf of Reza Maghsoudi, the young Afghan national who is facing deportation. His many allies in Salisbury have been fighting compassionately and tirelessly to help him regularize his immigration status so that he can continue with his life he has built here – the dear friends he has made and the skills he has learned.
A decision is due and I have been keen to once again to ensure that the case in on the personal radar of the minister so that the significant new evidence that has come to light in recent week can be taken into account.
This is of course encouraging and we hope that the combination of publicity and political pressure bear fruit.
Why are we here?
But why do we have a situation like this in the first place? Why do we have a series of policies whereby someone like Reza is held in a detention centre and is under constant threat of deportation? The answer of course is because for some years now the government has pursued aggressive policies in an attempt to reduce immigration. These have included:
- plans to reduce immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’
- tightening of work visa eligibility
- greater scrutiny of students concerning their eligibility to stay and study
- reducing benefits to the lowest level in Europe
- provision of sub-standard housing and is what the home affairs sub-committee described as ‘disgraceful’.
- introducing bureaucratic delays which regularly force people into destitution according to the Refugee Council.
The benefit reductions came about because it was claimed by David Cameron, when he was the prime minister, that our benefits were a ‘magic pull’ to people wishing to come here. There was no evidence for this. This led to cuts trumpeted to save £500m. These attitudes have been stirred up by some of the media who have great influence on government policy. One media commentator called refugees ‘cockroaches’ in the Daily Mail for example. Despite research evidence to show that immigrants are of net benefit to the UK economy, politicians and some media editors constantly refer to them as a ‘problem’ and a drain on the economy. They are seen as another form of scrounger. People seeking asylum – like Reza – have been conflated with immigration as a deliberate policy (Migration Policy).
So Reza is a small part of a concerted programme of demonizing immigrants and asylum seekers by legal restrictions, benefit reductions and detaining them in detention centres. It is interesting to contrast the plans being prepared by Mr Glen in the Salisbury Journal piece with a rather different speech he made in the House Of Commons:
One aspect of that reform, referred to in the Queen’s Speech, is access to benefits for immigrants. It is right that the Government are considering limiting access to housing benefit and health care for people who have not earned the right to it. It is not enough to keep ignoring that uncomfortable truth because we are frightened of being too right wing, too nasty or too unpleasant. The routine experience of people up and down this country is that on the front line, at the point of delivery and at the point of receiving public services, they are too often displaced by people who, apparently, should not have the right to access those services. I am pleased that the Government will address that in legislation. (Source: Theyworkforyou.com, May 2013 Queen’s Speech debate (our highlight)
Mr Reza’s case is not about benefits but it is about the attitudes of a government who have adopted an aggressive approach based upon misinformation and media attacks. We wish Reza every success.
Sources: BBC; fullfacts.org; Refugee Council; Migration Policy; UCL; Guardian; Independent