Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Tue

25

Dec

2007

Deporting foreigners: making the punishment fit the crime?
Tuesday, 25 December 2007 14:56
by Brian Barder

I seem to be alone in deploring the current clamour for deporting every last foreigner who has been convicted of any offence, however minor, and even where the sentencing judge has made no recommendation for deportation. Spokespersons for all three major political parties seem to be competing for the electoral prize for the harshest and most extreme deporter of Johnny Foreigner (presumably the BNP wants to deport them all anyway, whether or not they have been convicted of any offence). One minister has even spoken of her hopes of hitting a 'target' for the numbers of foreigners deported.

A resident of this country who happens to hold another country's passport, but has lived in Britain since early childhood and has no other home, perhaps married to a UK citizen and a parent of children who are UK citizens (who can't, of course, be deported), would suffer one of the most brutal punishments imaginable if deported after serving a few weeks' imprisonment for a quite minor offence. Yet our politicians seem bent on making deportation of offending aliens automatic, regardless of extenuating circumstances or the effects on the offender's family.

When a senior prison service official issued a moderately worded circular suggesting that there was no interest in deporting aliens sent to prison for less than two years, all hell broke loose, with accusations flying about to the effect that the prime minister's promise was being broken and that the country would be flooded with footpads, assassins and rapists if foreigners given shorter sentences than two years were not after all going to be deported. Officials hastily back-tracked:

Ms Homer, chief executive of the BIA [Border and Immigration Agency], played down the significance of the memo, saying it was in line with government policy - and offenders jailed for less than a year could still be deported if a court recommends it. She added: "The prime minister was categorical earlier this year that we are committed to the removal of foreign national prisoners who commit serious crimes in this country. "Nothing in this document changes that and, in fact, this year we have removed more foreign nationals than ever before. We have repeatedly said we will target the most dangerous first, which is why we are initially targeting those who have served more than 12 months."
Chris Huhne, almost elected leader of the Liberal Democrats and reputed to be more 'liberal' and radical than Nick Clegg who narrowly beat him for the job, was as savage in his condemnation as his Tory counterpart. The BBC's full account of the uproar is well worth reading.

Let's hope that we shall soon hear from Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, about this ugly manifestation of paranoid xenophobia — and, even better, from the courts, which will surely take a view on whether deporting an alien who has served a sentence for a minor offence, where there has been no court recommendation for deportation, is compatible with the offender's human rights under the Act and the Convention: is the punishment (for that's plainly what it is) proportionate to the offence? does deportation deprive him or her of the right to family life? is such a punishment, imposed by executive order without due process through the criminal courts, in breach of the right to a fair trial? The government will argue that the right to deport aliens under immigration laws and rules belongs by long tradition to the executive, but the courts have increasingly insisted that where an immigration act shades into punishment, the government must observe basic rules of equity and fairness, including those laid down ion the Human Rights Act. The sooner we get a court ruling on this shoddy and disreputable practice, the better.

This was the issue over which the hapless Charles Clarke lost his job and his career back in May 2006; his successors have obviously learned the lesson. Come back, David Blunkett, John Reid, Michael Howard: all is, apparently, forgiven! (Jack Straw needs no invitation to come back: crafty as an eel, he has never been away.)

Gordon Brown should be ashamed of himself for caving in to this cheap Daily-Mail-driven populism. In the immortal words of Joseph Welch, the US Army's lawyer, addressed to Senator McCarthy in 1953, "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"  
More from this author:
Kosovo, curtain-raiser for Iraq, still in search of a solution (4697 Hits)
by Brian Barder Anyone under the widely shared illusion that NATO's attack on Serbia in 1999 over Kosovo permanently resolved the problem of...
Kosovo: a war crimes trial (3314 Hits)
by Brian Barder My confident guess is that 75% of the westerners who notice a headline about a war crimes trial concerning Kosovo will...
Whose fault was the Falklands war? (5690 Hits)
by Brian Barder The 25th anniversary on 2 April of the Argentine occupation of the Falklands in 1982 has predictably, but tiresomely,...
Here’s a Big Idea for Gordon Brown (3057 Hits)
by Brian Barder Our prime minister-elect needs to shake up politics by coming into office with a Big Idea: one that's new and original, not...
With Weeks to Go, Blair Blames ’Society’ and Proposes Yet More Draconian Police Powers (2781 Hits)
by Brian Barder The definitive comment on the ill-fated Control Orders régime, which almost everyone agrees is hopeless (but for different...
Related Articles:
Leaving the Scene of the Crime? (7270 Hits)
by William Bowles “ The Armed Forces Press Service recently quoted Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker as saying that the current...
Philly Inquirer: Making Biased News out of Mole Hills (7993 Hits)
by Dave Lindorff For an example of shameless partisanship and promotion of one candidate in the news pages, it would be hard to find a ...
Making the World Safer for Terrorism (5510 Hits)
by Walter Brasch Deep in a cave or high on a mountain, in Pakistan or Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or, maybe, sunning on the French...
Making a Killing on Perpetual War: Bush and the F-Word Forever (5276 Hits)
by Heather Wokusch (ED: This is part three of a series and parts one and two can be found here) "I just want you to know that, when we...
Making an Example of Ehren Watada (4550 Hits)
by Norman Solomon The people running the Iraq war are eager to make an example of Ehren Watada. They’ve convened a kangaroo court-martial....


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (2)add comment

James said:

0
...
Immigrating to Britain (or any country) is a privilege, not a right. If that privilege is abused then it should be taken away. Is that so difficult to understand? Not once in your article did you mention the 'human rights' of the native British to expect their government to be discerning in the type of person they allow to stay in Britain. Instead you drag out emotional language about the offender's 'human rights'. Are the British people so low that they can be expected to accommodate other country's criminals?

Deportation is not an extra punishment - it is the revocation of a privilege that was given in good faith. If I am found guilty of theft at work and then prosecuted in the law courts, isn't it an 'extra' punishment to be sacked as well? Surely the response "You should have thought of that before you committed the crime" springs to mind.

By your reasoning Britain should allow foreigners with extensive criminal records to freely enter the country when they've completed their sentences.

Smug, self-righteous, leftists like you are responsible for the annihilation of Britain and the West, although fortunately people are finally catching on (your opening line seems to back this up). Future historians will see people like you as the most appalling generation of traitors in history.
 
December 25, 2007
Votes: +1

Brian B. said:

0
...
I have been notified of a comment on my article (about automatically deporting foreigners, above) which doesn't seem to appear on this website yet, or perhaps at all. The comment, by an unknown respondent, ends:
"Smug, self-righteous, leftists like you are responsible for the annihilation of Britain and the West, although fortunately people are finally catching on (your opening line seems to back this up). Future historians will see people like you as the most appalling generation of traitors in history."

Self-righteous leftist I may be; smug, I'm certainly not. I see the humane liberal values which the left has championed throughout most of my now longish life remorselessly unravelled by people who seem unable to grasp such simple concepts as the possession of fundamental human rights by people living in Britain but not holding British citizenship. Alas, there's nothing whatever to be smug about.

Brian
http://www.barder.com/ephems/
 
December 25, 2007
Votes: +0

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top