Thread on why @theresa_may's Hostile Environment policy could potentially work in the Netherlands but cannot possibly work in the UK.
And why @David_Goodhart (of Anywheres vs Somewheres) is fundamentally wrong about ID cards.
The STATED objective of the Hostile Environment is to remove illegal immigrants.
I'll try and explain why in fact this is impossible in the UK, and rather the ACTUAL objective of the Hostile Environment is to make life hell for UNDOCUMENTED people. ANY undocumented people.
Two facts first that we need to agree on.
First, a crucial one - in order to remove illegal immigrants, you need to be able to distinguish not just between illegal immigrants and legal IMMIGRANTS, but between illegal immigrants and legal CITIZENS.
The difference is NOT trivial.
Second fact you need to know is that this decision of distinguishing between illegal immigrants and legal citizens is not just taken once centrally, but, BY DESIGN it is to be taken by all landlords, healthcare providers, banks, employers, DWP, education establishments.
So how do landlords, employers, healthcare providers etc make this decision to distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal citizens?
Employers can face unlimited fines and 5 years jail sentence if they fail to distinguish between an illegal immigrant and a legal citizen.
Here is the simple guide to help employers distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal citizens. It's only 25 pages long.
Landlords can face unlimited fines and 5 years jail sentence if they fail to distinguish between an illegal immigrant and a legal citizen.
Here is the simple guide to help landlords distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal citizens. It's only 39 pages long.
As far as I'm aware, I don't think NHS employees can face fines or jail sentences for treating illegal immigrants. Perhaps Theresa May is still building up the courage for that one.
The NHS is merely under huge financial pressure.
But here is the simple guide to help NHS employees distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal citizens. This one is only 118 pages long.
They all have to be immigration experts and check for illegal immigrants.
You can check EU citizens for EU passports (for now at least, that's enough).
You can check non-UK/EU citizens for e.g. proof of leave to remain.
But what about those who claim they're not EU or non-UK/EU?
In other words, what about British citizens? After all, if you're worried about checking foreigners, then non-foreigners will need to prove that they're not foreigners.
(For a bit of diversion, I would HIGHLY recommend The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss).
So, to check the "non-foreigners", "one of us", "not one of them" category, there's a variety of acceptable documents - including a British passport (though note! the NHS guidance says that's not in itself enough for being eligible for NHS treatment), or birth certificate.
This is where the system starts falling down.
What about British citizens who don't have a British passport? Or whose birth certificate doesn't show they were born in the UK?
This is of course the group that includes the Windrush generation that thanks to the wonderful journalism of @ameliagentleman (who has been writing about this for MONTHS) most people are now aware of, and horrified about.
But hold on - why particularly the Windrush generation? Why not other British citizens who struggle with documentation?
Well…. occasionally it does also catch out British citizens born here - see this case from last year.
I think the answer lies in the fact that many service providers really struggle with these complex guidances. They may want to ignore them altogether. But the fines are scarily high if they "knowingly" employ / let to illegal immigrants, and the NHS is under financial pressure.
So what do they do? To avoid of being accused of "unknowingly" emplying/letting to/treating illegals, they pick out people who they "suspect" of being foreign, and check them. How do you do that?
You go for accent, you go for skin colour.
This research by JCWI backs this up:
"27% [of landlords] are reluctant to engage with those with foreign accents or names. Checks are not being undertaken uniformly for all tenants, but are instead directed at individuals who appear ‘foreign’."
This is why what Prince Charles said WAS SO IMPORTANT.
"After being introduced to the prince, she says he asked where she was from. When she replied "Manchester ", he reportedly quipped "Well, you don't look like it", before laughing and walking away."
Anyway, back to my original statement that this ingenious scheme called Hostile Environment could work in the Netherlands, but is fatally flawed in the UK.
In the Netherlands (and other countries, but I'll talk about the one I know about), everyone registers with the community you live in. If you move from say Rotterdam to The Hague, you deregister from Rotterdam, and then you re-register in The Hague.
EVERYONE has to register with their community. Not just foreigners. Not just EU citizens. Not just adults. EVERYONE.
It's not an ID card, and it's not something to be carried at all times. Nothing like that. It's just a registration.
When someone from outside the Netherlands arrives in the Netherlands, they do the same - and obviously can only go on the register if they're entitled to do so.
So, in the Netherlands they can check easily whether someone is entitled to work, rent, healthcare etc. Really easy. Landlords, employers, healthcare providers don't have to be immigration experts. There's no "them and us". EVERYONE is on the register.
@David_Goodhart completely misses the point when he says on Newsnight that giving foreigners biometric ID cards would solve things.
No it wouldn't because what about CITIZENS who don't have these biometric ID cards?
How do you prove you don't need one?
There's a fundamental paradox at the heart of the Hostile Environment policy.
Opposition to any mandatory registration for ALL, and an obsession with getting immigration down AT ALL COSTS.
And see this article for the tip of the human cost iceberg. /End
Excellent thread, clearly explained. Like everyone else, I had to register locally in Germany & Netherlands when I lived there, also in France where I had a house, but didn’t live there. Simple system. Cheaper to run than hostile environment. Non-divisive too.
Chris 🔶#RevokeA50 ⭐ #SaveOurStar ⭐ #FBPE #FPHD
I think I may have mistakenly oversimplified the situation in NL.
But the UK doesn't even know who's here (not even their own citizens), yet through ideology introduce a policy requiring citizens to ask other citizens for "their papers", resulting in widespread discrimination.