Sunday, 1 July 2007

Immigrant Workers: Police Harrassment in Cardiff

RESPECT members in Cardiff have reacted with disgust and anger to the news that fellow workers are being harrased by the home office and demand the immediate release and right to work of 5 arrested immigrant workers described as "illegal".

Adam Johannes, a clerical worker and member of Roath RESPECT who saw the operation first hand commented:

"Why should it be classified as illegal to come to Cardiff from another country to find work and seek a better life?

The UK state and their media demonise asylum seekers and economic refugees, but surely the real enemy of working people is the top 10% of the population who own two-thirds of the wealth in this country and are making us work the longest hours for the worst pay in Western Europe?

The wealthy will move to whichever country gives them the biggest tax break, but working people face discrimination, imprisonment and deportation.

It is vital that trade unionists, anti-capitalists and the organised labour movement defend immigrant workers and challenge racism: No one is illegal".

On Friday, the police sealed off both ends of Caroline Street (popularly known as Chip Alley) shutting down the street for half an hour as immigration and border authorities raided local fast food outlets. They bullied and harrased workers in the late night kebab and chip shops demanding passports and proof of status. 5 workers were taken away.


llantwit said...

Hiya - thought I'd post a copy of a Gagged! abarchist newsletter article inspired by your post about this on Urban 75:

Cardiff Immigration Raids: Nobody is illegal

A Kebab-house was closed and five takeaway workers arrested after Cardiff cops and immigration bureaucrats raided chip shops in Cardiff’s Caroline Street (Chip Lane) at the beginning of July. Chaos ensued as officials closed the street down and harassed people for hours.

One worker at Dorothy’s Fish Bar said: “There have been lots of police here, at least 20 officers. They sealed off Caroline Street at both ends and have been through all the takeaways looking for illegals. They checked all the staff’s passports and their status.”

It is not yet known what these people were nicked for – just that they were working illegally. They could have been so-called ‘illegal immigrants’ (people who have entered the country at great risk to themselves in order to find a better life away from poverty and oppression), or they could be asylum seekers awaiting Home Office approval to stay in the UK.

Under current laws refugees fleeing war or oppressive regimes are not allowed to work or earn money while their applications to stay are processed, and are instead made to live of tiny state handouts. When they do try and work, to make a bit of cash and claw back some self-respect, they are forced into low-paying menial jobs, and if discovered they are treated as criminals and deported.

This is a scandal. Counter to the lies of opportunist politicians and the racist tabloid press immigrants are actually good for the economy. In fact any financial ‘burden’ from asylum seekers comes mainly from repressive attempts to keep them out (border controls, prison-like detention centres), and keep them down (not allowing them to work and making them live off paltry benefits).

Most asylum seekers are from countries where there has been military intervention by the West (in particular from Iraq immediately before the invasion), and others are mainly from countries whose repressive regimes are armed and supported by the West. We have a responsibility to give these people a second chance.

But the most important point is that nothing can justify the suffering that is imposed on innocent people like those arrested in Cardiff in the name of ‘immigration controls’. The rich can settle in whichever country makes them pay the least tax, and bankers make vast sums of money cross borders at the touch of a button, but the poor are forced to risk their lives to cross borders and try and make a better life for themselves.

Gagged! supports the right to free movement, together with equal rights for all residents, and the right for people to decide for themselves where they wish to live and work.

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artberry said...

There is another way of looking at it though. There have to be controls on immigration because labour is a resource. If richer nations such as the UK encouraged people from poorer nations to come to work here en masse. This would essentially represent exploitation. Because robbing developing countries of their best qualified and most able workers doesn't benefit those countries it would represent imperialistic exploitation. Which is one reason why poorer nations are poor.