It's been a particularly unpleasant week in work. Not because of my mad colleagues and their bizarre antics but because an asylum seeking family in the area have been deported. I do not propose to get into a discussion on whether or not asylum seekers should come to the U.K. Nor do I wish to hear about the friend of a friend of a friend you have that 'knows these asylum seekers right, who are just like totally at it'. As if no U.K citizen has ever lied to get into another country.
What has made this particular deportation so upsetting is, as with so many others, the length of time the family have been here (just over five years). During this time they have become fluent English speakers, made friends and become part of the community. I can only imagine that it's particularly traumatic for their children one of whom was born here and the other who has no recollection of life anywhere else and looks, sounds and as far as I am concerned is Scottish. I realise that asylum applications cannot just be taken at face value and waived through. However is it really beyond the Home Office to process applications, particularly those where children are involved in say a year? It is, I believe inhumane to allow people to settle, feel at home, then boot them out.
The native community in the area are also very distressed by this. Let's remember no-one asked them if they wished to take asylum seekers. Nevertheless the vast majority of them have gone above and and beyond the call of duty to make the asylum seekers feel welcome and all this outwith the gaze of community workers and race relations people. Good God! Is it possible that the white working classes might just manage to get on with people regardless of race, without guidance from above? I would also point out that the BNP stood for election in this area hoping to benefit from the tidal wave of ill feeling the arrival of asylum seekers had brought, only to lose their deposit.
Anyway strolling back towards the point, the native community have by and large put their misgivings aside to welcome asylum seekers and are now, again without being consulted expected to accept the deportation of friends and neighbours. Several members of the native community have told me about friends they have made who have been deported and how this has made them reluctant to get too close to other asylum seekers. One woman was particularly distressed about her friend who was sent back to that haven of human rights Iran and is at the time of writing still alive, though he has been roughed up by the police a few times for the heinous crime of being a Christian. On a happier note the fellow is quite pleased just now because he's managed to bind his Bible into the cover of another book which makes him feel a bit safer. I realise that this government excel at treating the electorate with contempt but surely quick, properly researched asylum decisions are in the interests of all concerned. Not least the above individual and his Scottish friends. I don't know about anyone else but Iran is not in my top ten of countries to be a Christian in.
Of course the low morale, bullying and harassment taking place in the Home Office won't help this situation. Nor have the implementation of yet another shitty computer system and raft of redundancies at the Home Office in the late nineties. If we are to achieve the twin goals of a fair asylum system and safer borders then surely a well run, well informed, properly staffed Home Office is essential.