A new criminal offence of illegal working will apply to migrants who have entered the country illegally and also those who came to the country legally but are in breach of their conditions or have overstayed. Wages paid to illegal migrants will be seized as proceeds of crime. Other proposed measures are new powers to punish landlords who provide housing for illegal immigrants and the banks will be instructed to implement further checks on bank accounts. Force people to appeal against deportation after they have been removed from Britain. Cameron announced moves to reduce “significantly” the number of visas issued to skilled migrants. It will also become an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK - a policy which also featured prominently in Labour's election manifesto. In fact, Labour welcomed the Tory proposals but said it did not go far enough.
"A lot of this will look very familiar to anyone who read Labour's manifesto," shadow immigration minister David Hanson said.
Labour and the Tories try and out-compete each other in scapegoating immigrants to divert attention from the fact that capitalism caused these problems and their policies exacerbated them.
Don Flynn, of the Migrants' Rights Network, said seizing wages would force some people into "systems of modern slavery without hope of protection from the law".
"Irregular migrants in the UK fit no one's image of a law-breaker living on the proceeds of crime," he said. "Their vulnerable status means they are confined to the most insecure and exploitative forms of employment, usually earning scarcely enough to maintain themselves on a day-to-day basis."
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the measures would do nothing to ease the pressure on public services. The claim that immigration is the cause of the problems with the welfare state is a fallacy. Whichever party has been in power they have sought to break up and privatise the welfare state to keep their big-business friends in profit. This has resulted in the privatisation of council housing, cuts in benefits and pensions, and job losses and closures. Immigration is used by big business and its representatives in government to excuse underinvestment in vital services and try and place the blame on anyone but themselves and their system.
The Socialist Party reasserts that the international class struggle is a fact, that the working and ruling classes of the world have nothing in common, and that every attempt to prevent the working classes of the world from uniting in their own interests requires the unqualified condemnation of all those who profess to speak in the interests of labour, regardless of their assertions and pretenses to the contrary. For that reason, every attempt to limit, control or manipulate the working classes of the world in the free exercise of that right is meant to serve the interests of the ruling classes of the world and also requires the unqualified condemnation of all those who profess to speak in the interests of labour. Socialists denounce every attempt to conceal the real motives behind these efforts under the guise of such false pretenses as parroted by Cameron of protecting the wages, jobs and the living standards of British workers against “unfair competition” from illegal immigrant labour, or supposedly defending immigrant workers against ruthless exploitation by unscrupulous employers as the Labour Party tries to deceive. There is no such thing as a ‘British interest’. Society is divided into different classes whose interests are at odds to one another. Capitalism’s profits come from exploiting the labour of working-class people. Nationality, immigrant or indigenous, is unimportant to big business – it will pay as little as it can get away with. The debate on immigration in Britain is not about the economic causes and consequences of immigration at all. It is overwhelmingly a ‘debate’ that allows politicians and others such as those in the right-wing media to whip up xenophobia and racism, while posing as being concerned about the interests of workers or the poor.
Those who scapegoat immigrants as the source of stagnant or falling wages, declining living standards and unemployment, and call for punitive measures against them are mistaken. In truth, however, unemployment, and whatever pressure immigrant labour places on wages, is a direct result of the competitive capitalist system itself. It is a by-product of the system of wage slavery, which forces workers to compete for their livelihoods on the basis of the conditions laid down by the capitalist system. Accordingly, efforts to scapegoat immigrants only serve to divide workers against one another, place greater hardships on immigrants and their families, and draw attention away from the capitalist source of these problems. The concern of working-class people in Britain over the state of welfare provision and wage levels is totally legitimate. However, to place the blame on ‘immigrants’ does not address the causes of these problems or advance anything to improve the situation. The problem is the capitalist system itself.
It is clear that capitalism with its private/state ownership of the economy and exploitation is responsible for economic hardship and insecurity for all workers; that it compels workers for economic reasons to leave their home countries and seek employment elsewhere; that immigration laws, whether promoted by so-called liberals or conservatives, only serve to benefit the capitalist class. Accordingly, the critical issue facing workers today is the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. British workers should have unqualified opposition to all efforts to restrict the right to free immigration. The only way to prevent the race to the bottom is a united struggle of all workers to demand decent pay and decent working conditions for all. We have to stand clearly against the racism and nationalism increasingly being spouted by the capitalist politicians. We have to oppose deportations, the splitting up of families, and the many other inhumane acts of an ever-more brutal immigration system. We have to condemn the cynical attempts of capitalist politicians to play on these genuine fears in order to try and secure a social base for their system. Anti-immigration campaigners talk about ‘the threat to the “British way of life” but most of what is good in that life is being destroyed – not by immigration, but by the brutality capitalism and its endless austerity.
The Socialist Party extends a fraternal hand of welcome to all immigrant workers, and invites them to join in our efforts to abolish capitalism and establish a free and democratic socialist society throughout the world.
The future belongs to us, the workers. We know socialism is possible. We know that only the workers can bring socialism about. We need to build a society where we own in common the factories, the lands,—a society where we are guaranteed housing, education, health-care and jobs. A society where there will be no borders for the working class. We must let people know that socialism is the only answer for the working class. Socialists understand the fears of workers about increased immigration. A socialist world would be a world without borders, but also a world without poverty and war forcing people to move. Only by fighting for a socialist world is it possible to overcome the barriers of the nation state and to create a world without countries and borders.