Brent politicians slams government’s new drive to tackle illegal immigrants

Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent Central and Cllr Muhammed Butt, Labour leader of Brent Council

Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent Central and Cllr Muhammed Butt, Labour leader of Brent Council - Credit: Archant

Billboards warning ‘go home or face arrest’ will be driven through the borough

Brent politicians have slammed a new government campaign clamping down on illegal immigrants which will be rolled out in the borough.

The controversial initiative by the Home Office will see billboards being driven through Brent warning illegal immigrants to ‘go home or face arrest’.

Leaflets and posters highlighting the advantages of going home voluntarily will also be distributed over the next two weeks.

Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, said the scheme was divisive and could create tension in the community.

She said: “These adverts are nothing less than straight forward intimidation and can only have bad consequences for communities like those I represent in Brent, where people from all faiths and races have mixed for decades. We will all be much poorer for it.

“This is the latest in a string of Home Office announcements that are designed to make the Government look tough on immigration. But I fear that the only impact this deeply divisive form of politics will have will be to create tension and mistrust towards anyone who looks and sounds foreign.

Most Read

“Instead of trying to grab cheap headlines, the Government would be much better advised to tackle the real issues that undermine confidence in the immigration system. Home Office statistics show that decision making by officials is extremely poor and leads to a quarter of initial decisions to refuse asylum being overturned on appeal.”

Echoing Ms Teather’s concerns Cllr Muhammad Butt, Labour leader of Brent Council, told the Times the idea was ‘ill-conceived’ and could drive illegal immigrants underground.

He said: “The basic premise from the government seems to be that Brent has a high immigrant population so there must be illegal Immigrants there.

“Threatening language will force people underground and they will be exploited and my concerns are for the most vulnerable women and children that could be impacted.

“The likelihood is that our communities will be pitted against each other creating a climate of fear.”

The billboards will also be driven through Barnet, Barking and Dagenham, Ealing, Hounslow, and Redbridge.

All six boroughs are being targeted by the government as they are believed to have the highest number of visa ‘overstayers’.

The vans will also bear the message ‘Text HOME to 78070 for free advice, and help with travel documents’.

Mark Harper, Immigration Minister, said: “We are making it more difficult for people to live and work in the UK illegally,” he said.

“But there is an alternative to being led away in handcuffs. Help and advice can be provided to those who cooperate and return home voluntarily.”