Pollokshields – These are our neighbours

It was impossible not to be moved by people standing around an immigration enforcement van in Pollokshields yesterday chanting “These are our neighbours, let them go”. Many people today are proud of those in this city who stopped this enforcement action.

Every country needs to have an immigration system and every immigration system needs to be enforced in some way. Every such system needs to be fair and just. However the immigration system in this country has ceased to be fair and has ceased to be just. Any government that actively seeks to be hostile to those seeking asylum has already failed the test of being fair and just. The immigration system in this country has not only become hostile to refugees but the government has recently announced plans to make it even more hostile and to limit the possibility of appealing to the Supreme Court in asylum cases.

Every asylum seeker needs access to justice in order that the system itself can be seen to be fair.

Yesterday, the people of Pollokshields came out onto the streets because they believed that what was being done in their name was not fair. With an aggresively hostile system in place as a policy, it is impossible to be sure that any asylum decision is fair.

The police made a wise call yesterday not to try to clear the street and the two men detailed were set free into the community.

We need a fair asylum system.  Without a fair asylum system, there will increasingly be successful protests by citizens who will prevent the authorities from being able to act.

If the government believes it can appeal to voters by making an already hostile asylum system even more hostile, the people in the streets of Pollokshields showed yesterday that at least in some places, that policy will fail.