IMG_9097The organisations and institutions, led by the Indian Workers’ Association GB, Broad Front of Asian Organisation and the Campaign Against Racist Laws, collected over 20,000 signatures opposing the introduction of the visa “bond” scheme. The large proportion of these were delivered to the Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May at 10 Downing Street today. If the proposals were to go ahead (slated for 1st November 2013) visitors from the six former British colonies, members of the commonwealth, will be expected to deposit £3000.00 per person, based on an assessment of an Entry Clearance Officer. The six countries consist of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria.

The opposition to the introduction of visa bonds has created outrage among members of the Indian community in Britain and the Government of India. These grievances, the anguish of hurt and disappointment were aired at a meeting facilitated and chaired by the Rt. Honourable MP for Southall Ealing Virendra Sharma MP in the House of Commons today. Virendra Sharma expressed his empathy with the petitioners, recognising the massive contribution by migrants in securing employment and economic vibrancy for his constituency.

In a noteworthy presentation a guest entrepreneur Shishir Bajoria highlighted the jobs creation by Indian Industrial houses in Britain. A fact acknowledged by Prime Minister David Cameron during his visits to India. He also exposed the double standards being applied; that when the need was there than India as part of BRICS was invited as an additional member to the G8 before making it a permanent member of G20. This was done with the specific intention of reviving the western economies following the financial meltdown of 2008. Yet when it comes to movement of people and an equitable treatment of dignity and respect its people are confronted with visa bonds.

The meeting and the deposition of the petition coincided with the introduction of the Immigration Bill by Theresa May today. From the initial press reports, the bill will further attempt to curtail, restrict and criminalise association with immigrants, who could be deemed illegal due to process or lack of documentation. The Bill seeks to place extra pressure on the NHS, landlords, driver licensing and employers to determine an individual’s immigration status before providing a service. This could have catastrophic results for black and minority ethnic communities.

IMG-20130929-00264Other issues affecting migrant communities, like the retrospective legislation impacting highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs, students, financial requirement for spouses and the withdrawal of the appeal system were also illustrated as examples of ongoing discrimination. Over the last few months it has become increasingly clear that the Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition is competing with UKIP to gain votes from people suffering under the austerity measures. Just like the 1960’ and 70’s immigrants are again being made scape goats for all economic failures.

Virendra Sharma MP, the patron of the petition accompanied; Harsev Bains, Sohan Sandhu, Abdul Hamid Malik, Gurdev Singh Chohan, Dyal Bagri and Joginder Bains to present the petition to the Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

The representatives are hopeful that the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and members of the Cabinet will take serious note and act on the widespread opposition to the imposition of the visa “bonds”. However the representatives present today have vowed not to be complacent and to maintain the pressure against discriminatory legislation and the withdrawal of the visa “bond” scheme. Further local and national meetings and conventions are likely to be called in the days ahead to broaden the campaign against racist laws. This will be of particular significance in constituencies with sizeable BME communities able and willing to influence electoral outcome.

Harsev Bains
General Secretary, IWA