As the Home Office steps up it’s campaign to rout illegal immigrants, campaigners queue up to criticise the government’s strategy.

Last month the Home Office started a visual campaign to encourage illegal immigrants to give themselves up to the authorities and be sent home. The methods used were a number of hoardings placed on the back of lorries and driven through particularly high profile immigrant areas. The campaign was then stepped up with immigration and police officers staging a speculative stop and search operation at various railway stations. The Immigration Minister, Mark Harper has vigorously defended the actions that have been dubbed racist by many individuals and organisations. He says that “It is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain. It is merely telling them to comply with the law. By no stretch of the rational imagination can it be described as ‘racist’.” Many MPs and the human rights organisation, Liberty say that the Minister is misguided and challenge him to differentiate between the Home Office actions to those deployed by the National Front and other right wing organisations. They argue that few people would object to fair immigration rules when ‘proportionately’ enforced but find these methods to be fuelling fear and intimidating vulnerable communities. There is even a discussion as to whether the strategy is legal. Liberty doubts the Home Office’s legal authority to conduct these ‘fishing’ expeditions which, they claim, are a blatant display of racial profiling. Liberty have deployed their own lorries carrying signs denouncing the Home Office campaign.

It is interesting that even the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, not usually one to hold back on initiatives to reduce immigration, has described the government’s strategy as “nasty”. He adds that this method of publicity will be taken by minority, legal immigration groups as ”some sort of sign of open warfare”

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