"Go Home" UK texts illegal immigrants

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    Oct 19, 2013 11:46 PM GMT
    Oh the horror! RJ lefties must be having a collective heart attack! Especially the UK folks who always have helpful insights into the US.

    How can the UK do this? So cruel......so illegal........so racist! The world is watching and shaking its collective head.


    Oct. 18, 2013 12:37 p.m. ET
    LONDON—The British government said Friday that it was considering whether to broaden an anti-illegal immigration campaign, which was criticized for being offensive.

    Earlier this year, in an initial weeklong trial the government deployed two vans to drive around six areas of London for a week carrying a large billboard with the message "In the U.K. illegally? Go home or face arrest" in an effort to convince illegal immigrants to return to their home country voluntarily.

    The campaign stirred up a wave of opposition, with critics—including human rights groups and the main opposition Labour Party—saying at the time the "go home" language echoed the racist slogans of the British ultranationalist National Front group of the 1970s.

    The government said Friday it was assessing the results off the pilot scheme and could deploy similar vans in other areas of the country if it was deemed to be successful.

    It also defended its strategy of contacting foreign nationals suspected of being in the country illegally by mobile phone text message or email. Out of 58,800 people contacted between December and June, it had received 143 complaints of which 14 were found to be from people who received the message in error, it said.

    Immigration has surged from the late 1990s onward, particularly following the European Union's 2004 enlargement as many Eastern Europeans came to the U.K. to seek jobs. During the recent recession, concern about the scale of immigration returned to the fore in British political debate as jobs became scarce and the issue of access to state benefits for foreigners become a hot-button topic, with pressure growing on the government to limit new immigrant arrivals.

    The issue has also come into renewed focus in other parts of Europe, after 364 African migrants died Oct. 3 when their boat caught fire, capsized, and sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party has pledged to reduce annual net migration to the tens of thousands from more than 200,000 in recent years, but some of the methods have drawn criticism—including from the coalition Liberal Democrats—for being offensive, ineffective, and damaging to tourism and universities.

    Commentators have also said Mr. Cameron's tougher line is being driven in part by a desire to counter the small U.K. Independence Party, with its anti-European Union and immigration stance. Support for UKIP threatens to split the right-wing vote for the first time in decades and would make it much harder for the Conservatives to win the next general election due in 2015.

    In the government's July public campaign, the van billboards provided contact details for people to get advice. However, they also displayed an image of handcuffs and the number of arrests made the previous week in the area, which the country's advertising watchdog earlier this month said was misleading and banned the adverts.

    Business Secretary Vince Cable, a senior member of the Liberal Democrats, who said they weren't consulted before the Home Office launched the pilot, said the adverts were stupid and offensive.

    Immigration minister Mark Harper defended the government campaign and said it could be rolled out to other areas if the message was effective. The Home Office said it was evaluating the results of the campaign, and declined to give details of what the response had been.

    "I don't see any problem with saying to people who have no right to be in the United Kingdom they can't be here anymore," Mr. Harper said during a weekly television political debate show Thursday.

    In a sign the government was sensitive to the possibility of offense even before it launched the vans initiative, the Home Office had softened the tone of its texts message campaign earlier in the year.

    U.K. firm PLC, which was contracted by the government to send the messages, said the messages initially read: "You are required to leave the U.K. as you no longer have the right to remain." The Home Office said the message was changed in January to "Our records show that you may not have leave to remain in the U.K."

    The Labour Party said the text message campaign showed the government's border police was shambolic and incompetent.

    "Yet again, like the offensive and inappropriate ad vans, the government will be using taxpayer's hard-earned money to offend and alienate its own citizens," David Hanson, Labour's immigration spokesman, said in a statement.

    The Home Office defended the texts campaign and said only a small number of recipients had been found to have the right to be in the U.K. It also denied reports it had sent the initial text message in error to an antiracism campaigner and an immigration adviser at a law firm, both of whom have the right to be in Britain.

    "We are taking proactive steps to contact individuals who records show have no valid right to be in the U.K., some of which date back to December 2008. We believe it is right to enforce the immigration rules," a Home Office spokesman said.
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    Oct 21, 2013 12:16 AM GMT
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    Oct 22, 2013 9:51 PM GMT
    MisterOrally saidWow!

    Yup. You would think a few from the UK who are always willing to offer their insights into the US might have something to say about this.