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Iraqi Association comments

March 2009

Earned Citizenship, a Spasm of Hysteria

Do those who come to live and work in Britain not already "earn" their citizenship by contributing to our economy and obeying the laws of the land? The British government set out moves to introduce an "earned citizenship" system for migrants, and refugees from outside the European Union, those who want to become British. With this new system, it might take 10 years to become a British citizen, which is a quarter of a typical working life. Migrants become easy targets at times of economic difficulty but introducing yet more tough measures to exclude loyal
hardworking people could damage our prospects for economic recovery.

At present, non-EU people are eligible for a passport five years after they arrive in this country. Under the new move, they will have to serve a further probationary period of one to three years, they will also face more tests to prove their worth.

United Kingdom is one of the very few countries who respect human rights and condemned third world dictators for their human rights violations. But look at how the Home Office treating non-European immigrants, whose sin was only to be born in the wrong place on Earth! After all, we don't all need to be alike in order to live together. We just need to respect the principles on which this society is based, such as freedom within the law, equality before the law and tolerance of differences.

The earned citizenship will bread second class citizens, it’s driven by doubt and uncertainty that we, exiles and refugees, are potential benefit-cheats and criminals, rather then overwhelmingly decent, hard-working and law-abiding people who already make - and want to continue to make - a big contribution to British society. That is xenophobic prejudice - and hardly conducive to fostering the sense of British values that the government claims to aspire to.

The former Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart, MP for Slough, warned that the Earned citizenship would damage race relations: "One of the reasons we have such excellent race relations in Britain is because migrants to this country relatively quickly achieve permanent residence, unlike other countries in Europe,"

Making non-EU comers prove their commitment to Britain will do nothing to address divisions in our society, because many of those divisions are only tangentially connected to immigration, if at all. In fact, earned citizenship will disconnect us from this society with a culture of fear and uncertainty which would complicate the process of integration, and further alienate and marginalise exile communities. This move will undoubtedly lead to second class citizens, with barriers of doubts and further isolationism.

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