Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The UK--a land of opportunity?--not if you are an illegal immigrant!

This morning I watched with sadness a programme on BBC TV. The subject was the plight of many Indians who had been supped into paying large sums of money to agents (their own people) to assist in getting them to the UK. These unsuspecting people were promised the good life in the UK but most have fallen into desperate situations, living in ‘sheds to sleep’ or sometimes under bridges,

The promised employment generally does not exists and at best the ‘workers’ could only find a few days work a month. Their relations back in India had raised the money to pay the agents and had expected the men to pay back those loans and send money back home. The conditions the men were living in are often worse than the homes they left behind.

The UK has always been a land of opportunity to influxes of new arrival’s, going way back to the Roman occupation. These groups have stayed and become part of the general population. London of course has acted as a magnet to many groups as a starting point. What is that is different about the new illegal arrivals?

For a start, they have to hide; having no voice to vent their frustrations at the position they find themselves in. If they complained they risk been sent back, hence they are able to be easily exploited for less than legal wages and conditions. That they are being ripped off by their own people is doubly sad. Once in the UK, they become faceless as they seek to live the false dream. The UK Government has known for many years that this human trafficking has existed, but to date has done little to stem the flow.

Perhaps programmes like that I saw today should be widely circulated in the ‘new India.’ Access to BBC TV is probably fairly widespread, especially amongst the new middle classes. The Indian Government must tell the true story to its people. India itself is fast becoming a land of opportunity, not just to returning Indians but to other nationalities as well.

I know that other people around the world also seek out the British dream and they too fall prey to greedy and criminal groups, but the relationship between the UK and India is one that has existed in various forms for generations. Surely the two governments can cooperate to make the problems described to be dealt with in a humane manner. Ignoring it will only encourage yet more families to part with money they can ill afford; all for a nightmare, not a dream.