Around 150 demonstrators marched through Hull this week to protest against Home Office pressure on local factories to sack Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers.
Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers have been living in Hull since the beginning of the decade and, although most have had their asylum applications refused, many have built new lives for themselves in the city by working in local factories. Now the Home Office has reportedly contacted local employers, warning them that Iraqi Kurds are working illegally. As a result, hundreds of asylum seekers, who have paid taxes while working in the UK, are no longer able to work. As they are not entitled to benefits, they face destitution.
The demonstration, which was held on Saturday 22 July 2006, was organised by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR).
IFIR believes that the clampdown is part of the Home Office’s attempt to drive Iraqis into returning to Iraq through the so-called voluntary returns programme. It is thought that local employers will now turn to recruiting migrant workers from eastern European Union countries.
A review of immigration policy published this week by the Home Office indicates that those found employing workers without permission to work will face increased fines and possible seizure of their assets. In addition, members of the public are being encouraged to inform Crimestoppers of offending employers.
Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, warned that: ‘Already we are seeing employers jump before they are pushed, sacking or harassing workers who because of their nationality or the colour of their skin, employers fear, often mistakenly, may not be eligible to work in the UK.’