“Now a new king arose over Egypt… He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase… Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built cities… for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.” (Exodus 1:8-12)
These words, central to our recent Passover celebration, came to mind while I was thinking about the British immigration policies. I can’t figure out whether the UK is the most xenophobic country I’ve ever lived in, or whether it just acts like it. On the one hand, the UK has a well-deserved reputation as a sanctuary for the persecuted and would-be persecutors temporarily out of office. On the other hand, UK politicians, who (one presumes) know better, seem to cheer themselves up when they’re feeling blue by attacking immigrants, either directly or (more commonly) by insinuation. The same is true for pillars of society like the BBC. Immigrants are corroding the fabric of society, hence the need for ever-mounting restrictions. They are unleashing a crime wave on peace-loving Britons (at about the same rate per capita as the native hoodlums, but at least you understand what a British thug is screaming while he kicks your head in, or at least, you could if he weren’t so drunk). (Who trusts pointy-headed statistics anyway?) And, worst of all, after they’ve sneaked in here with their legal chicanery, following their perverse urges to clean our toilets and mop up bodily fluids in NHS hospitals, they’re breeding. That’s right, the same Polish nurses who are keeping the NHS maternity wards from dissolving into a mass of MAR, are now bringing those wards to the point of collapse by having babies themselves.* And there’s nothing we can do about it! Or so one would have thought…
The Home Office is on the case, to keep London from drowning in curry-stained nappies. (It won’t keep out the kielbasa-chomping hordes, alas, because European law undermines UK sovereignty guarantees basic human and economic rights to EU citizens.)
One little-known discrimination against foreigners in the UK is the prohibition on foreigners marrying in the UK without express permission from the Home Office. Most countries apply mild to severe sanctions on couples who cohabitate without marrying. More progressive regimes in the west have tended toward equalisation of treatment, recognising the de facto family arrangements above the legalistic definitions of marriage. (Canada is among the more extreme, recognising essentially no distinction between married and cohabiting (called “common law married”) couples.) The UK combines unusually strong sanctions against unmarried couples — no pensions or inheritance rights, and unmarried fathers have no automatic parental rights — with unusually high hurdles to marriage. Particularly for foreigners. If you are not a legal permanent resident of the UK (“indefinite leave to remain” is the technical term) The current price for a “Certificate of Approval” is £295, and if your betrothed is also un-British he or she (make sure to pick the right one!) will also pay £295. Then you get to wait for “20 to 70 business days”. The details are available here. The High Court in London declared the law in violation of The European Convention on Human Rights, but for your average red-blooded UK politician Human Rights are only challenges to be overcome. (Start going down the path of Human Rights, and next thing you know the tumbrils are rolling…) There seem to have been some changes — for instance, removing a bizarre provision that excluded Church of England weddings from the CoA requirement. But simply allowing people to marry without government approval is not something the government is willing to countenance. (Do the British require a financial incentive to marry compatriots, rather than throwing themselves at foreigners? There might be a secret study lurking behind the policy.)
Of course, biology is a stubborn thing, so the marriage ban may not actually stop the foreigners from multiplying and spreading. But that’s a matter to take up after the next election.
*”The NHS is spending £350m a year to provide maternity services for foreign-born mothers,” writes the BBC. Funny that they don’t mention that the UK was, until a few years ago, a net exporter of population, and even now the balance is fairly close. Instead of this headline they might with equal justice have remarked that the emigration of British women of childbearing age “is saving the NHS £200m a year, that they would otherwise have spent when those women gave birth in Britain.” But it’s a common fallacy, to count the costs you incur, because they are present and salient, and not the costs you avoid, which are, by definition, absent. Recently, an MP spoke in the Commons to accuse the BBC of fomenting violence against Poles.