There is no ignoring the rising tide of headlines putting immigration at the top of the news agenda. On the one hand, the re-election of a government determined to cut migration to the UK to the ‘tens of thousands’ ensures the issue will not be allowed to subside. Being tough on immigration - much like being tough on crime - is presented as an electoral no-brainer. On the other hand, the tragic events unfolding daily across Southern Europe and the Mediterranean make the issue impossible to ignore.
A question of language
As ever, the language used by those in authority to frame these issues is telling. Any sympathy that might extend from the evident suffering of those on our TV screens is being systematically removed from the process of moving to the UK.
The scrapping of the appeals process for those seeking work in the UK and its replacement with the entirely bureaucratic administrative review is a perfect case in point. Appeal, for all its legal definition, is an emotionally laden term. People make appeals and they invariably do so from a position of relative weakness. Those are people we can feel something for. That is why appeal is a headline writer’s dream. Conversely, administrative review is the sort of expression guaranteed to deaden the senses. It connotes simply a depersonalised and entirely empathy-free process.
A wider concern
Irrespective of the practicalities of the curtailed timescales which the new system enforces (just 14 days for in-country appellants), the dehumanising language which David Cameron’s government is adopting is seen by many as deeply unsavoury.
From a legal standpoint such issues are largely academic. The language involved may change but it is the mechanics of the process - however configured - that is our concern. For those who are struggling to claim the right to work in the UK, however, that change in linguistic tone is not good news.