When Miriam met Maria


Miriam and Maria met at the little cafe in town last week to catch up on kids, home, work, life when, empty cups on the table, for some reason Maria remembered:

“So annoying, I keep forgetting! I’ve got to contact my new tenant to make sure she’s allowed to stay in the UK. Am sure she is, but I need…
“What do you mean?” interrupted Miriam, raising her voice slightly, eyes wide open, staring at her friend.
“Well, you know, landlords, and hospital staff, and employers, they have to make sure that their tenants or employees or patients, or whatever, have a right to be in the UK. That’s the law.”

“Fuck that!” replied Miriam, top of her voice, people on nearby tables starring at the two middle aged women and their empty coffee cups, wondering what that fuck was all about. How rude.
“I’m not checking on my tenants, they’ve been living in my house for 10 years. Bloody hell. Big Brother. No way. I’m sure as hell not doing that.”

“Yeah, well, I know” Maria tried to take the conversation back down to accepted British middle class voice level standards in public places when drinking coffee rather than wine. “It stinks. But the thing is, I’m foreign, so, if I get caught with illegal migrants in my flat, then I get in trouble with the law, then I become a criminal, then I don’t know if they’ll grant me that bloody Settled Status card thing I’m supposed to get at some point, if they ever get their act together. It’s bonkers, I know, but it’s not much of a choice for me, is it?”. 

“I’m not doing it” insisted Miriam, no longer bellowing but still looking Maria in the eye, her eyebrows raising in unison, her chin travelling towards her chest.
“I hear you, but you’re British, they can’t kick you out, they can make your life difficult, they can fine you or whatever, but they’re bound to make it even more miserable for foreigners, aren’t they ? Windrush ? Mmmm. See what I mean ? We depend on Home Office to grant us the damn status to stay in the first place. So, yeah. Choice.”
It was Maria’s turn to speak loud enough for neigbours to hear, hoping some might actually listen, and who knows, even maybe understand.

The nation from the right to the left said “too small a house for so many people, we’re bursting”. The will of the people. 

From the Left that open the doors wide to the Right that promised to reduce the numbers when people grumbled and voted for UKIP in droves, the British immigration story is one of numbers we do not know as a base, and targets we cannot achieve as a goal. Left and Right failed over decades to put in place a system that registers all immigrants in one place. There may be one million illegal people in the UK, could be two, could be 250,000. 

Who knows without an effective registration system ? 

The other will of the people, it seems, is that there should be no ID card for all in the UK, no central database that lets government know too much about us. What could seem legitimate in the 20th century seems less so today, when we give so much personal information, willingly or not, to private companies that definitely do not serve us. When we do not trust central government to have us all registered in one data base, we effectively push Home Office to find another solution. 

What effective ways are there to reduce the numbers, if targets are to be scrapped and a central data base a voters’ turn off ? 

For now we are kicking a few people out, refusing them jobs, homes or health care, putting some in detention centres, but we still don’t have a way to know how many potential criminal foreigners are on our soil, if they work cash in hand, find a willing landlord, don’t go to the hospital when they are sick. If we all have an ID, we can all show it to the new employer, landlord, nurse. Criminals will forge ID’s, that’s a matter for trained forces. If real criminals know how to fall through the net, how helpful is it to brand all foreigners potential criminals that must prove they are innocent ? 

Had we had ID’s for all, Windrush would not have happened.  

Instead, what we do have is a snitch law. Is this the best system the UK can devise ? 

It is it the cheapest.  

What will the Immigration Bill look like when it finally gets published ? 

Is the government waiting for feedback on how we, as a nation, move forward ? 

I’d guess so, it’s a pickle all round to have any idea what the nation wants, only the loud bullies seem to get heard these days. No wonder we end up with a snitch law, suits the bullies to get their way, sod the consequences. Is that what the real majority of British people want ? I’d guess not. Then again, am not British, so I could well be wrong.  

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Author: natamagat

Random thoughts from a French incomer in rural England. Interested in the love/hate relationship between the English and the French (unavoidable), community matters (they affect us whatever nationality), tourism (my original career with an MA in Tourism albeit a French one), photography (images speak a thousand words, although only the good ones), and words (mostly English words with a few French ones thrown in) Pardon my Franglais if you will.

One thought on “When Miriam met Maria”

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