1. When mass immigration becomes a problem
Mass immigration becomes a problem during the 1980’S, under the Thatcher era. The racism knew a rise at this period and immigrants were not very welcome.
After the fall of Iron Curtain, the growth of asylum seeker applications contributed to a new growth of immigration to the UK. Between 1998 and2000, some 45,000 people arrived from Africa, 22,700 from the Indian sub-continent, 25,000 from Asia and almost 12,000 from the Americas. Some 125,000 people were allowed to settle in the UK in 2000. But the rise in asylum seeker arrivals has seen a rise in racial tensions.
During Thatcher government, the Tory party began moving to the right for social issues. Thatcher was determinated to keep theimmigration theme at the very centre of political debate. New immigration rules were passed in December 1979 in order to introduce more restrictions on the entry of families. And in January 1981 the Tories passed a new Nationality Act.
Tory MPs were openly racist in parliament. The official racism can be symbolised by Antony Marlow, a Tory MP, who said that racism amongst British people was a“natural instinct.” Then, he proposed numerous “racialist” measures.
Groups like the Monday Club were reactivated by MPs. This pressure-group is notable for having promoted a policy of voluntary, or assisted, repatriation for non-white immigrants.
This shift to the right was also evident in 'academic' circles during the early 1980s with new journals like the Salisbury Review. The racist image ofthe West Indian was now accompanied by that of the 'wily Asian' (=l’Asiatique rusé) in the right wing press. Tory MPs claimed that Indian and Pakistani immigrants were abusing the arranged marriage system and evading the new immigration rules.
Besides, a huge increase in raids carried out by police and immigration officers took place. It created a situation where most Asians and West Indiansfaced little choice but to carry their passport around with them at all times.
Finally, Thatcher's regime saw Britain acquiring one of the worst records in Europe in its treatment of asylum seekers. Between 1984 and 1986 British immigration officers accepted for asylum only 240 for every 1 million of the UK's inhabitant.
2. Main measures under each government
The turning point in theimmigration policy is the Government Thatcher from 1979 to 1990.
Thatcher placed the immigration theme at the very centre of political debate with 2 main laws:
• In 1981 : the Nationality Act establishes stricter control for the access to british nationality. This act is the turning point of the Thatcher immigration policy.
The British Government decided to update the nationality code with 2 mainpurposes :
- Reclassification of United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship into 3 categories : British citizenship / British Dependent Territories citizenship (BDTC) /British Overseas citizenship.
- The Act also modified the application of Jus soli in British nationality. Indeed, before the Act, any person born in Britain was entitled to British Citizenship. After the Act, it was necessary for atleast one parent of a United Kingdom-born child to be a British citizen or "settled" in the United Kingdom. (Now, the vast majority of children born in the United Kingdom still acquire British citizenship at birth.)
• The second main law Thatcher passed was the Immigration Act the tenth on May 1988. This Act amends the Immigration Act 1971 and it is stricter.
Under the Government John Majorfrom 1990 to 1997, the immigration policiy focused on the fight against illegal immigrants.
• He voted in 1996 the Asylum and Immigration Act which limits strictly rights for asylum seekers. This legislation imposes penalties on any employer who employs an illegal worker. He made also a list, the white list, of safe countries from where each asylum demand is automatically rejected.