If Theresa May wants equality, she must undo her own toxic immigration legacy

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 10 October 2017

Today the Government launched a new website to house the results of a UK-wide audit on race equality.

These ethnicity facts and figures reveal the injustice lying beneath decades of apparent progress.

If you are black, you’re less likely to own your own home, less likely to be employed – especially if you live in the North – and far more likely to be stopped and search by police.

If you are Roma, your child is likely to do less well in school and less likely to stay in education after 16.

The highest rates of persistent low income were found in households headed by people from black, Asian or other minority ethnic groups. 

Addressing today’s results, the Prime Minister warned that the Government, business, police and other institutions will have "nowhere to hide" – they must “explain or change”.

But if she really wants to usher in a new era of fairness and equality, she must urgently reconsider a stream of toxic immigration policy which has opened the door to discrimination in every area of our society.

Discriminatory fallout

Home Office Border Schools

Theresa May’s self-styled “hostile environment” has seen police, medical professionals, teachers and private citizens tasked with in-country border control.

And the discriminatory fallout is already becoming clear.

Three separate studies – including one from the Home Office – have found evidence of discrimination in a scheme which obliges private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.

Today’s ethnicity statistics reveal that – across all socio-economic groups, regions of the country, age groups and most income bands – people from ethnic minorities are more likely to rent privately than their white British counterparts.

This makes policies which encourage discrimination in the private rental sector particularly dangerous.

Police-community relations

Today’s figures also serve as a sobering reminder of the perilous state of police-community relations.

In every one of the last three years, people of black Caribbean ethnicity had less confidence in the police than white British people.

We know that black drivers are up to twice as likely to be stopped by police as their white counterparts and – as revealed by today’s statistics – six times more likely to be stopped and searched.

Yet indications are that forces intend to mainstream the use of immigration searches in traffic policing to meet the demands of new immigration laws pushed through by Theresa May during her time in the Home Office.

Race equality campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence and the National Black Police Association have warned that the move risks increasing discrimination and damaging police-community relations.

Talk of a zero-tolerance approach to inequality is welcome, but Theresa May must start by taking an honest look at the impact of her own toxic immigration legacy.

Immigration policy does not operate in a vacuum – and the cost is too high when a hostile environment for migrants comes at the price of equality and fairness for Britain.

Liberty is campaigning to dismantle discriminatory hostile environment policies. Join us to help today.


Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Policy and Advocacy Manager