Africans as well as Asians in the UK have criticised the “Go Home” campaign targeted at illegal immigrants living in Britain.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the British government has embarked on a campaign to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the UK as tough immigration laws are being proposed.
NAN investigation revealed that many immigrants, who have overstayed in the country, have received text messages from the UK Home Office advising them to leave the country.
Part of the message which was sent to over 58,000 people read: “You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the rights to remain.’’
Similarly , “Go Home or Face Arrest” posters are on display in public utilities as well as on taxis and buses, although the Advertising Standards Authority said it had banned the posters, as they had misled the public on arrest statistics displayed.
Reacting to the development, Mr Bimbo Folayan, President of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK) said, “racist elements could high jack the campaign by targeting a certain group of people.
“We are not happy about the campaign as it could be misinterpreted by racist elements. The British government would do better by adopting a more effective means to check the borders and stop illegal immigration to the UK.
“But moving around with vans and asking people to go back home is wrong, as the wrong people would be harassed. We have expressed our displeasure to the Nigerian High Commission and the British government,’’ he stressed.
Folayan said that CANUK on its part had been encouraging Nigerians living in the UK illegally to regularise their documents to ensure proper resident status.
“We have sensitised Nigerians within the community to either regularise their stay in Britain or embrace the Assisted Voluntary Return Scheme and where they can’t access the scheme they should find a way to go back home,” he added.
According to him, it has become very difficult to live in the UK now especially with job cuts.
Other immigrants in the UK, mostly Ghanaians, Pakistanis and other nationals mostly from Commonwealth nations, who spoke to NAN in London also expressed concern over the “Return Home campaign’’.
A Ghanaian entrepreneur, Mr Joe Kwekwu, said that even immigrants with proper documentation stand the risk of being harassed, “as hooligans now key into the campaign to perpetrate hate crime’’.
Reports in the British media say more than 4,160 people had left the UK following the campaign.