I’m a British citizen, and have lived here all my life, but I’m also the first male member of my family not to be forced to leave his home in several generations. My father and grandfather left France in 1940; my great grandfather left Berlin; my great-great grandfather left Posen/Poznan, now in Poland. Like many second generation immigrants, I was raised in the expectation that the time could come when I’d have to leave, too. It’s a tribute to British tolerance that the occasion hasn’t arisen.
That makes it all the more distressing to see the British government engage directly in actions designed to shake the security of any immigrant. One aspect has been the vans going round London, threatening illegal immigrants with deportation. (Yougov reports that 61% of the population think that this is not racist.) Another has been the process of ‘spot checks‘ by stopping people who look ‘foreign’ and demanding papers.
There are, of course, more efficient ways of checking status than spot checks and advertisements. The government could get people to wear a visible external symbol, in a nice bright colour, so that checks could be done at sight. It might even encourage some of them to leave the country. And I’d probably want to go too.