Back in June, and at the last moment, David Blunkett inserted a clause into the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act.
The clause makes accommodation for a failed asylum seeker conditional on she or he undertaking "community service".
There are many "failed asylum seekers" in the system — many of them have indeed come from dangerous countries, but still have not got asylum, because they have fallen foul of bureaucratic regulations.
Normally they are deported. Sometimes they can't be because they are stateless, or ill, or the country of return is too dangerous.
Blunkett's amendment says that in those cases they will be homeless unless they do forced labour for the government.
Obligatory community service is normally only required of convicted criminals. Maybe in David Blunkett's eyes that is what failed asylum seekers are.
In the proposed legislation local authorities are to collude in the implementation of the forced labour scheme.
This move to transform into slaves one of the most vulnerable and abused sections of our communities is simply the logical conclusion of the super-exploitation of migrants, immigrants and refugees — a super exploitation that resulted in the deaths at Morecambe of the Chinese cockle-pickers.
We should demand that benefits be made available to all, irrespective of immigration status — and that asylum seekers should have the choice to work.
Local trade union branches should lobby local authorities to refuse to cooperate.
If you are interested in getting involved in a campaign on this issue, get in touch with Solidarity on 020 7207 3997.
Naseh Ghafor must stay!
Naseh Ghafor, a 20-year-old Iraqi man, is still fighting for the right to stay in Britain after finishing a 44-day hunger strike.
Naseh, who had been a shepherd, came to the UK after his father was murdered and his mother and sisters "disappeared" in northern Iraq during the process of "Arabisation". He is living in Sheffield on a friend's floor. All financial support has also been withdrawn. Naseh is terrified that he will be sent back to Iraq where he has no family and violence continues.
Naseh's supporters are calling for the Home Office to consider his new asylum application for temporary humanitarian protection and for all Iraqi asylum seekers to be given some minimum form of official protection in the UK. Campaigners are also calling for the right to work for all failed asylum seekers in limbo who cannot return.
More information: 07787 146 690 or http://naseh/burngreave.net.
By Gerry Bates