A LECTURER at University College Cork (UCC) has criticised the UK’s attempts to introduce a points-based immigration system.
The system, which takes different factors like skills and language into account when awarding visas, has caused controversy with some critics claiming it could have a disastrous effect.
Potential migrants to the UK will have to score 70 points on the new system, which looks at income, ‘skilled’ job offers, and language proficiency, in order to qualify for a visa.
Speaking at the recent Conservative Party Annual Conference, British Interior Minister Priti Patel said her mission is to “to end the free movement of people once and for all”.
“Instead,” she added, “we will introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system.
“One that works in the best interests of Britain; one that attracts and welcomes the brightest and the best; one that supports brilliant scientists, the finest academics and leading people in their fields; and one that is under the control of the British Government,” she said.
Ms Patel has since admitted that her own parents, who are immigrants, would not have been allowed to enter the UK under her proposed points system.
Speaking to The Echo, senior lecturer in Contemporary Islam at UCC, Amanullah De Sondy, described the points system as policy-makers in the UK “pulling the ladder up behind them”.
Dr De Sondy, who is an affiliate of the University of Glasgow, grew up in the UK after his parents moved there in the 1960s.
“My parents would not have been able to go to the UK under this new system,” he explained.
“I don’t know where I would be today if that was the case.
“My dad got a high school education and my mum was illiterate,” he added.
“I actually have people come up to me asking were my parents lecturers as well and I say ‘no, my dad had a corner shop for 23 years and my mum was struggling to read’.
“So I’m here reading what these politicians like Priti Patel and others are saying and I think it’s bizarre.
“Now that they’ve all been educated and can speak in this lovely language, they’re saying ‘no more, that’s it’ — it’s ridiculous.
“I’m glad to see that there has been a lot of counter arguing from Scotland, who have put out a very clear message that Scotland is open.
“We can’t allow this narrative from the likes of Priti Patel which claims that this policy represents a British attitude go unchallenged because Britain is made up of different nations with different ideals.”
Dr De Sondy explained he was not surprised to see the points system being proposed in the UK following the Brexit referendum and result.
“I think this was inevitable,” he said.
“It was a big part of the debate formulated to get people to vote leave — the discussion on immigration and having ‘more control’ on the borders — so I’m not really surprised.
“This policy will satisfy people who believe it will return Britain to some imagined view of what it once was,” he added.
“In all honesty, I think people are being delusional because the world has changed.
“The world is a lot smaller now.”
Dr De Sondy explained the policy is hard to take because he knows how hard it was for people in the past, and this new points system will make things more difficult.
“I think it’s quite unfortunate because, being from an immigrant family, I know that it was very hard for people like my parents, Priti Patel’s parents, Sajid Javid’s parents, and many, many more,” he said.
“In Scotland, we have other immigrants and descendants who are high up in politics.
“It’s not helpful to the legacy of our parents when we enable these policies,” he added.
“The first generations that came fought very hard and worked very hard and now, it seems they’re pulling the ladder up behind them.
“It’s a huge shame.”
Dr De Sondy explained that Ireland must learn from this issue and could benefit from it.
“I think that Ireland has a lot to gain with everything that is happening in the world and in the EU,” he said.
“I just hope that our leaders are very, very clear that Ireland is open, Ireland is inclusive, Ireland is diverse, Irish identity is diverse and that we stop putting identities into boxes.
“We need to give platforms and pass the mic to black, Asian minority ethnic groups in all areas of our society,” he added.
“That is happening and I think it might be a painful process for some people who aren’t comfortable with people who don’t look like them.
“I just hope that the harshest way of creating identity in Ireland doesn’t prevail — this idea that people who are black, brown or not Catholic are seen as outsiders — and that we fumble in the dark to find identity features of them.
“That’s what’s happening right now and it’s a shame but I think that will change.”
Dr De Sondy explained it is up to the people to challenge those putting forward ideals against diversity and inclusion.
“We have to continually keep trying to challenge those ideas that don’t enhance our diversity or make things more inclusive,” he said.
“There is a lot of advocacy, grassroot organisations and good politicians that are saying that.
“But we have to make sure that it is clear that this type of points policy is not helpful at all and we have to be careful not to go down that road.”
Dr De Sondy concluded by highlighting the importance of diversity and the positive impact it can have across society.
“Diversity is important for the economy, society and so much more,” he said.
“It makes us enhance and grow, learn from each other.
“There is a lot of political movement that is against this and sadly that type of rhetoric does gain a lot of support.
“We need to challenge it and counter it because we can’t afford to sit on our laurels and think everything is wonderful because things can very quickly deteriorate,” he warned.