Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:48 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing) 7:48 pm, 30th January 2017

I thank my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband and Nadhim Zahawi for securing the debate. We have heard some excellent speeches.

I shall keep my own speech short, I promise, but I want to begin with the timely words of the rather exceptional Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust. She said:

“We’ve spent the past week remembering the Holocaust, reminding ourselves where hatred leads, that words matter, that we cannot stand by. As we see injustice and witness prejudice and discrimination, we should not only feel confident to, but a duty to speak out.”

As Ms Pollock would tell us, the holocaust started with words of hatred and built from there. President Trump has a history of Islamophobic rhetoric. In 2010, he implied that Muslims were a threat to the security of his country and had a collective responsibility for the 2001 World Trade Centre attack. In 2012, he said that the world had a “Muslim problem.” In March last year, he said:

“I think Islam hates us.”

He has spoken approvingly of blanket surveillance of all Muslims and the idea of a registry of Muslims in his country. There are chilling similarities here with the Judenkartei: first words, and now actions.

In recent days, we have seen the attempt to put into place the ban on Muslim movement into the US. This is part of an initial package of measures designed to restrict the freedoms of migrants, and—let us face it—to demonise them. There is an escalating pattern of deeply unjust and very worrying behaviour, and it is clear from this debate that many hon. Members share my concern about where it might lead.

Trump’s behaviour does not only affect US residents; it is a matter of justice, security, and basic dignity, for people here at home. Like many of my colleagues in this House, I am sure, I have received lots of messages from constituents worried that their ability to travel to the US will now be curtailed. If only it was only that, because these words and actions have had a much greater effect: they fuel fear, and provide perceived permission to acts of hatred. Global media coverage extends their reach; they simply cannot be contained.

We must stand up, with a clarity of purpose and in solidarity, in condemnation of these actions and the ideas that underlie them. They are already harming innocent people around the world, whether directly or indirectly by encouraging hatred, but I worry that they could do so more. They reflect, in their beginnings, the injustices that so many of us recently remembered and recommitted to prevent.