“The suggestion that Redbridge is home to thousands of illegal immigrants is simply untrue.
It is unfortunate that in trying to promote their service, M. K. Suri appears to have started a discussion that has sadly developed into the usual cliche hysteria about immigration (Recorder, last week).
The government has introduced what it calls a points-based system which means that only those who have the skills that are needed by the UK labour market are let in. Such individuals are not illegal, they are here, they cannot claim benefits or housing, they take nothing.
Even asylum seekers are not housed in Redbridge. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work, in many cases they cannot study, and they most definitely cannot claim benefits. So how do they survive?
They are dependent on the handouts of charities like ours, should we really in this day and age be providing in excess of 50 food parcels a week? Paid for out of the generosity of local churches, not by taxpayers.
The government does provide those who have stated they wish to claim asylum a subsistence allowance of £35.52 per week, which is 70 percent below the poverty line. And that is it – no freedom pass, no special treatments, no access to college and no right to work. I defy anyone to live like that for 11 years. It is not illegal to claim asylum.
As the ninth most diverse borough in the country, Redbridge should pride itself on being a place where people feel not only comfotable and wish to settle, but also a place where people can and want to make a positive contribution. Redbridge schools and hospitals are full of people here legally and making the lives of all our communities better.
During Refugee Week, we would ask people to take a moment to look at the reality of the situation, rather than believe the half-truths peddled by a few misinformed individuals.”
I think the middle bit was got at by an editor on glue but I transcribed it faithfully because it’s a good and necessary letter.