Author: Mhairi Black
AS time goes on and we continue to witness Trumpmania, it is easy to become desensitised to things that were viewed as shocking not so long ago. In the context of a president who described neo-Nazis as “very fine people” and managed to stay in the job, it should come as no surprise that immigrants are being treated abhorrently in the US. However, the policy of separating children from their families and shoving them in cages is one that truly shocked me.
That same president that introduced that policy will be visiting the UK in the near future, and apparently has plans to visit Scotland during his stay. It seems that he is expecting a warm welcome along the way, but I am absolutely certain that will not be the case. Huge protests are expected throughout London (and seemingly everywhere else he intends to stop by) and, interestingly, some activists are planning to fly a giant balloon of “baby Trump” around London when he arrives.
It is normal for the leaders of ally countries to visit the UK, but this Government’s insistence on getting Donald Trump here has been curious at best. We should not forget that almost as soon as Donald Trump was sworn into office, the Prime Minister hopped on a plane to visit him and offered a state visit in return. The plans were pushed back and back, seemingly in fear of mass protest, but I guess it has been decided that the protests will go ahead no matter how long they postpone.
It boggles my mind that a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women; who tried to ban trans people from serving in the US military; who called Mexicans rapists; introduced a policy which saw children ripped away from their families; called majority black countries “shitholes”, and implemented the Muslim ban, could be invited so enthusiastically to the UK. But then again, this is the Government of Brexit and the “hostile environment” policy, so maybe it’s not so strange after all.
My colleague and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford made this point very eloquently during a recent Prime Minister’s Questions.
He said: “But then, on immigration, while the US administration calls it ‘a zero-tolerance policy’ the Prime Minister calls it a ‘hostile environment’.
“We know this UK Government detains children in detention centres here in the UK. It is worth noting that the UK is the only EU country to detain people indefinitely.
“We need for a move away from routine use of immigration detention to instead make it a rare exception, rather than almost the norm. The UK Government needs a new approach which priorities compassion and fairness over punishment and isolation.”
The hostile environment policy has caused so much hurt for so many families. While it is welcome that Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the policy will be reviewed, you have to wonder how much real change will come from a Government who so enthusiastically invites a US president, who rips children from their parents and places them in cages, to visit.
There is a human and economic cost to these cruel, ideologically based policies. The Scottish economy thrives with positive immigration. The Tories are set on their hard-Brexit path, refusing to consider the needs of Scotland, and dragging us out of the customs union and the single market. With the freedom of trade that comes with single market membership, also comes freedom of movement. EU citizens migrate to this country and work alongside us to build a better Scotland, and it is senseless for us to be leaving and making that migration more difficult.