"Don't enforce the existing law, pass some new ones."
The Home Secretary has always had the power to deport foreign nationals whose presence is not considered to be in the public interest. He's just not used it.
I wrote a while back that I didn't see why any foreign national guilty of more than a traffic offence shouldn't be deported. I must admit I was surprised to find Charles Clarke agreeing.
Mr Clarke said among his proposals to sort out the problem of removing foreign criminals was the "guiding principle that foreign nationals guilty of criminality should expect to be deported".
If I thought for one moment that that was what would actually happen, I'd be very pleased. There's not a cat in hell's chance.
I'll be surprised if many Labour MPs support it. They're just keeping their heads down until the council elections are over. Can you see Jeremy Corbyn and the awkward squad lining up in the lobbies ?
It'll be fought in the courts by 'civil liberties' groups. Yesterday Shami Chakrabarti, who spends more time in the Today studio than in her own office, raised the spectre (RealAudio) of the 'starving asylum seeker who steals a loaf of bread'.
The papers are full of such cases.
"The only gunman to survive the 1980 Iranian embassy siege in London may be freed from prison and granted asylum in the UK, BBC News has learned."
It won't be implemented at ground level by police, prison or Home Office staff for whom an accusation of racism is professional death. Look at the proposals :
"Data that identifies individuals as foreign nationals must be "captured" at the beginning of the criminal justice system including at the point of arrest and as the case proceeds through the courts"
And this will be done by ... ?
You've got two options whan someone's arrested. You can try to make ALL prisoners prove their nationality - in which case remand places will need to be quintupled while Dave Smith from Romford and Jamal Al-Hadji are banged up together, awaiting the arrival of the birth certificates. Or you can use your skill and judgement ... how ?
Fifty years ago it would have been easy. A dark skin or a strange accent. Now there are millions of UK citizens with both. Do I hear a cry of 'racial profiling' ? There'd still be lots of people (though not so many) banged up awaiting the birth certificates - but black or Asian Brits would be over-represented. I can just see the Met and the Chief Constables going big for this one.
Sanctions should be available at all stages to use against individuals who give false information on nationality or no information at all.
Those sanctions being ... ? I can just see the Indie front page now as poor Lemba gets here only to be banged up.
And in the end, no-one will be interested in enforcing it. Part of getting on in an organisation is knowing what the superiors really care about and what gets lip service. Anyone at a low level who genuinely took this seriously would find it a career-threatening move.
No, it's another crackdown. One of the worst features of this administration is that the law has become just another signifier, a form of advertising. These proposals aren't there to address the problems of foreign criminals preying on the citizens of the UK. They're there to address the political problem of a (correct) public perception that the administration in general, and Mr Clarke in particular, couldn't organise a drinks party in a Majestic Wine Warehouse.