13 April 2005

Methodist Church warns against using immigration as a political football

The Methodist Church calls for a sensible debate on immigration, rather than allowing the topic to become an exercise in election point scoring. The Church agrees with the recent concerns of the Immigrant Advisory Service that playing up false concerns about immigration will lead to an increase in attacks on ethnic minorities.

Naboth Muchopa, Methodist Secretary for Racial Justice: "Asylum is a matter of life and death. It should not be a divisive issue nor does it have to be racialised. As we approach the General Election, politicians should refrain from using asylum as well as immigration as a political football, and from using unwarranted fears and misinformation to win votes.

"By exploiting public fears over immigration and asylum, politicians risk a surge in racially motivated violence and harassment of ethnic minorities. Political parties must behave in a responsible manner, remembering that although they may see building a campaign on myths and fears about asylum and immigration as a potential vote winner, the long term damage that may be caused to families and communities could be considerable."

Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social justice, added, "As the political parties fight, the real losers are the refugees and asylum seekers. We believe a sensible debate on immigration can be of great benefit to the UK as a whole. Britain has a long history of immigration, and has benefited tremendously from the energy, ideas and hard work brought to this country from overseas."

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