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 electionpoint scoring. The Church agrees with the recent concerns of theImmigrant Advisory Service that playing up false concerns aboutimmigration will lead to an increase in attacks on ethnicminorities.

Naboth Muchopa, Methodist Secretary for Racial Justice: "Asylumis a matter of life and death. It should not be a divisive issuenor does it have to be racialised. As we approach the GeneralElection, politicians should refrain from using asylum as well asimmigration as a political football, and from using unwarrantedfears and misinformation to win votes.

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

Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Socialjustice, added, "As the political parties fight, the real losersare the refugees and asylum seekers. We believe a sensible debateon immigration can be of great benefit to the UK as a whole.Britain has a long history of immigration, and has benefitedtremendously from the energy, ideas and hard work brought to thiscountry from overseas."