Monday, January 13, 2003

Lots of letters on the UK visa issue on the Gleaner's letters page today, all of them angry. (None on this subject in the Observer, oddly.) Racist, racist, racist, screams one correspondent. An embarrassment to our wonderful island, moans another. Sue them, pronounces a third. Yet another says, Our high commissioner didn't know what she was doing. (Interestingly, these letters were all written by Jamaicans living abroad.) But none of them disputes the British government's immigration figures: approximately 150 Jamaicans per month last year entered the U.K. as "temporary" visitors & then absconded; six percent of the 55,600 Jamaicans who travelled to the U.K. in 2002 were then denied entry (that's 3,340 people who would have saved themselves the cost of a plane ticket if they'd been denied a visa in Kingston in the first place); worse yet, half the Jamaican children entering the U.K. last year as unaccompanied minors never returned home. Maybe the Home Office did have crime in mind when they decided to introduce the visa requirement, but on immigration grounds alone the decision is eminently defensible.

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