34,000 FOREIGN students have had their visas cancelled and over 1,000 have been kicked out of the country as a result of the racist ‘hostile environment’ regime imposed by Theresa May while she was Home Secretary in 2014.
When the scandal of the Windrush generation broke last year, charities that deal with immigration disputes warned that Windrush was just the tip of the iceberg and now it is emerging that even more foreign students have been subjected to the racist policies pursued vigorously by May and the Tories.
MP Mike Gapes described this as ‘a bigger scandal than Windrush in terms of the number of individuals removed from the country and whose livelihoods are being destroyed by anguish and despair’.
The basis for foreign students to be targeted by immigration officials was the claim that they had been engaged in the wholesale cheating of a Home Office approved test – English for international communications (Toeic).
This emerged in a TV Panorama programme broadcast in 2014 which claimed to have uncovered cheating in two test centres.
The footage was shown to May who jumped at the opportunity to brand virtually every foreign student as a cheat in the test designed to assess English language skills, proclaiming she found it ‘very shocking’ and pledging she would ‘do something about it’.
What May and the Home Office did was unleash a reign of terror on these students, ignoring all protestations of innocence and dispatching immigration officials to the homes of over 3,600 students to round up all those accused of cheating.
Huge numbers of students targeted by immigration enforcement officers pleaded for an opportunity to prove their innocence by re-sitting the test, pointing out that they were already fluent in English with some even studying for degrees in English Literature, accountancy and law, while others were actually PhD students.
None of this mattered to the Home Office and over 30,000 had their visas cancelled, over 4,000 being deported from the country with no leave to appeal and prove their innocence after being told by immigration that they would be arrested if they tried to remain.
Students who took the test over five years ago are still being hunted down and taken to immigration centres to await forced deportation.
Those students who have managed to remain and try to prove their innocence have been prevented from carrying on studying, prevented from working and are unable to open bank accounts or rent accommodation.
They have been made destitute, while protestations of innocence – including one student who didn’t even take the test he was alleged to have failed – have been ignored and dismissed.
The American company Educational Testing Service (ETS), which carried out the tests, lent support to the Tory attack, claiming it had carried out voice recognition analysis of recordings of all the tests taken in the 96 centres and that 90% of students taking the test had cheated!
Labour MP Stephen Timms said of this claim: ‘There is no way that 90% of those who sat the test were cheating. Do they really believe they were presiding over a system in which over 90% were cheating? It doesn’t make sense. It’s completely implausible.’
It might be complete nonsense to any rational person, but it was seized upon by May as justification for the Tories’ racist attack on all foreign students – attacks that are continuing to this day despite all the hand-wringing over crimes committed against the Windrush generation.
It was part of the Tory strategy to attempt to split the working class and try and divert workers from the struggle against the reign of terror the Tories have been waging against the working class through the vicious austerity cuts demanded to try and save a bankrupt British capitalist system.
The only way to put an end to all these racist attacks on workers and students is for the working class to mobilise its industrial and political strength to kick out this collapsing Tory government and go forward to a workers’ government.
A workers’ government will welcome all workers, students and young people from across the world to join in the building of a socialist society.