29 December 2007

Immigrants & Penal Substitution

A traditional understanding of punishment maintains that each person should be held accountable for their own actions and no person should be punished for the actions of others. As Ezekiel 18:20 puts it: "The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."

So, why is the Shadow immigration minister Damian Green suggesting that relatives of foreigners who outstay their visas should face imprisonment? Jailing someone for another's misbehaviour seems as unfair as Government proposals requiring relatives of foreigners to pay a £1,000 bond to ensure their visitors do not outstay visas. More than being unfair, such a move would also set a dangerous precedent. For what other crimes might it then become politically convenient to find an innocent scapegoat to penalise?

This is not the way to deal with the negative repercussions of unprecedented mass migration. If politicians really want to establish a sense of collective accountability, perhaps they should begin by returning to the days when ministers accepted responsibility for the mistakes made by their departments.


Anonymous said...

Yes, to imprison someone on the basis that a relative, whose visa one has sponsored, has overstayed the limits of that visa makes little sense. It would be much more appropriate to deport the sponsor - a substitutionary deportation.