Britain continues its slide into official xenophobia: a government contractor sent nearly 40,000 texts reading "Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain." At least 400 of these reportedly went to people who had the right to be in the country, including some UK citizens. But the contractor says it's all OK, because people who received messages in error weren't deported -- all they had to do was convince a sloppy, faceless, mercenary corporation that they had the right to be in the country and the threats of deportation, deprivation of access to their homes, employment and families ceased. Theresa May, the government's Foreignerfinder General, says it wasn't her idea to send the texts -- just like all the ministers who disavowed the vans driving around London's browner neighbourhoods with giant billboards reading "In the UK illegally? GO HOME or face arrest!"
But still: No biggie!
A total of 39,100 text messages have been sent by Capita on behalf of the government as part of a contract to track down about 58,800 individuals who may not have the right to live in the UK.
The text reads: "Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain." Up to 400 complaints have reportedly been filed, including from individuals who have lived in the country for decades, and have the right to stay. The Home Office says the number of complaints is smaller.
The existence of the texting programme was revealed in a Freedom of Information request.
Labour demands answers over 40,000 'go home' texts to immigrants [Patrick Wintour/The Guardian]
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.