By Dotun Adebayo
“YANKEES GO HOME" was a familiar cry in Indo-China in the 1960s when American imperialism tried and tried but just could not win against Ho Chi Minh. In the 70s here in Britain it was we, the black community, that had to endure the ignominy of being told to go home by those who prefaced their cry with the n-word: “N*gg*r go home!" But now it is the British government that is telling Africans and others, but especially Nigerians, I suspect, “Go home or we'll arrest you.”
Don't panic, you're not going to get nicked the moment you step out your door. Or maybe you will, but not because you haven't gone home. Not unless you've overstayed your official welcome in terms of a visa and are technically an illegal alien. In those circumstances you will get nicked. Or so the government reckons.
They have got huge billboards in the usual suspect neighbourhoods: Brent, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge (guess where the Nigerians live?) warning that if you're an illegal alien, get lost or suffer the consequences.
Look, I can count on the fingers of a centipede the amount of Nigerians who have overstayed their welcome that I have come across. And there's just one thing about this multi-million pound campaign by the government to scare overstayers into leaving voluntarily. People who stay here when their visas run out do so because they feel they're better off here even when they're working 18 hours a day as a security guard for £100 a week and sharing a rented room according to shift patterns. They've risked everything to get here and they know the consequences, which includes being nicked. So why would a threat from the government provide an incentive?
The government of course knows this. They know that searching for an illegal immigrant in our inner cities is going to be like the hunt for the proverbial needle in a haystack. So it begs the question, why are they pursuing this hopeless cause which at best will capture those who are too stupid to blend in? What do you think?
Is this not an ideal way to revive the discredited stop and search now that the practice is taking a kicking from all sides, not least from the Home Secretary, Theresa May?
This 'go home or get nicked' is a charter for the cops to retain those same powers to detain anyone who looks like an illegal alien (that's you and I, folks!)
Most of us of course will be able to talk our way out of any stop with our perfect and pristine cockney. It's you lot with your heavy Nigerian accents that I'm worried about. You lot are going to get stopped and nicked and, in the fallout, a certain amount of you are going to be on the flight back to Lagos. It's the law of averages that the government is relying on to return one or two illegal aliens for every 100 or so Nigerians that they stop and search.
So my advice is, if you get stopped by the immigration police pretend that your accent is funny because you're Scottish.