Why people take the risk to work ‘in the black’ (illegally)

It makes you sick at heart. Give us the chance to work. Give us the chance to work. Even if you don’t give us the papers yet, give us the opportunity to work. I have responsibilities to so many. There are so many people who want this.

We fled here from political problems. Myself, I worked in the United Nations office. There is nobody who can support them (my family back home) when I’m not there, and I can’t work. Children have to go to school, its not free like here in England. How can I educate them, house them? How can I provide? I lived with my mother. My father is dead. So I have to feed my mother, she is over 70 years old. I have to seek some way of sending her money to support her, I’m seeking left and right, I can’t ask a Charity for money to send to my country, so I have to seek black work.

I am the eldest in my family. My father died and I am responsible for my mother and two brothers, who are handicapped. When I was in Iraq I had a good salary because I worked at the University, and I helped support my mother and two brothers. Because my mother had only a little income from my father’s pension. I went shopping for her, bought her and my brothers what they needed. I had a car and took them on picnics. Now its difficult. I haven’t any money to send to my mother to support her and she needs money. Last week she asked me if she died, then who would make sure she was buried right?. Who will be responsible for my brothers if she dies. When I was young I though the UK was paradise and everything was good.

Certainly working on the black helps people a lot, that’s for sure. When my mother is sick, I can’t send her vouchers to make her better. So I have to work to look after my mother.

They shot dead my 19 year old son in Congo. We had a mass here, but if I don’t have money I can’t send it to my country to bury my son

So we have to go and search for work, black work, to send some money home to our families. If today they gave us permission to work, we wouldn’t have to work on the black and we would pay tax in England.

The risk is there for everyone. So many people are working on the black because they don’t give us permission to work.

I’ve been here over 3 years, waiting. For me personally, the risk of being caught was there, but I had to support my family back home. One day will be the day it is your turn to be arrested. So I was arrested. Now I am in the legal process. I have to go and sign every day at the police station and I go to court in September to see what the Judge decides. I don’t know what will happen to me. That’s for the Judge to decide. But since the start of August when I was arrested, and freed the next day, I’ve had to sign at the police station every day. But its the Judge’s decision. I don’t know what he will decide. My solicitor asked if I could sign one or twice a week. But he Judge refused and said I must sign every day. But I think if he Judge is a father like me, or a mother, who has responsibilities, he wouldn’t wish me harm. He would say, Monsieur, if you were working for your family, then he could see the reasons. I wasn’t working to get drugs, or such things. I went to work to help those people who brought me into this world.

I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs. We work to help our children, our wives, our families. People waiting are suffering.

I know the police and immigration know that people work on the black. They know. The Police know and Immigration knows. The reason we work on the black is because we are working to support our families. It seems like they don’t know why we work, but they can understand why.  They know he is married, is the father of children, with a family. But how can he live on £35 vouchers a week? I don’t think you could live on that. Even a week’s food for the house is not £35. But a man like me, a father of 7 children, I have £35 of vouchers. So they don’t know the reason we work? They make out they don’t know, but they know.

They give me £35 vouchers a week. What am I supposed to do with vouchers?  In 2006 I even asked to join the army of this country. But they said at my age, 40, I was too old to be a soldier. They only recruit young men of 17 or 18. But I did ask to do that, but they said No. I need to find work. I am strong enough to find work. I really need to work. I am strong.

The fathers suffer. If today you deport someone to his country, it will be terrible, because he will start with nothing, at zero. But if he could work now, he could organise himself. There are so many people who have been here for 5 years, 6, 8 years, and if you returned them to their country now where would they start? What will they eat, what will they do? You don’t have a house, or anywhere to stay and no money. Its terrible.

If they gave us permission to work it would be so good. In Canada they give people who don’t have papers the right to work, and also in the USA.

I want to ask immigration, the people who judge us, to review the system, to give us the right to work. Perhaps give us a house for one week, two weeks, but give us the chance to work and we can find a house. It would also give us freedom, to do what we want. We are all trapped in the system, we can’t escape the system. We hate it.

If they gave me permission to work tomorrow, first I would smile, I would be so happy to just do what I did in my country. I worked at the Airport, I worked on the border between Kinshasa and Brazzaville. I know airports, I know the system. If they gave me permission to work at 12 o’clock, I wouldn’t waste a minute. A 12.05 I would be in the agency asking for work

If today immigration gave the opportunity to work, the chance to work to everyone then I know that everyone would wait patiently for immigration’s decision. If they gave permission to work today then I know myself, and 10 or 15 other people I know, in 5 minutes we’d go to all the agencies, the factories, the companies, and seek work.

We have a proverb in Arabic. It says if you don’t allow people to do things, it makes them do things the wrong way. Because they don’t allow them to work people find black work. And this is not good for the Government because they don’t pay taxes.

I want to ask immigration to give asylum seekers permission to work. The same as the USA. The same as Canada.

We ask immigration, PLEASE, if you can hear me, I say, help us, give us the chance to work. We don’t need vouchers. We don’t need to go to the post office to collect £35. We need work, like in Canada and the USA. That’s what I want to say to immigration.

I am proud to give these answers to your questions. I was looking for the opportunity to speak about the suffering and I am very happy I have found that opportunity today.