Comment: If Mark Harper wants us all to go home, he should do his own cleaning

Britain's Latin American community speaks out about the treatment of the cleaner of a Home Office minister ahead of her deportation.

Mark Harper stepped down as immigration minister when he found he was not satisfied with the paper work of his cleaner, Isabella Acevedo. He is now back in government, but her treatment was more brutal. She is now in detention awaiting deportation. Below, we publish the letter from representatives of Britain's Latin American community protesting her treatment.

Isabella Acevedo worked for seven years for Mark Harper and was paid only £30 a week. She also worked for nine years for the permanent secretary to the Cabinet, Richard Heaton, for less money. Heaton claims he is a human rights barrister.

Isabella had to flee Colombia, a beautiful country with more than 40 million people, which sadly continues to endure internal conflicts started decades ago by foreign interests. These wars have created one of the world's largest migrations – in excess 3.5 million internally displaced people. Many hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to find refuge in other nations around the world. Consequently, many have been forced to migrate without papers in order to attempt to build of life for their children.

Isabella came to the UK for safety, sought work to survive and sustained her family with honesty and dignity but she ended up a victim of the government's economic and political hypocrisy.  She is a victim of the drive to a low wage economy in which the very marginalised suffer the most; the god of deregulation is pursued in the name of more growth and the establishment takes advantage.     

Far from them trying to stop the so called "illegal immigration" they encourage it by impoverishing developing countries through trade agreements favouring North America and Europe, as well as fostering proxy wars and conflicts.  This drives people to leave their countries, forcing them to seek safety or work anywhere they can.  Employers, both regulated and unregulated, take advantage of this pool of cheap labour. This has the effect of driving down wages and worsening work conditions for all.

The politicians, who represent these economic interests then use cheap labour and immigration as a means to foster racism, prejudice and division among lower paid workers themselves.  They perpetuate the myth that low-paid migrants set their own wages to compete with 'British jobs for British workers'. The same politicians sometimes criticise large companies for tax avoidance but don't miss an opportunity to attack the most vulnerable for working cash in hand – even though it's clear they themselves are the ones exploiting, underpaying and taking advantage of vulnerable workers.

Inequality and exploitation in a rich country like the UK is a continuing issue and the case of Isabella Acevedo is a perfect illustration of this in microcosm.

Isabella was viciously torn away from her daughter's wedding and imprisoned in Yarl's Wood detention centre while Mark Harper was back on the Westminster gravy train.

Europe, and in particular Great Britain, has been built with all the gold, silver and richness stolen from South American countries, leaving behind a trail of cruelty, hunger and massacre – a genocide almost forgotten by history.  Europeans came to our countries through the back door, taking our land and natural resources, and now continue to vastly dominate the political landscape. Most corporations exploiting our lands and people are European/Euro-American owned.

As such, the United Kingdom has a moral obligation to address this injustice and recognise Isabella and her family's right to stay in this country.

If Mark Harper wants us all to go home, he should do his own cleaning.

The Latin American community in the UK will continue actively supporting sister Isabella's case until justice has been done.


Miriam Colque, community and human rights advocate, Latin American Community Association (Latca)
Luna Playback London
Imagen Latina
Justice 4 Cleaners (Soas)
Carlos Cruz Garcia, United Migrants Education Project
Colombian Solidarity Campaign
Tres Coastas Campaign
Unity Centre

Right to Remain
Bob Hughes, No One Is Illegal
Karen Doyle, Movement for Justice
Justice for Domestic Workers
Awqapuma Colque and Nemequene Tundama, Tawantinsuyu Nation
Zita Holbourne, national co-chair, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (Barac)

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