Why he ran

Why Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian killed by British special forces in the London Underground, ran from the cops: he had overstayed his visa. The British government issued this gingerly-worded statement:

He applied and received a student visa on October 31 of that year, allowing him to stay until June 30, 2003. After that, the Home Office has no record of any further application or correspondence from de Menezes. “We have seen a copy of Mr. de Menezes’ passport containing a stamp apparently giving him indefinite leave to remain in the UK,” the Home Office statement said. “On investigation, this stamp was not one that was in use by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate on the date given…” [Link]

I don’t condone illegal immigration, but the usual response is to deport, not to execute. (Yes, it was a mistake. No, the cops aren’t blameless.)

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20 thoughts on “Why he ran

  1. Yeah, the whole situation is pretty bad. But seriously, you don’t ever run from the police. Ever. Unless of course they are yelling at you to run away, then I guess you are good to go. But seeing a cop in the Underground (after all that’s happened), and then running away. Not good. Though I would have liked to think that the Special Forces would be able to pull off an incapacitation shot rather than a kill shot. The whole thing is just plain sad.

  2. My very first thought when I heard it was a Brazilian who was shot was “I bet he’s illegal.” I felt guilty for having that response, but you don’t get many Brazilian electricans who’ve been in the UK for years. I was wondering what kind of visa he would possibly have. I know of an Argentinian who’s been here for 7 years illegally — 7 more and he can settle, through some strange loophole. I can never figure out immigration law — the other day the headlines were all screaming that the recent bombers were asylum-seekers on benefits. How does that work?

  3. “I donÂ’t condone illegal immigration”

    What exactly do you mean? Like if you met an illegal immigrant, would you be like ‘You shouldn’t have illegally immigrated?’ As a national policy, a country might need to have some kind of immigration policy but as a personal philosophy it seems a bit strange to not want to condone illegal immigration.

    Actually, come to think of it, even countries like the United States do more than condone illegal immigration – they welcome it so that someone can clean their bathrooms. :)

  4. Was it some kind of performance art protesting the searching of bags by the facist Bush/Blair/Joooss regime?

  5. kafka, do you think he would make sweet lurve to an illegal immigrant?

  6. What exactly do you mean?

    At the most basic level, immigrating illegally is cutting in line. I don’t respect it. Better to fund the U.S. immigration system to cut the backlog of applications– I’m quite familiar with the years-long delays.

    But I’d make an exception for people in genuine physical danger back home– and they generally apply for asylum.

  7. manish, those who immigrate illegally are usually not even in the line so they’re not really cutting in line. that is, they won’t have any impact on those waiting in line. they’re quite often poor people wanting a better life and i don’t think that’s something to look down upon unless one can show some sort of direct correlation with increased waiting times for those in line.

    and murakami in the water, what’s it like to be in the water? :)

  8. That someone’s poor when overstaying their visa is a mitigating factor, but what they’re doing is still a bad choice on many levels: living in fear of deportation, not building anything of value because they’re stuck with only unskilled jobs, not allowing their kids full opportunities, not respecting the host country’s hospitality. It’s like someone poor stealing bread. You don’t want to go that way if you have any self-respect.

    I can’t speak for the UK, but in the U.S. we need to rationalize immigration law and administrative funding. Explicitly allow unskilled labor for the industries which depend on it, drastically speed up processing. Keep everything above-board.

    The way things are, we’ve created a black market for human smugglers, for those not wealthy enough like de Menezes was to get a student visa, fly in and overstay. And many of those people die under tragic circumstances.

  9. Immigration status is the new caste. It seems like the lines are getting drawn more starkly between different classes of people based on status every day. It’s not necessarily about condoning the various paths that people take to come to the West/North, but about seeing how the system should be fixed.

    Papers don’t make people human.

  10. and murakami in the water, what’s it like to be in the water? :)

    It’s like having a wife you don’t really like. I woke up today at 11 am, had a beer and played some Bach. Then I called my girlfriend from Tokyo. I’m not sure how I feel about her. She reminds me of a wind-up bird.

  11. Of course, I agree that one needs to rationalize immigration law and that the black market for human smugglers is sad.

    Having said that, the way the system already is, I think its patronising for us to say that the choice illegal immigrants make (which of course involves a lot of risk etc.) is a choice which lacks self-respect. I don’t think its like a poor person stealing bread – but more like a person who is willing to work in dangerous conditions so that they have a shot at a better life for themselves and their families. Sometimes it ends tragically (like de Menezes) but sometimes they end up living happier lives. And from the pictures of Menezes thrown around in the press, it looks like he was having a pretty good time till the cops shot him.

    murakami in the water – maybe you should forget the girl, forget bach and listen to norwegian wood instead. then she’ll be the girl who once had you.

  12. I don’t think its like a poor person stealing bread – but more like a person who is willing to work in dangerous conditions…

    Illegally. It’s not like a parking ticket.

  13. Yes, it is illegal. However, what’s important is whether it is morally wrong as well. In fact, that’s what we are debating. You think illegal immigrants lose self-respect when they make a choice to illegally immigrate whereas I think we can’t judge them. So though it is illegal, I think morally ok. For that reason, I think its not like a poor person stealing bread which (may) be considered morally wrong.

  14. The truly, desperately poor can’t afford visas and plane tickets or even smugglers. The ones who do come are economic migrants wanting to make more money (good) who take shortcuts (bad). IMO it’s much less morally defensible than a hungry person stealing bread.

    The right way to do this is through the front door with head held high. Really, what’s the point when a pissed-off neighbor can get you deported from your dishwashing job?

  15. Fair enough. Though I think a really hungry person (hungry due to circumstances out of his control) stealing bread is not morally wrong either. And that story you just linked is really insane!

  16. But seeing a cop in the Underground (after all that’s happened), and then running away. Not good.

    Not good and not true. He didn’t “see a cop in the Underground”. First of all, he saw several plain-clothes cops; that is, people in street clothes running after him and pointing their guns at him. That’s the key issue. Second, he didn’t see them in the Underground then start running. He was CHASED into the Underground.

  17. Wow, ignorance is bliss I guess. Why we’re the cops in plain clothes? In Penn station the Amtrak waiting room is basically the cafeteria for all the cops in mid-town Manhattan. I’ve actually been waiting for them to start installing anti-personnel mines and gun emplacements for about a year now.

  18. “the other day the headlines were all screaming that the recent bombers were asylum-seekers on benefits. How does that work?”

    they weren’t asylum-seekers. I think they were all UK citizens. One had been given housing benefit, but that had stopped (sorry I don’t know the details). The headlines you were seeing were our scum tabloids ranting about the fact that their parents were immigrants, and about the one who had housing benefit.

    Asylum-seekers can though claim certain welfare benefits; and they have rights to free health care (but if they are turned down, only emergency care), education, and free school meals and clothing grants.

  19. Jumping back a little… he ran because he saw plain clothes coppers running after him, they didn’t shout “police” or “we are armed” at any given point. Stories say that weren’t even wearing their “POLICE” labelled baseball caps. He also ran because of where he is from. In Brazil, if you see a group of armed men (police or no police) running at you, you run or you get shot.