Interview

‘I moved to the UK and was appalled by its immigration system, now I’m fighting for reform’

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All students should study immigration law, argues Durham prof

If you want to feel crap about your achievements, read the CV of the dean of Durham Law School, Thom Brooks.

In a narrative spanning 31-pages we discover Brooks has done pretty much everything an academic can do, and now teaches a multitude of subjects including constitutional law, jurisprudence and crime. A jack-of-all-trades and a master of none? Over to Brooks:

In my opinion, too many academics are overly narrow, working as if any area of law exists entirely on its own. I think it’s important to know how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. It’s true I’ve taught a lot of subjects, but I’ve won pretty much every award that Durham has for teaching. I’d be bored if I taught the same thing every year; I’d fear I’d stale.

Above all else Brooks’ big passion is immigration law. “It’s not something that I planned on having an interest in,” he recalls, “but my experience of being an immigrant and seeing how immigrants are portrayed in the media has been a huge catalyst for me.”

Born in the United States, Brooks travelled across the Atlantic to take up a lectureship at Newcastle University. He recalls a particularly grim autumn night in 2009 prior to obtaining permanent residency: “I was reading through my papers and saw that I had to do a citizenship test. I didn’t know anyone that had done it and I hadn’t done one before. So I went online, did a practice version and, well, I failed.”

That same night, Brooks turned on his television to watch Question Time and, lo and behold, British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin (since expelled) was on the panel. “Everyone was talking about how easy it is to get into the UK,” he reminisces, “I was shouting at the TV because I knew it wasn’t true.”

Ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin

Teaching and reforming immigration law has become a “personal mission” of Brooks, with the “arbitrary” citizenship test pretty high on his hit list. “All it does is demand facts from people that no one in the country knows or needs to know — do you know the size of the London Eye in feet?”

Though Brooks has a lot of sympathy for immigrants, he’s far from an open borders guy. He says:

I want to be a moderately progressive voice on immigration. You have a lot of volume and air coming from people who have never gone through the system, and I thought: ‘there has to be some kind of counter to this.’

Brooks — who has apparently made 700+ media appearances on TV, radio and print — believes that we can have a better immigration system without it necessarily being a more open one. A good example of this is his recommendation for a migration impacts reduction fund — a £25 fee on immigration applications paid to local authorities where public services are struggling to cope with the extra people. This money can be used to pay for more nurses, buses, teaching assistants, etc.

Given how high immigration is on the public agenda, University of Sheffield PhD graduate Brooks is surprised and disappointed his law school is one of few to offer teaching on it.

And even those that do do so in an overly focused way. Many law schools that offer immigration law modules concentrate on asylum and refugee law. Just 16% of people coming to the UK will claim asylum and of that group 60% will have their claims rejected. “What little choice students do have in learning the subject is very narrow,” he concludes.

If you do have the opportunity to study immigration law, former Labour Party advisor Brooks would certainly encourage it. Is that, we asked, because our impending withdrawal from the European Union may present an opportunity for immigration law reform?

Brooks isn’t so sure. Fearing immigration will be one of many important topics piled onto Theresa May’s Brexit-shaped plate, Brooks says: “it won’t get the attention it deserves. The opportunity is there, but the government is too busy, and frankly too weak, to take it.”

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33 Comments

Anonymous

Douche

#MAGA

Also, wtf sort of name is “Thom”?

(5)(19)

Little Thommy Thucker

Do not mock me.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

You keep on fighting the evolution and I will fight the winner.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Brooks is a monumental self-aggrandising bore.

(11)(12)

Anonymous

Nothing like academic jealousy…

(13)(1)

James

He does not teach any subject listed above as he has no idea whatsoever about something he never studied; unfortunately a philosopher heads a law department. Thanks to him (his appalling media interviews) the University of Durham has fallen to top 200 in Times Higher Education rankings. His publications are just quantity – just look at the number of pages. He is genuinely obsessed with media interviews talking nothing about anything possible without having any meaningful expertise. Shameful.

(3)(12)

Anonymous

Durham Law School came third in latest REF and up to 40th in QS World Rankings. Not too shabby….

(10)(1)

Durham Anonymous

The Times Higher Rankings actually put Durham University much higher in the top 100 – https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/durham-university

(9)(0)

Anonymous

James – on a serious point, his outbursts and nonsensical ramblings about Brexit seriously make Durham Law School look bad, and would make anyone aware of all this have another thought of graduates of a place that puts this idiot as head of its Law School.

(3)(7)

Anonymous

How cute…academic jealosy.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Academic jealousy? What planet are you on? I’m an employer, I speak from an employer’s very real perspective.

(2)(7)

Looking for a job

If you’re an employer looking for students who believe whatever the government says, must be easy to hire

(8)(1)

Durham Anonymous

Durham is ranked first in graduate employment must be doing good job https://www.dur.ac.uk/news/newsitem/?itemno=32138

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Ha ha! Let’s have a look at those HESA stats shall we…?

Durham – one of the lowest response rate of all the universities, so in now way statistically valid.
Durham – ok, let’s filter out all the responses and only report on those respondents completing their first degree only…
Durham – ok, let’s not look at the obvious “graduate employment” figures where we’re nowhere near the top, let’s ..er… how can we do this… let’s add in “further study”… oh no, that doesn’t massage the figures enough in our favour… ok.. let’s look for a bigger number and we can then make some great claim… yep, got it, let’s add in the “work and further study” figure, and the study figure and the work figures and the kitchen sink whilst we’re at it, mix it all together, and hey presto, we can pretend we came out on top!

Oh yes, and the study is of 2012/2013 graduates 3.5 years after graduation. So Thom Brook’s position isn’t responsible for any of it.

Durham? Doh.

(0)(6)

Anonymous

(5)(0)

Anonymous

I knew him as a Politics lecturer many years ago, thoroughly nice chap!

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Net migration year ending December 2016: 248,000.

Well hard to get in……….

(17)(7)

Anonymous

” “Everyone was talking about how easy it is to get into the UK,” he reminisces, “I was shouting at the TV because I knew it wasn’t true.””

But you were trying to immigrate from the USA.

I have a funny feeling that, were you trying to immigrate from another EU country, you might have found the process a little easier…

(13)(8)

Anonymous

By definition…

(0)(0)

Immigration Practitioner

From people who nothing of immigration law and a ‘professor’ (and non practitioner) who can’t even pass a British nationality test.

How elucidatory LC.

(6)(11)

Anonymous

Brooks is a top expert on the citizenship test – which he sat and passed. He talks about it in his book Becoming British.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Typical Yank

(5)(9)

Anonymous

Typical lazy racist remark

(8)(1)

Bottom Expert in the Immigration Tribunals Courts and

A top expert on a test for quasi literate teenagers ?
He talks about it in a book?
Presumably for quasi literate teenagers?

(1)(9)

Anonymous

Maybe you would benefit…

(8)(0)

Anonymous

As someone working in the Home Office Immigration team the whole area is a mess. We urgently need to repeal the whole lot of our immigration law and start again.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

If it was so hard to get in then we wouldn’t have significant parts of the country where Arabs and Africans are the majority population. Just look at certain areas of London.

(7)(5)

A Real Londoner

do you know the size of the London Eye in feet?

No, but I do know that it opened late, that the building next to it was home to the LCC and then GLC, that just along the river the crossing into Charing Cross is Hungerford Bridge and just past there, under the National Theatre, is where all the hot skaters hung out in the 1970s. If you look on the lamp posts there are entwined fish wrapped around them.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

As someone said, and I quote,’ According to a very reliable source, going back a few years, even within the home office, there were employees collecting their salaries while living in places like in the Carabian Islands for years!! If they could not even get a grip on things within their own organisation, what chance did they have to fulfil all those big promises made in public by the politicians running the show/their Boss?!!!!’

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t know where the Carabian Islands are but they sure sound interesting …

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Correction: Caribbean- if you think this is bad, just think of the frankly rather telling spelling mistake made on the official site of the Home Office, where (as I recall) ‘the required levels of competence in English Language’ were detailed.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

“Boohoo I had to do a test to become British when they should have handed me a passport when I arrived in the U.K. because I’m so special”

What a load of old tosh – this fool should look at his own country’s abmisal immigration policies or laws before lecturing on what quite frankly is an objective system. Funny it’s always the Americans or Australians (anyone recall the Brain family in Scotland) who think immigration is hard and they deserve special treatment!

(0)(1)

Comments are closed.