Within the first few pages of
The Satanic Verses, the two main characters, Gibreel and Saladin, two Indian actors on their way to England, are falling through the air after a bomb was detonated on their plane. The narrator comments that Gibreel and Saladin "fell like tidbits of tobacco from a broken old cigar ." This simile is perfect in it's description of the status of the two in England and an immigrant in general. Likening them to rogue bits of tobacco, they become a mere annoyance, something to be simply brushed away into obscurity. Saladin even became one afflicted by such a view of his fellow Indians and Indian culture, choosing to tailor himself as an Englishmen, forcing his face, appearance, voice, and mannerism to become English. But for all the work he has done to achieve his goal, he is still treated like an animal by the constables and officers that arrest him from Rosa Diamond's house once the two land [162-167].
Immigrants as a whole are described as being inferior and unwanted by their trip through customs, having to describe their husband's genitalia and distinguishing marks and travelling with children whose legitimacy is suspect . Customs is requiring them to go through a humiliating process by describing their husband's privates and presenting them with an arbitrary test. The British government is not ensuring these people are coming into the country legitimately, but actively trying to keep them out. And if they are suspected not to be, they are treated horribly, as Saladin and all of the other patients in the "hospital" that he is sent to are. Or when Saladin is initially arrested, he is undressed, physically abused, verbally berated, and made to eat his own excrement. These exemplify their status in the eyes of the English as inferior and insignificant, or as just bits of tobacco falling out of a cigar.