In 2013, our members voted to change our name to better reflect the work we do, (and for a name that is much easier to say!). So, what led to the name change?
The nature of our work has changed, in response to the changing environment of migration controls and working for migrants' right to remain in the UK. Working for justice in an immigration or asylum case cannot just begin when removal is imminent. Our work is increasingly around raising awareness of the legal processes, helping to make sure people understand the system, know their rights, and their options in the struggle to establish the right to remain.
In recent years, successive governments have introduced ever harsher immigration controls, extending them from the port of entry deep into our society - into our communities, workplaces, schools, colleges, hospitals and so on.
Access to justice in the legal system has been stripped away. People seeking the right to remain face a culture of cynicism and disbelief, and have limited or no access to good-quality, free legal representation. There has been a vast increase in the numbers imprisoned in immigration detention centres. The rights to work, education, housing and healthcare have been cut back. People without the right to remain often face barriers in accessing the basic necessities of life, becoming homeless and utterly destitute. These measures were described by a former Home Secretary as part of a strategy to make life so "uncomfortable" that those who could not be removed from the UK would choose, in desperation, to leave.
With increasing numbers of people denied access to justice and basic human rights whilst seeking the right to remain, the community groups we work with have had to develop new methods of practical solidarity to assist people to establish their right to remain with dignity, safety and humanity, and to challenge injustice in the system.
Our key work is to support these groups all across the UK, providing resources, information, support and training.