On 11 November 2023, Right to Remain attended Migration is Life! How do we resist borders in everyday life? in Leeds.
This event was organised by Pafras, Racial Justice Network, Yorkshire Resists, Leeds Anti-Raids Action, and Patients Not Passports. These groups came together to share their expertise on resisting the border regime and the functioning of the hostile environment.
The day began with an overview of immigration and nationality law from the 1905 Aliens Act to the modern day. A series of laws – brought in by both major political parties – have excluded migrants from accessing mainstream benefits, the right to rent, and more recently the right to seek asylum. At its core, UK immigration law is racist by design – but this overview also served as a reminder that just as these laws were made, they can be unmade.
We then heard from Stop the Scan, The Racial Justice Organisation, and Yorkshire Resists about how to resist the use of fingerprint scanning and facial recognition technology to carry out immigration enforcement. We heard how the police use of these technologies disproportionately affects racialised people, despite the fact that stopping someone based on race, ethnicity or nationality is illegal. The group have created Stop the Scan flyers, which will be officially launched on 15 November. The flyers have information about situations in which police can scan your fingerprints, and what to do if you are questioned by the police. If you have been scanned, you can email the group at email@example.com.
After a short break, we returned to hear from MedAct and the #PatientsNotPassports campaign about how the NHS functions as a border control force, and how healthcare professionals can resist practices of bordering.
We then watched NHS Borderlands – a documentary following Angela who had been living in the UK for 20 years when she had a vital hysterectomy operation. After her operation, Angela was issued a bill for £8,000 – a debt she simply could not afford to pay back. Angela’s story demonstrates how the promise of universal healthcare is an illusion, and how the hostile environment endangers lives. We learnt about campaigns to resist NHS charging – such as the successful Justice For Simba campaign, and about the ongoing Help Omisha campaign, which needs your support.
Then we heard from Leeds Anti-Raids about how they have been laying the groundwork to resist and stop immigration raids in Leeds. We learnt about how to spot a raid, and what to do if we see a raid. Officers trying to carry out a raid must have a valid reason for questioning you (which does not breach the 2010 Equality Act), and you do not have to answer their questions. Working class people are especially targeted by raids, and raids disproportionately target people from countries with return agreements in place.
Anti-Raids have been completing Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) to learn about the nature of policing and raids in Leeds. An FOI is a request for information sent to a public authority which anyone can make. Through these FOIs, Anti-Raids Leeds have learnt which geographical areas are being targeted by Immigration Enforcement, and how many of these raids have resulted in people being detained and removed.
Importantly, a significant proportion of immigration raids take place without a warrant or legal basis – as many as 242 out of 572 are carried out with what is called ‘informed consent’. This has no legal basis, and is an abuse of power by immigration enforcement officers who do not have the same powers as the police.
Thank you to Pafras, Racial Justice Network, Yorkshire Resists, Leeds Anti-Raids Action, and Patients Not Passports for this invigorating event. The theme of the event was: Educate, Agitate and Organise, and it is through events like this one that we can connect and build community to resist the hostile environment.
Migration is Life
These Walls Must Fall
No One is Illegal
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On reaching the UK, people face a hostile environment. Without help, many will be forcibly sent back to the wars, persecution and misery they have fled.
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