"We are all under attack": solidarity, the immigration bill and a Hostile Environment

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solidarityAt a meeting organised by Legal Action for Women in London on Saturday, representatives from groups all across the UK came together to share how things are in their locality, and to plan what we can all to do fight the racist immigration bill, the devastating legal aid cuts, and against detention and deportation.

Unsurprisingly, a pretty bleak picture was painted.  Scarce legal representation, increased destitution, sexual and racist abuse in detention, dwindling resources.  And yet, and yet.  The energy in the room was fortifying: determined groups and individuals vowing that we wouldn’t give up, and that to succeed we must remember the importance of mutual support, self-help and practical solutions.

The meeting was called to campaign for migration justice, but as Cristel of Black Women’s Rape Action Project stated, the immigration bill, legal aid cuts, and increasingly anti-immigrant political rhetoric mean that “We are all under attack”.

As highlighted in our previous blog post – Stop the Immigration Bill: a “regime of harassment for migrants” – the Bill amounts to state-sponsored racism and must be opposed.  There’s still time to have your say in the government’s consultation: deadline 19 November.

The government is producing this unworkable and shameful legislation solely to prove their anti-immigrant credentials.  The ‘opposition’ did not oppose it: only six Labour MPs voted against the bill.  Few in parliament are brave enough to speak the truth – that immigration is good for the UK.

Instead, making the UK a ‘hostile environment’ to migrants forced out of legal channels of migration by a draconian, irrational and prohibitively immigration procedure, now appears to be an acceptable goal.  A goal that will be to the detriment, and shame, of all of us.  Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s new report, Growing up in a Hostile Environment, featured in a Guardian report over the weekend, evidences how the basic rights of migrants are already being denied and that things will only get worse:

The children of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are having their lives made a misery by the government in an effort to put others off coming to the UK, according to a damning new report backed by former minister Sarah Teather.

They are being denied access to their basic rights and assistance to attain legal status in the UK, it is claimed. A proposed immigration bill, the report adds, will introduce further restrictions to these children’s options by asking schools, GPs and landlords to monitor the immigration status of people they come into contact with.

So far, so gloomy.  It was therefore uplifting to read the statement issued by the Jewish Socialist magazine on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, proving that as the government seeks to divide us, we stand even firmer together:

As Jewish people mindful of this history, we are equally alarmed at continuing fascist violence and the toxic sentiments expressed by many politicians and much of the media against migrants, asylum seekers, Gypsies and travellers.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their efforts to live here in freedom and safety, to contribute to society, and be treated as equals. As Jews we stand together with all communities seeking to combat racism and fascism here and elsewhere.



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