The increase in attacks on immigration by all major political parties looks as if it may escalate over the next few months – with politicians' assertions about “benefit tourism” bearing no resemblance to the reality of life for people who come to the UK looking for work or seeking asylum.
This week, the Government said it would prioritise a new parliamentary Bill which will restrict migrants' access to benefits, the NHS and other services even further. Debates around the new Bill will be held in a climate in which the Prime Minister has said that, where once migrants came to this country for work and trade, they are now coming to claim benefits.
The attacks on migrants are not confined to the Government however. The Labour Opposition claims that immigration is too high and companies should be deterred from employing foreign workers. The far right parties have always blamed unemployment and cuts in services on immigration – and now it seems that all major parties are adding to these electoral machine-rooted efforts to whip up scapegoating. It may be, in part, a response to the rise of UKIP but the major parties' collusion in the demonisation of migrants is dangerous and irresponsible.
RAPAR condemns all statements against migrants made by any political party. We do not blame migrants for the strains on public services or the level of unemployment. Migrants to the UK are subjected to very stringent checks before they are allowed to either work or to claim any benefits whatsoever and refugees are left on meagre payments, and made to stay where they are placed – including imprisoned in detention centres – until their asylum applications are decided.
It is the Coalition Government - not migrants - who have set out to destroy the public services that generations of workers have fought for: social housing, education, the NHS, public baths and libraries. It will take a united fightback to resist the cuts to these services and legislation like the bedroom tax which may soon lead to people losing their homes.
We are pleased that Manchester Trades Union Council has made a public statement criticising attacks on migrants. We also welcome the many community and trade union campaigns set up to resist the Bedroom Tax, the new Universal Credit currently being piloted in the North West, and cuts in jobs and public services. This week, the Manchester Evening News launched its own “Ditch the Bedroom Tax” campaign highlighting the cruelty of a legislation which, amongst other things, will force many disabled people and their carers to live apart.
Evictions, destitution, food handouts, detention and severely restricted benefits have been the norm for many years for refugees who have sought asylum in the UK. Now, as a result of the Bedroom Tax and the Universal Credit system, social housing tenants will be threatened with eviction. Increasing numbers of people are having to use food banks in order to feed their families. And there are even suggestions that the Azure card, given to people seeking asylum (instead of money) to buy food from supermarkets, will be extended to unemployed people.
There is a very real chance that the pernicious system which successive governments have spent years perfecting in order to “control” refugees will be extended to unemployed and low paid workers throughout the UK.
RAPAR is based in Manchester, a multi-cultural city, and we are committed to building unity between all workers and defending us all against any attempts to divide and rule. Migrants must not be used as scapegoats for the financial crisis and the failed austerity policies of this government.
My name is Aminet Mary Adenugba and I am a victim of human trafficking.
I was brought to the UK from Nigeria in 2004 and was exploited and abused for three years. I managed to escape from that life but even after I ran away, many other people in this country misused me because I was alone and vulnerable. Now I am safe and I have friends here who protect me but it is still not safe for me to return to Nigeria. This is my story:
I was born into a Muslim family on November 20th 1970. My dad was a bus driver and my mum was a street trader. I had two brothers and two sisters and I was the oldest. We lived in Lagos. I went to the local school where there were both Muslims and Christians. All my friends were Christians and in my teens I decided to convert to Christianity. My dad, who had always been hostile to me from birth, was very angry but my mum protected me and tried to keep me safe. He and my brothers started to threaten me and I was forced to leave.
I went to live in a small flat and worked as a hairdresser. Then I met a man and found that I was pregnant. My father was furious; he said that I had brought shame on the family, but again my mother helped me. I gave birth to my baby daughter on June 22nd 1998.
One day, when my daughter was about three and half years old, I went to a wedding while my mother looked after her. While I was at the wedding, there was an explosion in Lagos in which my mum and sisters were killed. My little girl was never found. My father accused me of witchcraft and said I had brought this misfortune on the family. He said that I must die. I had to go into hiding.
A local church tried to help me but I was in a bad way: destitute, homeless, no job or money and my beloved mother dead and little girl gone. I tried to commit suicide. When I came out of hospital, the pastor introduced me to a local black man, Uncle Kay. He was a respected member of the church. He said he would help to take me somewhere I would be safe. He gave me a new name and date of birth, and brought me to the UK.
In London I was forced to work as a prostitute. If there were no men to be serviced, I was made to work in a hair salon. I kept escaping but kept getting caught again. Uncle Kay shouted and starved me. Then he brought me to Manchester and gave me to Uncle Philip, a white English man. Once again I was imprisoned and forced to work as a prostitute or used to clean offices or houses or work as a hairdresser. I was a slave.
Late one night, when we were out, Uncle Philip and I were approached by the police and I was taken to the police station. I was very scared and confused and harmed myself. I was too frightened to tell them about the trafficking. The police released me after telling me to claim asylum at Dallas Court, but I didn’t understand what that meant. I was frightened that Uncle Philip would find me. After leaving the police station, I met some people who took me in but they started exploiting me. This happened several times because I was destitute and very vulnerable. It went on for three years.
Then I met some people at RAPAR who helped me to help myself. They found me a safe place to live, put me in touch with the Poppy Project and assisted me in writing my story.
Please give vital support to Olayinka's campaign
by sending letters to the Home Secretary Theresa May bringing Olayinka's case to her attention and urging her to intervene. Since Olayinka is currently attending school, letters from teachers or other education professionals would be particularly appropriate; template available here
. Letters from anybody else are also extremely helpful; more general template here
. In any correspondence please quote Olayinka's Home Office reference O1144171/06, and please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org that you have sent a letter. Many thanks.
See flyer below and Olayinka's campaign page
. The event is to raise funds to support Olayinka's legal costs, to publicise her campaign, and to raise awareness about the issues Olayinka faces. Refreshments and entertainment, including face painting for the kids, provided! Please download the flyer here
See flyer below. For more details and background see Mary's campaign page
- Solidarity vigil on the steps of the Friends' Meeting Housing, Mount Street, Manchester, on Saturday April 20th, 11.30am-12.30
- Tribunal hearing 10am, Fri 10th May. Supporters to gather from 9.30am outside Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Court, Mosley Street (behind Mosley Street tram stop), Manchester.
22/03/13, Diane Taylor - hereMinisters admit trying to forcibly remove tens of thousands of peopleSystem 'in chaos' as nearly half of enforced removals are cancelled, many of them after successful legal challenges
The government has admitted that it has tried to forcibly remove tens of thousands of people from the UK unlawfully.
The figures were disclosed to the Guardian after a freedom of information
request which showed that almost half of the enforced removals the government attempted were cancelled.
Critics say the high number of cancellations and attempted unlawful removals are signs of a system in chaos.
In 2012, 14,435 enforced removals took place but between January and November 11,085 were cancelled. The figure for the full year is likely to be about 12,000 cancelled removals, almost half of the total.
Of those cancelled, 4,569 were halted because the courts said they were unlawful. In the past five years, 48,858 removals have been cancelled, 22,079 of them owing to successful legal challenges.
The figures relate to asylum seekers and non-asylum seekers; some people may have been subjected to more than one cancelled removal attempt. There have also been 3,753 cancelled deportations of people who have committed criminal offences, 1,450 of which were because of successful legal challenges.
Some enforced removals were cancelled because of problems with escorting the people out of the country. In 2011, 114 removals were cancelled owing to escort problems but last year this figure quadrupled to 450.
The high number of cancelled removals has a variety of implications. There is an estimated cost ofThe administration costs of removing each person is £186 for each cancelled removal – a total cost of almost £10m over the last five years, excluding the cost of extra detention, courts and cancelled flights. In his recent evidence to the House of Lords justice committee, the lord chief justice said that immigration, asylum and nationality judicial reviews took up a vast amount of the court's time.
Keith Vaz, chair of the Commons home affairs select committee, said: "I am very concerned to note the number of enforced removals cancelled since 2008.
"These cancellations cause distress and uncertainty for deportees. The committee has been very clear that the quality of initial decision-making by the UK Border Agency must be improved. It is unacceptable that the number cancelled due to escort problems has quadrupled in just one year. UKBA needs to look carefully at their procurement processes and ensure they keep an up-to-date register of high-risk companies, as the committee recommended."
James Packer, head of immigration at Duncan Lewis solicitors, said a system in which almost half of enforced removals were cancelled, many because of successful legal challenges, could not be described as working effectively.
"UKBA consistently makes decisions to remove on the basis of information that is out of date – often years out of date – and then systematically delays its consideration of any new information until the 11th hour. A system run in this manner will inevitably result in last-minute cancellations of removal in many cases. This is a separate issue to the errors that pervade the shambolic administration of the UK's immigration system."
Emma Mlotshwa, of the charity Medical Justice, which provides support to detainees, many of whom face enforced removal, said: "This is a system in chaos. We deal with countless cases of enforced removals which are cancelled. The whole thing causes needless trauma to detainees. Taking someone to the plane and then back to a detention centre, keeping them under imminent threat of deportation, is inhuman and treats detainees no better than cargo."
UKBA said: "Where UKBA and the courts find that an individual has no right to be in the UK we expect them to leave. Where they refuse, we will enforce their removal.
"We will investigate any allegations that contractors are not meeting UKBA's expectations.
"If standards are not met then UKBA can take appropriate action to recoup payments in accordance with the agreed contractual arrangements. 'Escorting issues' cover a range of issues and do not relate on every occasion to a failure by the contractor." Ukba added that some of those whose enforced removals were halted were ultimately found not to be entitled to stay in the UK and that most air fares were refundable or rebookable.Case study: Winston, 32, refugee from Zimbabwe
"I was a member of the Movement for Democratic Change and was attacked and beaten by government forces. My house was burnt down and my family was scattered. Two weeks after I arrived in the UK in 2007 my asylum claim was refused. I was placed in detention between March and November 2010. UKBA tried to remove me four times. Each time it was very traumatic. I was placed in an isolation cell before being taken to the airport. All I could think about was that the British government was going to deliver me back into the hands of the people who had persecuted me. Each time I was taken to the airport my removal was cancelled. In July 2012 I was granted refugee status."
Mary's tribunal hearing has been adjourned to May 10th at 10am, Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Court, Mosley Street, Manchester - assemble outside at 9:30. Public meeting on Friday 15th March (see here
) still same time, same place, and with plenty to discuss.
See poster, below, and Mary's campaign page
. Come on Friday and:
- hear updates on Mary's campaign
- offer your support and input
- find out about and/or offer experience of the broader realities of trafficking and exploitation in Manchester and the UK - including what UK authorities are and are not doing in response to these abuses.
[See our post about the anti-EDL mobilisation on Sat 2nd March 2013 here
[See a video of a speech by Sabby Dhalu, Joint Secretary of Unite Against Fascism, here
, promoting the 2nd March and giving a number of insights into the work of the UAF]
From Unite Against Fascism --
Please see the statement below: "Albert Square Belongs To Multicultural Manchester - not the Racist Nazi EDL". Please sign and circulate the statement, and see suggested tweets at bottom.
The statement is signed by:
Councillor Daniel Gillard, Manchester City Council
Dr Abdul Aziz (Muslim Association of Britain)
Lesley Lancelott (Manchester Unison Women's Group, pc)
Rabbi Warren Elf, Faith Network for Manchester and Salam Shalom
---StatementAlbert Square Belongs To Multicultural Manchester - not the Racist Nazi EDL
Manchester City Council should overrule the Manchester City Partnership decision to offer Albert Square to the English Defence League for a rally next Saturday, March 2nd 2013.
Under no circumstances should the EDL be allowed to use our Town Hall Square as a platform for their hatred against the many and diverse cultures and faiths in Manchester.
Albert Square is in the heart of our city.
Manchester Town Hall is in Albert Square and, throughout the year, it hosts events which demonstrate our Multiculturalism and our Multi Faith City
Right now it is decorated with Chinese lanterns to celebrate Chinese New Year. At the Jewish festival of Hanukkah there is a Menorah. Sikhs use the square for their celebration of the birthday of Guru Nanak. The Hindu festival of Divali is celebrated in Albert Square. At the Christmas Market there is a Nativity in Albert Square. Muslims have prayed in Albert Square on Peace Marches. Later in March, Albert Square will host the annual Irish festival which celebrates nearly 200 years of the Irish immigrant community in our city. Gay Pride started in Manchester's Albert Square after the protests against the homophobic section 28.
There is no place for the EDL in Albert Square - or anywhere else in Multicultural Manchester! Not on March 2nd or on any other day.
Cllr Daniel Gillard, Manchester City Council
Dr Abdul Aziz (Muslim Association of Britain)
Lesley Lancelott (Manchester Unison Women's Group, pc)
Rabbi Warren Elf, Faith Network for Manchester and Salam Shalom
#asktheleader do NOT permit the EDL in Albert Square #asbmm
No place in Manchester for EDL - stop them from using Albert Square
Use your powers MCC. Stop EDL from using Albert Square on March 2nd
To add your name to the statement, please contact email@example.com
Speech by Sabby Dhalu, Unite Against Fascism joint Secretary, at a rally to promote the huge anti-EDL mobilisation on 2nd March 2013
. (Also see here
for the statement against Manchester City Council granting the EDL use of Albert Square.)
In a very interesting speech, Sabby talks about recent victories over the EDL and BNP, but also urges avoiding complacency - for example, it is crucial that Nick Griffin is ousted as North West MEP in 15 months' time. She calls for broad unity against fascism in the UK ("unity across Muslim, Jewish, Lesbian, Gay, Socialist, Liberal..."), and also explains a little about the rationale behind UAF's 'no platform' policy and the issue of free speech. (UAF opposes giving a platform to fascists, such as the recent example involving France's Marine le Pen and Cambridge Student Union.)