Socialist Worker

New immigration rules will keep killing refugees

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2478

Graffiti in Mytilene, Lesvos

Graffiti in Mytilene, Lesvos (Pic: Stefanie Eisenschenk on Flickr)


As immigration controls lead to deaths at both ends of Europe, the Tories are tightening them further.

At least 50 people died crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece in just three days last week, making October the most deadly month there all year.

Another 15 refugees, including six children, drowned off the Greek island of Samos last Sunday when two boats capsized.

At the other end of the Mediterranean in Spain up to 39 refugees may have drowned trying to cross from Morocco.

Hundreds of people protested in Mytilene, capital of Greek island Lesvos, last Sunday, demanding the European Union (EU) fence on Greece’s land border with Turkey is brought down.

Teacher and socialist Sofia Georgokosta told Socialist Worker, “Every day we’re seeing people lose their lives on the sea. This is the only way we can let them cross the border alive.

“In some weeks there are more than 30,000 refugees in Lesvos—that’s more than Mytilini’s population. The facility for refugees here is tiny and the police are often violent, so it’s very difficult.

“But, perhaps because the situation is so severe, the ordinary people are almost all behind the migrants. It’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t donated things or volunteered to help them.

“But we need a political movement to get results.

“This demonstration was huge for a small island. We marched to the port where refugees were waiting for a boat and it was amazing.

“They were crying and saying thank you. Hundreds of them joined in, and chanted ‘freedom’ in Arabic.”

Threats

The threats to refugees’ lives don’t end at the EU’s borders.

Refugees and supporters protested in Lancy, Switzerland, on Thursday of last week, in solidarity with an Eritrean refugee who attempted suicide after being told he would be deported.

Another Eritrean told the crowd, “One after the other we get denied asylum and locked in bunkers, and some of us fall into deep depression.”

And the inquest into the death of Alois Dvorzac (see article) was a shocking reminder of how brutal Britain’s system for expelling unwanted migrants can be.

Despite spinning the tiny number of Syrians Britain is taking in, the Tories are focusing on more ways to keep or kick refugees out.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire announced the latest changes to immigration rules last week, including “clarifying” how refugee status can be withdrawn.

Anyone granted asylum can now have it revoked if they are found to have “used deception”, to “no longer need protection”, to have committed a serious crime or to be a “danger to national security”.

It makes the ordeal of proving they “deserve our protection and all the benefits that come with that status” an ongoing one.

The threat of deportation will hang even over people who have settled and built a life in Britain.

Other measures put further controls on migrants who live and work in Britain.

They all reinforce a system that is killing the people it claims to be helping.


Refugees in the jungle camp in Calais

Refugees in the "jungle" camp in Calais (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Calais migrants are rounded up

Hundreds of migrants in the Calais “jungle” have now been rounded up and flown to detention centres across France—around 50 a day for the last two weeks.

Children have been left alone in the “jungle” after their adult relatives were taken.

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve plans to evict 400 people and build a “container camp” for just 1,500 of its 6,000 residents.


Tories want to charge for NHS

Tory Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to deny A&E treatment to people from outside the European Economic Area unless they pay charges or have insurance.

This is a step towards charging everyone for NHS care.

It’s an entirely bogus solution to the NHS financial crisis. By Hunt’s figures the cost of what he calls “health tourism” is £500 million.

That’s 2.5 percent of the Tories’ £20 billion NHS cuts.


Solidarity rallies and protests across Europe

Far right and racist groups have held protests against refugees in Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany as well as in Calais over the past week.

Several pro-refugee events in Britain also face racist counter-mobilisations.

But all over Europe much larger numbers of people have rallied in support of refugees than against them.

Stand Up To Racism was set to hold public rallies for refugees in London and Birmingham on Wednesday of this week.

There is also set to be a protest vigil at Downing St on Thursday 12 November, 6pm, Refugees Welcome—Don’t let them freeze!


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