Socialist Worker

Fight for the rights of all migrants to stay

Issue No. 2600

The HMS Empire Windrush, which brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean

The HMS Empire Windrush, which brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean (Pic: Royal Navy official photographer)


The treatment of “Windrush generation” migrants has exposed Britain’s immigration system has been exposed as a racist, bungling bureaucracy.

Further changes to already racist immigration laws in 2012 and 2014 mean migrants can now be forced to prove they have the right to be here.

Employers, landlords and public services such as the NHS can demand to see paperwork.

People who came to Britain between the end of the Second World War and 1971—Windrush era migrants—learned in recent weeks that they may be living here “illegally”.

Some people may have been deported. Others have been made homeless or fired from their jobs. And some others have been forced to pay thousands in legal fees in their battle to stay.

Criticism has even come from Tories and right wing newspapers keen to distance themselves from the bungling home secretary Amber Rudd’s Home Office.

Tory local government minister Sajid Javid said he was “deeply concerned” about the scandal.

Yet the Tories have no sympathy for the thousands of people held at Britain’s borders in Calais.

There was righteous outrage in the liberal Guardian newspaper that anyone who came to Britain from the Caribbean as a child should be detained in immigration removal centres.

It’s a scandal that these centres—such as Yarl’s Wood or Dungavel—exist at all.

Scandal

And the most apalling scandal of them all is that any human being can be described as “illegal”.

Green MP Caroline Lucas was right to say that the Tory government “wants to create a hostile environment for migrants. This isn’t a design flaw, it’s central to their programme.”

We should remember the infamous words uttered by Theresa May as home secretary in 2012. “The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants.”

We should confront head on the idea that there are “good” and “bad” migrants.

If you are economically useful to the bosses and don’t complain about British foreign policy you might be allowed. But if you are undocumented or denounce Britain’s wars you are “bad”.

The liberal outrage comes from a perception the Tories are trying to move the goalposts and redefine who is “bad”.

It accepts there is such a thing as a “bad” migrant. There is no such thing.

Who decides which is which? It is the same MPs who took us to war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and now deny refugees from those wars the right to come here.

Whether the Tories are incompetent bunglers or cynical racists, or both, they must be defeated. And the rights of migrants, whether they’re documented or undocumented, must be fought for tooth and nail.

Protest: Solidarity with the Windrush generation and their families, Friday 20 April, 5pm-7pm, Windrush Square, Brixton, London SW2. Details here Support "Windrush Generation" amnesty debate, Monday 30 April, 4pm-7pm, Parliament Square, London. Details here. Both hosted by Stand Up To Racism.

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