Socialist Worker

Standing up for migrant rights

by Elane Heffernan, refugee advice worker
Issue No. 1976

Tony Blair is unleashing a vicious assault on migrants and asylum seekers that has gathered pace the more unpopular his policies have become.

Now even the basic right for migrants to see a GP and get treatment for serious illness is to be removed as Blair brands migrants as “health tourists”.

New Labour is currently imprisoning more than 1,500 refugees in detention centres. Six have committed suicide while detained this year.

Children have been dragged from school in handcuffs and deported and Blair boasts of increasing the number of victims to record levels. And there are even plans afoot to force migrants into unpaid labour in return for food.

Yet behind the strong fist Blair is weak on this issue. The rise in racism is horrific but is being met with serious and deep rooted opposition that is reflected in many defeats for New Labour’s policies.

Anti-deportation campaigns rooted in schools, workplaces and communities consistently win. In the high court recently Zimbabwean asylum seekers won a stay on all deportation orders against them.

With a determined and united effort to draw the links between what is being done to migrants and the rest of us, we can organise a better future.

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Sat 12 Nov 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1976
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