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‘Campaign in every way we know how’ for safety of child refugees, says Alf Dubs

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Issue 2689
Alf Dubs speaking at a Holocaust Memorial Day event in south London
Alf Dubs speaking at a Holocaust Memorial Day event in south London (Pic: Jo Ellis-Holland)

Labour peer Alf Dubs has urged campaigners to “use every means possible to keep up pressure” after Tory MPs voted to dump protections for child refugees.

Tory MPs threw out Dubs’ amendment to the Brexit deal—previously passed by the Lords—last week.

It would have kept European Union (EU) regulations that allow some child refugees to join family members in Britain.

Dubs told Socialist Worker, “We’ve got to use every means possible and campaign in every way we know how.”

He slammed the Tory government’s measure as “mean and nasty”, warning that it would push child refugees to take more dangerous routes.

“I’m happy to be campaigning for child refugees because they’re part of what the government is against and the way the government has been behaving,” he said.

“Who can stand up and oppose a child wanting to be united with their family in Britain, whether it’s an uncle or aunt, sibling or whatever?

“It makes us out to be mean and nasty as a country and I believe most people will say, ‘Yes we can take some more’.” The EU’s Dublin Regulation says refugees should apply for asylum in the first member state they arrive in and allows other member states to turn them away.

One exception is for unaccompanied child refugees who already have a family member in another country.

The Tories’ move will force more child refugees to take more dangerous routes to make it to safety in Britain—and cause more deaths.

Dubs said, “What we want is a legal path to safety and the government have turned their back on it.

“It will be a field day for traffickers.

“The traffickers will see what they can do to help children cross the English Channel on boats and the back of a lorry.

“It’s shocking because these are dangerous journeys—kids have got killed on them.”

Anti-racists have to build a movement to force the Tories to open the border and let refugees in safely.

Health workers demand, ‘axe the migrant checks’

Health workers and campaigners gathered in east London last Saturday to discuss how to build the fight against racist ID checks and charges for migrants in the NHS.

Around 100 people joined the Patients Not Passports conference in Bethnal Green.

It was sponsored by a range of groups, including Docs Not Cops, Medact, Migrants Organise and Tower Hamlets Stand Up To Racism.

At the opening plenary Aliya from the Migrants Organise forum slammed the Tories’ scapegoating of migrants.

She said, “Over the last few years you’ve seen the growth of the hostile environment in this country.

“Our NHS and public services have become a new frontier in border control. “Everyone who has been turned into a border guard, we have to turn into a campaigner.”

Migrants from outside the European Union have to pay a health surcharge on top of visa fees before coming to Britain. Those who do not have indefinite leave to remain can be charged up front for treatment.

This means hospital bosses have to determine who is liable for upfront charges, leading to racial profiling.

Migrants with health conditions, including infectious or life-threatening ones, can fear coming forward for treatment.

And by restricting health care for some of the most vulnerable migrants, it’s another stepping stone to undermining free health care for the wider population.

East London has been at the centre of the fights to stop checks and charges for migrants.

Hospital bosses in the borough were making up to 100 enquiries a week to the Home Office about patients, as revealed by Socialist Worker in the summer of 2018.

This process involves passing “demographic information”—name, date of birth and address—to immigration officials who could then use it to deport people.

Health campaigners forced Barts Health NHS Trust to drop passport checks in September 2018.

At several workshops, activists shared how they could spread the fight across Britain.

New Tory migrant attack

he Tories have sacked the author of a report into Britain’s immigration system—for not being brutal enough towards migrants.

Professor Alan Manning revealed that the government had rejected his application to serve for a second term as chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on Tuesday.

His announcement came at the launch of the MAC’s report into the Tories’ proposals for an “Australian-style points-based immigration system” after Brexit. This would make a false division between “skilled” and “low skilled migrants”, put up more barriers to migrants and make life harder for the poorest once they got to Britain.

Manning said the proposals were “likely to reduce future growth” of the “economy compared to freedom of movement”.

But defending migrants’ rights should not be framed in terms of what’s good for bosses’ profits.

The left should respond with arguments for working class unity.

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