By Carys Coleman

When will this raft of anti-migration, and fundamentally anti-human, legislation end? How has cruelty and ignorance of this degree been allowed to continue?

Little over a year ago, RJN and Yorkshire Resists wrote about the sustained attack on human rights marked by the Nationality and Borders Act. Alongside countless others, we decried the cruelty of measures that created even more obstacles and harms to people seeking asylum; created routes of unsafety; and increased arbitrary procedural demands that push people into undocumented status.

Now we face yet another piece of draconian legislation – the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ (sometimes referred to as the ‘small boats’ bill).  Under the new law, anyone who arrives in the UK through a so-called “irregular” route, such as via a small boat or lorry, will have their claim deemed “inadmissible”. This means the Home Office will refuse to even consider their claim for asylum. Instead, they will be detained for 28 days and deported.

The violences here are innumerable.

From the outset, the Bill perpetrates a vicious cycle of denial. It tramples on the fundamental human right to seek asylum and subjects many more to the violence of deportation, without even a “fair hearing”. Even the UNHCR, who rarely make very critical statements, have denounced the Bill for effectively banning asylum. What the government has called “irregular” routes are for so many the only option, not least because the government has created a border system in which safe entry is all but impossible.

The Bill will also worsen the cycle of re-traumatisation within the UK’s detention system. For decades, refugees have been protesting their inhumane conditions and speaking about the trauma caused by locking people up. The Bill means even more will be treated this way, and for far longer than the claimed 28 days of detention. It is predicted that the Home Office will be unable to carry through their unlawful deportation plans but will refuse to process asylum claims, leaving tens of thousands without access to support, work or humane living conditions. To make matters worse, the government plans to use army barracks and floating barges for detention as a twisted solution.

We know that, in too many ways, the cruelty of this Bill is not unprecedented. Its seeds were sown in a hostile environment that never went away but was allowed to take root and grow borders through the streets we walk down, the schools and workplaces we attend, the places we live, and the hospitals and public services that were supposed to care for community. It re-deploys the racist attitudes and imperial technologies that draw up borders and separate humanity into false categories of deserving and undeserving. It is grounded in the deeply colonial claim to know the truth of who belongs where in which land.

In other words, the cruelty of this present is rooted in the reality of our history. And to imagine its end, we must act now. Dear Reader, at this pivotal moment, what would we ask of you?

We know that people within communities targeted by hostile environments continue to support one another, tirelessly. We know that many are using their voices, their power, to make loud and clear that this Bill is a travesty, and to demand an end to the hostile environment. What part will you play? What can you do to support?

Day of Solidarity Across West Yorkshire vs “Small Boats” Bill

On Saturday 22nd April, Stop the Scan Campaign Group and Yorkshire Resists presented an informative afternoon in Leeds for attendees to discuss and understand The “Small Boats” bill, in collaboration with our sibling and friend organisations-

Free 2 B-Me Bradford are a LGBTQ+ led grassroots organisation based in Bradford who believe in a fair, diverse and equal society. Their community social group is ran and held for queer individuals in Bradford. Their presentation spoke about how the poses a serious threat to those currently in the process of gaining asylum, as well as those who look to seek it in the future. The bill will make it extremely difficult for any LGBTQ+ person, who’s afraid of being hurt, or possibly even killed in their country of origin, to get long term protection in the UK.

Anti Raids Leeds & Anti Raids Bradford are a network of every day people are resisting immigration raids in their homes, workplaces and neighborhoods. Their aim is to solely gather and spread information which could be used to oppose raids. Information includes alerts about raids, practical and legal resources, and stories and examples of resistance. The speakers on behalf of the organisation presented their freedom of information which outlined data from September 2022- March 2023 of the raids that have been carried in various areas in Leeds.

The Race & Climate Justice Collective addresses how climate change affects migration as well as minority groups, reverting back to our 13th recommendation.

Our friends at These Walls Must Fall and Solidarity Knows No Borders held a protest in Halifax calling on upon Calderdale Council to pass a motion to reject this Bill. Follow them at @wallsmustfall to keep up to date.

Please take the time out to read our reports and the great work that our sibling and friend organisations do in order to take action.

Denise 04/28/2023

Hi, I read your article, Resisting the Migration Bill, with great interest 👍Unfortunately I was unable to take part in the day of action on 22nd April but do let me have an update! I’d really like to know about any future events. Keep up the good work!! LOL Denise.

sarairjn 05/15/2023

Hello Denise. We’re really pleased you enjoyed the Migration Bill article. If you have Instagram, please be sure to follow us. We post our new event over there first. Our next online event takes place on Tuesday 30th May and our next in-person takes place on Tuesday 27th June. 🙂

Denise 05/16/2023

Thanks for your lovely message! I’d like to come to your in person meeting in June. Could you let me know the time so that I can clear it with my work? LOL 👍!

sarairjn 05/17/2023

Amazing, our in person meeting in June will have a usual start time of 6 and aim to end around 7.30. Will keep you updated!

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