Hostile Environment; segregates migrants and encourages racial profiling

Image: MICHAEL FLESHMAN/FLICKR
Imran Arif and Peninah Wangari-Jones @peninah69 @racejustice on ‘Hostile Environment policy’

In 2012 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a new approach to immigration: to make Britain a “hostile environment” for people who have “no right to be here”.

The introduction of compulsory ID checks in hospitals, is just one element. The plan is to make it even tougher for people under immigration rules to get a job, rent a flat, use a bank, drive a car, get medical treatment, send kids to school, or otherwise live a normal life.

The rationale, more or less, is: ‘if the government can’t actually seal tight the external borders, it can push unwanted “illegals” to leave, or deter others from coming in the first place, by making it near impossible to live a normal life.’

In October 2013, announcing the parliamentary bill that was to become the 2014 Act, Theresa May declared that its aim was: “to create a really hostile environment for illegal migrants”.

In the formal language of the act itself, the main aim is to “limit … access to services, facilities and employment by reference to immigration status”.

The Immigration Act 2016 made these measures harsher still, and added some new ones. However, in many areas the new policies and interventions do not involve new legislation, but internal changes in policy or approach by the Home Office and other government departments. Some of these are formalised in protocols, guidance documents, and Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) for cooperation between agencies. Others are informal shifts in practice.

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‘Shithole’ countries, racist text messages, and the need to see the bigger picture

Image: Pat Pagley – https://www.cagle.com/author/pat-bagley/

Article by – Remi Joseph-Salisbury

Racism has perhaps featured more than usual in the news cycle of the last few days. First came Donald Trump’s reference to ‘shithole’ countries, and then after mounting pressure, his declaration that he is ‘not a racist’. As Trump was busy declaring himself ‘the least racist person’, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) found itself under yet more fire from the liberal left (and even some on the right). Leaked text messages, sent by a party activist (who is also the partner of the party’s leader), referred to ‘negros’ as ‘ugly’ and suggested Meghan Markle’s ‘seed will taint our royal family’ (a remark revealing Marney to be painfully ignorant to the ‘colourful’ history of the royal family). In response, UKIP suspended the indefensible Jo Marney. The furore that has followed both Trump’s comments, and Marney’s texts, show that, as a society, we are far more able and willing to condemn explicit racist remarks than we are the institutional, structural and oft-less visible forms of racism that permeate our society. Whilst it might serve the purpose of appeasing the white conscience, a narrow focus on explicit racism is incapable of tackling racism in meaningful ways. In this sense, the condemnation of Trump and Marney has been little more than hollow rhetoric that fails, perhaps through wilful ignorance, to grapple with the magnitude of the issues in question. The question has to be whether or not the outraged are serious in their outrage, and therefore whether as a society we are serious about tackling racism and racial inequality. If we are, then the lens through which we view racism, and the scope of what is outrageous, will have to drastically change. A more sophisticated analysis of racism allows us to see Trump and Marney’s texts as nothing more than the visible tip of the white supremacist iceberg: had society been able to adopt such an analysis, should UKIP and Trump not already have been opposed and condemned to the point of irrelevance? It is that which lies below, structural racism, that has such profound implications for the lives of Black and Brown communities. It is structural and institutional racism that keeps so many of our people locked out of key social institutions, and structural racisms that Trump’s Republicans and Marney’s UKIP are so boldly in pursuit of. Structural racisms mean that disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown people are un(der)employed, living in poverty, in substandard housing, and suffering from poor health. Structural and institutional racisms mean that Black and Brown people are staggeringly overrepresented in statistics for school exclusions, incarceration, and in incidences of police brutality. It is the structural that means that global wealth disparities are so stark, and that these disparities manifest in such clearly racialized ways. Should it not be these patterns of inequity that arouse collective outrage? Should outrage not come in response to governments that have no desire to address these inequities? Focusing on the structural allows us to see the ways in which racism is maintained without the need for explicit racist remarks. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has characterized society as one of ‘racism without racists’: a society in which, whilst nobody readily professes to being a racist, racism continues seemingly unabated. Such an analysis shows us that the policies, rhetoric and practice of Trump’s government are far more impactful than whether or not he openly professes to be a racist. Whilst Theresa May and the Conservatives (except, of course, Boris, who seems to be able to say whatever he likes, no matter how explicitly racist) would be less likely to say things as explicitly racist as Trump, their policies and more-implicit rhetoric continue to do great harm to Black and Brown communities. Whilst the outraged find it easy to condemn Trump, where is the commensurate condemnation of the Tories? What kind of a society allows a party to maintain power when it has such devastating consequences for Black and Brown communities, working-class communities, and disabled communities? Seeing racism as being about more than explicit remarks allow us to hold UKIP to task even as they try to distance themselves from the racist image that (quite rightly) haunts them. Sacking and condemning Marney is a mere performance, but will UKIP ever condemn (rather than perpetuate) structural racisms? Absolutely not! If society remains only able to condemn the explicit, racism will continue to flourish. We must draw upon more holistic and nuanced understandings of racism as we strive to overcome.

The furore that has followed both Trump’s comments, and Marney’s texts, show that, as a society, we are far more able and willing to condemn explicit racist remarks than we are the institutional, structural and oft-less visible forms of racism that permeate our society

Why Black Lives Matter To Us

Image: Black Lives Matter protest credit, Engagio

AS AFRICAN Americans and the wider Black diaspora came to terms with the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the murder of five police officers quickly shifted public attention from Black Lives to ‘Blue Lives’.

One explanation for this shift may be that, in the national consciousness of the US, white lives are worth more than Black lives. Another intertwined explanation is that, given their incredible frequency, police murders of African Americans are seen as normal an unremarkable. Despite the police killer Micah Johnson being in no way connected to the movement, and in fact having being condemned by Black Lives Matter activists, the mere fact that the police officers were murdered at a protest organised by the movement has brought an unprecedented level of scrutiny to the movement. Just as any Islamic terrorist is seen to be representative of all Muslims, Micah Johnson is now assumed to represent the entirety of the Black Lives Matter movement. Whilst rejecting this racist logic, it is important now that the impetus and fundamental principles of the movement are defended. History attests to the remarkable efforts that the white media, politicians, and law enforcement will go to in order to ‘expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize’ black revolutionary politics. It is clear that the white establishment has been as troubled by the rise of the BLM movement as they were by the Black Panther movement and Black revolutionary movements of the past. We should not be surprised then that attacks on the BLM movement have proliferated. The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in response to the high profile police murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The growth and salience of the movement is reflective of the racism that permeates US society generally, and its criminal justice system particularly. Indeed, the need to restate that Black lives matter has not dissipated since the movement’s inception. Rather, the systemic and systematic murders of African Americans have ensured that the movement continues to resonate. To understand the need for the BLM movement, it is necessary to consider the recent murders of Sterling and Castile not in isolation but as the latest in an almost incomprehensibly long line of white terrorising, brutalising and murdering of African Americans. This is a genealogy that extends to the slave patrols and public lynchings that characterized earlier epochs of American history. In essence, the murders that sparked this latest protest are modern-day, state-sanctioned lynchings. Whilst in no way suggesting that some lives are worth more than others, when positioned in their larger contexts, it is important to recognise that the murders of Sterling and Castile, and the murders of the five police officers are characteristically different.

The police murders of Sterling and Castile remind us that Black lives are considered to matter less. In so doing, they act to keep in place a system of white supremacy. In contrast, the murders of the police officers do not carry the weight of systemic power. It is, a manifestation of, or reaction to, the failures of that system. In a society where black lives are apparently so expendable, where one in three black males are incarcerated over their lifetime, and where the education system remains separate and unequal, it is fundamentally important that a national and international movement exists that affirms and fights for the importance of Black lives. It is inconceivable and ahistorical to assume that progress would be made without black movements demanding change. Following the murder of the police officers, former US congressmen Joe Walsh used Twitter to place the blame at the feet of Obama, liberals, and Black Lives Matter. Walsh’s critique is woefully misplaced. It is not Obama, or Black Lives Matter, that brought about these murders. Rather the deep-rooted anti-black racism that characterises US society spurned these police murders. Given the levels of inequality, and the snails-pace of racial progress, should we really be surprised by this expression of helplessness, anger and frustration? As James Baldwin observed, ‘The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose’. Rather than condemning the Black Lives Matter movement for the actions of an un-associated individual, people like Walsh should consider encouraging Black Lives Matter: a peaceful and progressive movement that, ultimately, provides a space that channels anger. Without the presence of Black Lives Matter as a voice for the disaffected and disenfranchised, it is not hard to imagine more frustration bubbling over into acts of individual terror. As Langston Hughes once wrote, Negroes, Sweet and docile, Meek, humble, and kind: Beware the day They change their minds! – This piece originally appeared on The Voice, and was written by RJN’s trustee Remi Joseph Salisbury

Despite criticisms from right wing media commentators the movement is more important than ever

Challenging the Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Yorkshire Context

Just West Yorkshire facilitated a meeting with key national and Yorkshire based organisations involved in CSE work to facilitate an open and honest discussion on the issue of child sexual exploitation and particularly street grooming in the region. The aims of the meeting were to: a. understand the problem b. explore intervention strategies c. develop strategies for resilience drawing on best practice. The Report particularly addresses the issue from the perspective of Muslim perpetrators, BME and young male victims as this area remains considerably under-researched. However many of the observations and recommendations made in this Report applies to all victims of street grooming and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Despite the existence of different models of child grooming involving both white and minority ethnic perpetrators and victims, both the political rhetoric and the press and media coverage of street grooming presents the problem in racialised and Islamaphobic terms as an Asian, Pakistani and Muslim problem. The failure to describe the regional prevalence of other models of CSE predominantly committed by White men – such as the conviction of a Mormon preacher in Keighley on child grooming charges; the grooming of young girls by Jimmy Saville in neighbouring Leeds; child sex-trafficking among Eastern Europeans and critically the grooming of young girls over the internet – without a corresponding reference to Christianity is deeply polarising and ultimately gives succour to the Far-Right, racists and Islamaphobes. It is in this context that the high-profile launch of the Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation in Bradford – a joint initiative between Hope not Hate and the Islamic Society of Britain – was seen as a setback for the local community as it perpetuates stereotypes by locating the issue in the context of Bradford, Islam and the Far-Right. Instead the issue of CSE is primarily one of safeguarding young children and any intervention strategies must prioritise this approach. Current data on street grooming in Bradford highlights the fact that perpetrators of this model of CSE are mainly Muslim men of Pakistani heritage. However the widely peddled view that street grooming is a Black on White crime – a view that is given legitimacy by Bradford politicians such as the former MP of Keighley Ann Cryer, the current MP Kris Hopkins and national politicians such as Jack Straw MP and the Police and Criminal Justice Minister, Damian Green – invisibilises victims from ethnic minority backgrounds and marginalises their needs. Intervention strategies therefore have to address the issue from the perspective of vulnerability as the phenomenon of street grooming is an opportunistic crime rather than one determined by religion, race or ethnicity. The foregrounding of White over BME victims and the spotlight on the street grooming model of CSE over other models is eroding community cohesion and both inter and intra-community relations in the district. The repeated targeting of Bradford by the EDL is not co-incidental as the Far Right feeds off this divisive narrative and uses it as a recruiting sergeant to their ranks. Read the report: Final CSE Report JUST West Yorkshire

Key national and Yorkshire based organisations engaged in an open and honest discussion on the issue of Child Sexual Exploitation and particularly the issue of street grooming in the region. The discussion is captured in this report.

Britain: racial violence and the politics of hate

Image: Rick Reinhard

Abstract: Drawing on research into racist attacks in three cities, this report reveals a changing geography of racial violence in the UK (in terms of new areas and targets), and sets this in the context of the socially destructive impact of neoliberalism and government policies to manage the UK’s changing demographic make-up. With racial violence officially defined as just one form of ‘hate crime’, it is now divorced from any wider political context or racialised climate and reduced to a matter of individual pathology. The changing parameters of racism and the state’s responses present a challenge which the Left and anti-racists have been slow to meet. You can read the report, published by SAGE on behalf of Institute of Race Relations here: Racial violence and the politics of hate

Drawing on research into racist attacks in three cities, this report reveals a changing geography of racial violence in the UK challenging recent notions that the current racialised climate is a matter of individual pathology.