UPDATED: 2 May 2018.
Revd Martin Kettle, policy advisor to the Church of England (writing in a personal capacity), argues that Christians do not want a hostile environment but want to love everyone and that means illegal immigrants too. He says the thread of Christian values running through our country’s self-identity has a real and practical role in the national discourse about immigration – not about hostility and hate but community and love. Read Martin’s guest post on the Bishop of Croydon’s blog.
In a reaction to the Windrush scandal, calls are being made for the UK government to re-think its immigration policies.
The Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK (JRS UK) is asking the government to make a radical change in its approach to migration, saying the cruelty of the hostile environment agenda demonstrates the need for deep reflection on the inhumane and unethical assumptions that underscore it. In apologising to those Windrush-era citizens caught up in this system, the government has admitted that their treatment has been ‘appalling’ and arose because the Home Office ‘lost sight of individuals’, says JRS UK.
Sarah Teather, JRS UK Director, commented ‘The terrible stories we have heard from individuals of the Windrush-era echo those we hear daily from asylum seekers we accompany at JRS UK, who came here in search of safety. Deprived of their rights, asylum seekers and other undocumented migrants rely solely on the goodwill of strangers and charities to survive day-to-day as they struggle with destitution and constant fear of detention’.
Zrinka Bralo, CEO of Migrants Organise, a self-help, organising platform for migrants and refugees acting for justice, is calling for an amnesty for all migrants as ‘the only workable reparation for the government’s hostile environment immigration policies’, in an article published by Open Democracy UK.
‘”Illegal immigrants”, are the most dehumanised population in the construction of the narrative of “fear” and its associated propaganda. The use and abuse of undocumented people and the myths generated around them has had serious consequences for democratic societies from Brexit to the US presidential election. On a daily basis we are told that there are hundreds of thousands of “illegals” and we should all be afraid for our jobs, houses, and hospital beds as they are coming here to take them’, she argues.
‘The majority of these people are hiding in plain sight, and are able do so because they are just like us, trying to make the best life for themselves and their families. They survive not because they have super powers, but because our economy is structured in a way to depend on cheap labour to deliver higher profits… In receiving countries such as the UK, undocumented people are maintaining industries that would not survive without them. They end up working for less than the minimum wage in terrible conditions, because they have no choice. The welfare state does not exist for them and laws and unions provide little protection for the invisible.
‘If we accept the reality of the situation, the only right, pragmatic, humane, fair and positive step for any government to take, is amnesty, or regularisation of immigration status… If we could find the courage to deliver the amnesty, the world would not be perfect, but our country would be less divided and we could focus our resources and energies on repairing the damage that fear and hate have caused us.’
You can read more on Focus on refugees.