Racism has always been used to “divide and rule”
Half a century of immigration laws in this country have reinforced this – Indian vs West Indian, African vs Australian, “good” (often white) migrants vs “bad” migrants. And “benefit scroungers” vs “bogus immigrants”.
The scandal that has come to light affecting the Windrush Generation this year (thanks Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman and Morning Star regular news and features) remains appalling. We should support all those both directly and indirectly affected. Unusually, on immigration, the public is on our side. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of poor Home Office decisions – “foreign national prisoners” facing double punishment of prison and deportation (even “deport first, appeal later”), children who have been born here and lived here 7 or even 10 years already, elderly dependent relatives (as one Home Office representative said, these are “low hanging fruit” – easy to round up and remove).
And now the Government admits that it has known about the Windrush failures for years. Though we also know from legal practitioners that this means they are also saying they cannot deal with other cases on time because they are too busy clearing up their own mess over Windrush…..
Yes, we want justice for this generation – legal aid now, compensation for all those threatened or removed. Yes, we want clear information for all those worried – the Greater Manchester Law Centre based in Moss Side has received dozens of inquiries from those in the community who haven’t wanted to ring the Home Office for clarification in case the first response, as usual, is refuse – and possibly remove. Or they couldn’t get through, or waited for promised responses… and waited and waited. We have tried to keep providing information – and responding to Government “consultations” (read GMLC’s response here) – they seem to have issued more of these than there are people to consult with.
And most of all we need an end to the “hostile environment” – against benefit claimants and migrants. The same language is used to demonise, while many people are affected by both together. It is time for a complete change of government policy. We need the restoration of legal aid, an end to vicious benefit sanctions and exorbitant health charges for migrants, the right to a secure home for all, and justice for all those who have been deprived and even deported.
No one “is” illegal.
Immigration Barrister, Kenworthys Chambers
Chair, Greater Manchester Law Centre
Our work with the Windrush Generation
At our premises in Moss Side, we have been receiving dozens of inquiries from our local community worried about their immigration status.
Guardian and Observer appeal 2018
The work the Guardian and Observer are supporting defends individuals in the UK’s ‘hostile environment’.
The 2018 Guardian and Observer appeal is supporting five charities which were instrumental in securing justice for the Windrush generation. Their work defends the rights of all whose lives are unfairly disrupted by the UK’s hostile immigration system.
Amongst the charities is our Law Centre’s umbrella organisation:
Law centres are community–based, not-for-profit organisations that defend the legal rights of people who cannot afford a lawyer. They provide legal advice, casework and representation on issues such as immigration, housing, benefits and debt, helping people save their homes and jobs and protect their families.
A number of law centres across the UK worked to achieve justice for Windrush clients, preventing detention and deportation and ensuring they retained rights and access to public services. They anticipate increased demand for legal help from other communities unfairly caught up in hostile environment policies, including EU citizens.
The Law Centres Network will use its share of donations to create a fund to which its 43 members can apply to fund extra capacity to work locally with clients unfairly affected by the hostile environment. This could include provision of extra case worker time, or funding liaison work with community groups to ensure people get the help they need.
“As we saw in the cases we took up for the Windrush generation, law centres are a service that people need when they are at their most vulnerable and scared. At that point, we are there to help them,” said Julie Bishop, director of the Law Centres Network.