The words and the labels we use to describe people seeking refuge on our shores matter. We have signed the Migrant Rights Network’s open letter asking Suella Braverman to apologise for the inflammatory language she has used to describe migrants and refugees, because we know that Words Matter. Holocaust and second-generation survivors have written an open letter to the Home Secretary, urging her to ‘think before you speak. Your dehumanising language about people seeking asylum is dangerous.’
Even the Home Secretary’s allies have distanced themselves from her labelling of refugees as an “invasion”. As Sir Roger Gale (whose constituency includes the Manston facility) recognises, this type of language fuels and empowers far-right attacks on refugees, such as the petrol bombing that took place in Dover. We also signed a joint letter addressed to Braverman calling for safe alternatives to channel crossings.
What Can I Do?
- Read up on the different language and narratives used around refugees and migration and the unintended consequences, and follow the conversation through the #WordsMatter hashtag.
- Think carefully about the language you use and call out inflammatory language when you see it.
Offshoring to Rwanda
The passage of the Nationality and Borders Act in April 2022 paved the way for the use of offshore detention. On 13th April, the UK struck a highly unpopular deal with the Rwandan authorities to begin plans for removing people to Rwanda before hearing their asylum claims. The first flight was set to take off on 14th June, but was cancelled before take-off following an intervention from the European Court of Human Rights. It has since come to light that several of those people set to be on that flight are potential victims of trafficking. Suella Braverman has named Belize, Paraguay and Peru as three other destinations she hopes to deport refugees to, in addition to Rwanda.
We continue to await the outcome of the legal action taken by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Detention Action and Care4Calais against the flights to Rwanda, which took place on the week of 5th September, and the High Court hearings of the case brought by Asylum Aid, which were held on 13th and 14th October. The judgments from this case, and the previous case heard in September, will be given together at a future date.
In better news, the charter airline Privilege Style have announced they will not be flying people to Rwanda, following the highly successful campaign led by Freedom from Torture. A report from the House of Lords also shows that the agreement to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda should not have been made without parliamentary scrutiny.
What Can I Do?
- City of Sanctuary has suggested tweets and social media resources you can use to contact Conservative leadership candidates on social media.
- Sign the Fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws pledge as an organisation or an individual, or write to your MP to ask them to do the same.
- The Together With Refugees #FillTheSkiesWithHope action campaigning against the Rwanda scheme is now running into the new year. Find out more here.You can download shareable animations
- Safe Passage are running a ‘write to your MP’ action
- Care4Calais have suggested some actions to #StopRwanda.
- Following their successful campaign, Freedom from Torture are gathering signatures for their open letter asking all airlines to follow in the footsteps of Privilege Style and commit not to fly refugees to Rwanda.
- Freedom from Torture have also created a petition you can sign calling on all Conservative leadership candidates to scrap the Rwanda scheme.
Reception & Detention Centres
We are horrified by news coming from Manston processing centre. A new report details the dehumanising conditions in which people live at the centre, where 4,000 people are held at a processing facility designed for 1,600. Diphtheria, MRSA and scabies are spreading at this facility in which people should be held for a maximum of 24 hours. A message in a bottle, thrown over the fence by a child, details the lack of medical care for pregnant women and disabled children. Bus-loads of people are being taken from Manston to Victoria Bus Station, where they are then sleeping rough, aided by local homeless charities. We have signed this joint letter to the Prime Minister requesting urgent action. The facility is reportedly creating a rift between the Home Secretary and the new Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick.
A report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has on the use of hotels to accommodate unaccompanied children has been published. It found that ‘the Home Office is effectively operating unregistered young people’s homes,’ with neither the Home Office nor local authorities holding statutory responsibility for these young people, and in some cases staff on site who had not been DBS checked. In addition, over 220 unaccompanied children have gone missing from hotels funded by the Home Office.
The Home Office announced on 28th June that Campsfield House detention centre in Oxfordshire, which closed in 2018, will reopen in late 2023. A mixture of refurbished and new-build accommodation, the centre will be designed for around 400 men: foreign national offenders and so-called ‘immigration offenders’ set to be removed from the UK. Oxfordshire Council has passed a motion opposing the reopening of Campsfield House detention centre.
In local news, the Reading Chronicle have reported on the fact that refugees living in hotels are accessing local homeless kitchens.
What Can I Do?
- The Action Network has created a template MP letterto oppose the use of repurposed military accommodation centres. it takes just two minutes! Download as a document
- Sign Ben and Jerry’s petition calling for the end of detention.
- Amplify the opposition: There have been protests outside Manston and by detainees inside Harmondsworth detention centre. Detention Action have launched a legal action against the Home Secretary over conditions at Manston.
- Join the Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed.Coalition meetings take place on the first Tuesday of each month.
- Sign Layla Moran’s petition here.
- Use BID’s tool to ask your MP to support Layla Moran’s Early Day Motion.
- Share the Campsfield coalition’s online leaflet
Right to Work
The Lift the Ban campaign has now been running for four years. Currently, YouGov polling shows that 81% of the public support giving people seeking asylum the right to work.