Dear IRR News subscriber,
The last couple of weeks have been dominated by the ‘revelations’ – familiar to many of our readers – of the inhuman consequences of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies. Some of those affected – the mostly Caribbean Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK as children in the 1950s and ‘60s to join their parents, who were often British when they arrived but unknowingly lost citizenship when their countries became independent – have lost jobs and suffered homelessness, ill health and massive stress. In the case of Dexter Bristol, it killed him.
It is a cause for celebration that this cruelty has been exposed and condemned so widely, after years of fruitless attempts by campaigners to evoke concern in the government and the media about the injustices caused by the hostile environment. Now, long-resident Commonwealth citizens have been offered citizenship and compensation, and Amber Rudd’s evasions and untruths over the issue of removal targets, revealed by whistle-blowers and leakers at the Home Office, have forced her resignation.
But a change of home secretary, and of terminology (from ‘hostile’ to ‘compliant environment’) will change nothing so long as immigration policy centres on catching ‘illegals’ for detention and removal. As we report in our calendar of racism and resistance, Sajid Javid’s pretensions to a more humane immigration control system will be tested by the demands from various groups, including students removed after failing tests which wrongly categorised them as cheats; women whose status, and the fear of deportation, prevents them from leaving violent partners; vulnerable women held indefinitely for immigration infractions, who went on another hunger strike yesterday to protest their situation; young people brought up in the UK and subsequently discovering their lack of legal status, who are campaigning for the right to stay.
The hostile environment is by no means confined to the UK. In France, the scandal of homelessness and destitution among asylum seekers, and police violence against them on the streets and in the woods, is the subject of a new study by Refugee Rights Europe which is examined by Anya Edmond-Pettitt.
The prime minister’s announcement of an annual Stephen Lawrence Day, to mark his death at the hands of racists and the exposure of institutional racism in the police, prompted Harmit Athwal to reflect on the legacies of this death and that of David Oluwale in 1969.
Finally, there is still time to register for the event on 23 June at Conway Hall to celebrate the life and work of A. Sivanandan.
IRR News Team