People move. We always have, and we always will

People move. We always have, and we always will. And when we do, we deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect – no matter how we arrived, where we come from, or the colour of our skin.

But right now, people who make the UK their home are under attack. Our politicians are willing to break international law in order to scapegoat people who have risked their lives to seek safety here. And our media amplifies negative and dangerous messages about people who move.

This is why, while the world watched the first crowning of a monarch in seven decades, we decided it was time to draw attention to the extraordinary attack on human rights that is taking place in our country at this time.

Right now, people on the move are under unprecedented attack. We have a chance to show what our values are and who we would like to be. Do we want to accept hate and division, or stand up for what’s right by welcoming people who move.

Right now, the government is pushing its so-called ‘Illegal Migration’ Bill through Parliament. If it’s accepted, it will essentially ban people from getting protection if they need it, just because of how they travelled to the UK.

You have to be on UK soil to claim asylum here, and from most countries in the world, you’re not allowed on a plane unless you have a visa – which is almost impossible to get unless you’re extremely wealthy. That means that if you need to seek sanctuary here – in a place where many have family ties or speak the language – you have to risk your life in a small boat to come.

Instead of actually helping – by creating safe routes for people to be able to claim asylum – this government wants to push through legislation that would break international law and punish people for seeking sanctuary.

This is antithetical to the values of the vast majority of decent people in this country as demonstrated by the huge outpouring of generosity towards the people of Ukraine recently. Indeed, the government itself has shown that it can take action and support people seeking sanctuary. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the government moved quickly to create the Ukraine Family Scheme, which has seen over 171,000 people supported to travel safely to the UK. Sadly, people fleeing war and persecution in other places don’t have this option. It is hard not to conclude that there is an element of racism in the differing treatment of refugees from European backgrounds versus those who come from countries in the global south.

This Bill is a watershed moment – but that’s not the only reason we’ve done this. The Bill is just one example of the anti-migrant rhetoric that has been ramping up for decades.

Migration isn’t the real issue here – people have always moved. We’re all facing very real issues, including a cost of living crisis that’s making life tougher for all of us. Instead of helping, people in power would prefer us to focus on the relatively small numbers of people seeking sanctuary here.

The reality is that we all have more in common than that which divides us. Our communities are stronger when we stand together, no matter where we are from or the colour of our skin, in the face of a system that seeks to divide us, and puts the interests of the super-rich above everyone else’s.


Who is JCWI?

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a migrants’ rights charity. We support people to access their rights under the law – whether that’s helping free people from immigration detention, making sure families under threat from the Home Office can stay together, or supporting people who have made their lives in the UK to get legal recognition. We also fight for an immigration system that is fair and treats us all with equal dignity, regardless of where we were born or the colour of our skin.

We believe that together, we are stronger.


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