The scapegoating of refugees and migrants – spearheaded by Suella Braverman’s talk of the ‘invasion’ of Southern England by ‘illegal immigrants’, and her ‘obsession’ with deporting refugees to Rwanda – is opening the door to the far right. We have seen distressing scenes of violent attacks on asylum seeker accommodation by far-right activists.
HOPE not Hate reports that in the last year alone, anti-migrant activists have visited accommodation housing migrant people and asylum seekers 253 times, a 102% increase on 2021.
Trade unionists and anti-racist activists have fought back. We have seen how in various parts of the UK that mobilization can prevent the authorities from carrying out their actions. Scotland has led the way in mobilizing against such actions with activist and members of the public heeding the call at a moment’s notice. Campaign groups such as Stand Up to Racism (SUTR), Unite Against Fascism and others have also played a vital role in preventing such actions being fulfilled by calling out their members and holding major demonstrations in capital cities across the UK.
This flagship legislation is directed at people fleeing their countries from war, famine, poverty, and climate emergency. However, instead of demonstrating compassion and justice these people are detained in run down not fit for purpose military bases which will be oversubscribed, families are torn apart and held for months in deplorable conditions with restricted access to the most basic amenities. If this new Bill passes, there will be a virtual ban on asylum. As a result, there will be tens of thousands of asylum seekers who will not be allowed to seek asylum in the UK and will be stuck in a terrible limbo, indefinitely.
UNISON has campaigned strongly against this Bill, calling on MPs and Lords to reject it completely. UNISON is deeply concerned about the lack of protection for children, especially child refugees, including the reintroduction of immigration detention of children and the powers given to the Secretary of State to deport unaccompanied child refugees.
UNISON members working in health and social work in particular have spoken out against Government attempts to make them complicit in the government’s cruelty.
The trade union movement is at the heart of anti-racist and anti-fascist resistance and trade unions should continue to resist and oppose the government’s racist offensive.
An ongoing response to racism is essential, and we as trade unionist have a responsibility and important role in that, we must continue to campaign and organise our members to challenge these racist government policies to deport people in this hostile environment by continuing to support UNISON call for action and campaigns, alongside the TUC, Stand Up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism, Show Racism the Red Card to end the hostile environment.
Sandra Charles, National Black Members’ Committee.