On Saturday 13 August 2016 the Newcastle based Migration and Asylum Justice Forum called a national day of action against the racist 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. In a strong show of strength, many different organisations and individuals stood together by taking part in protests right across Britain – in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham, Tottenham, Stratford and Brixton.
With one voice, protesters demanded, “Decent jobs, housing and healthcare for all! An end to immigration checks and controls in employment, housing and healthcare! A continued fight against racist Immigration Act(s) and an end to health care surcharges for asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.”
The call for a national day of action was made after groups from around the country came to Newcastle on 25th June 2016 to march together against the Immigration Act 2016. The groups involved agreed to go back to local communities to continue the campaign.
The 2016 Immigration Act builds on the 2014 Immigration Act. The legislation tightens Britain’s already racist immigration controls in order to make a “hostile environment” for migrants. It does this by making it easier to deport people, by severely restricting access to services and forcing migrants into low-paid and precarious work and poor housing. An attack on one is an attack on all.
This was the first in a series of national actions. Local groups will continue to campaign in their communities, developing links and will continue to grow in strength and solidarity. Another national day of action is being planned and we hope to have inspired others to join the fight and get involved in the campaign in their local area. We are fully confident that local campaigns, with a degree of national coordination, have the power to repeal racist legislation; including the Immigration Act 2016.
Please keep reading to find out how the protest went in the different towns and cities. See the website for more information and get in touch if you want to build a campaign where you live – and become part of the active fight against the racist Immigration Act 2016.
The Migration and Asylum Justice Forum held a protest outside the Newcastle RVI Hospital to demand decent healthcare for migrants and decent healthcare for all. The racist Immigration Acts have introduced a healthcare surcharge for non-EEA migrants meaning they have to pay up to £200 per person per year to access healthcare. Immigration checks have also been imposed which creates racial discrimination and makes a lot of migrants too afraid to go to their GP or hospital for check-ups and treatments. Austerity is the cause of attacks on the NHS, not migrants. Any campaign to defend the NHS must have anti-racism at its core.
The British Medical Association (BMA) recently passed motions condemning the new laws, stating that they do not want any NHS staff (including admin staff) administering immigration checks and they are opposed to migrants being charged for healthcare. Our protest was in solidarity with the BMA’s excellent anti-racist stance.
We got a lot of support from people going to the hospital and passing-by. We will continue the campaign to demand decent healthcare for all. We aim to build a strong relationship with the BMA, junior doctors and Keep Our NHS Public in order to fight for a healthcare system that meets the needs of everyone in our communities.
The protest was also supported by Beyond Borders, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Keep Our NHS Public and Peace of Mind.
We have a public meeting about healthcare, racism and austerity on Saturday 27th August, 4pm in the Multilingual Library, Upper Level, Eldon Gardens (in Eldon Square) NE1 7RA.
Migrant Solidarity Network targeted Byron Burgers Lothian Road branch in Edinburgh today. This followed a successful protest last Friday at Byron’s North Bridge restaurant where we had leafleted the customers inside and surrounded the entrance, drawing in the Fringe Festival passers-by. Today the management were ready for us and blocked us from making links with the workers inside, aggressively pushing some of the peaceful protesters. We had collected tips for the Byron workers and written messages of solidarity, highlighting that Byron were exploiting workers in Edinburgh alongside their exploitation and racist targeting of migrant workers in London, but we were unable to get these through the shut doors or past the clutches of the management. We chanted and leafleted along the shop front for two hours, protesting against the deportation of 35 staff after they had been told to attend a bogus health and safety meeting that turned out to be an immigration raid. This collaboration with the immigration police is part and parcel of the roll out of the new Immigration Act passed in May which means more raids, more powers of deportation, more immigration checks from landlords, in hospitals, GPs surgeries, banks, job centres, and increased attacks on migrant rights.
We say- No one is illegal! Stop all immigration checks and deportations! Boycott Byron burgers, defend migrant workers! An attack on one is an attack on all! We are here! We will stay! We won’t give our rights away!
Next organising meeting Friday 9 September 6.30pm at ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place EH7 5HA
The Migrants Solidarity Network is a platform of groups and individuals working together to organise against racist immigration laws and to defend migrant rights. Supporting today’s protest were activists from Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, International Workers of the World (IWW), Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, Rise, Oficina Precaria (OP-PIE), Revolution (Scottish section of the International Marxist Tendency), Socialist Workers Party and others.
Manchester Revolutionary Communist Group/Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (RCG/FRFI) organised a protest against the Immigration Act with our friends from Manchester Migrant Solidarity (Misol), taking over the airwaves in Piccadilly Gardens with speeches, chanting and songs. Passers-by stopped to sign the petition to scrap the racist Act and asylum seeking women led chants of “Shut down Yarls Wood” and “Shut down Dallas Court” – one a notorious prison down south and the other a reporting centre in a remote area of Salford where refugees are forced to sign weekly under threat of detention. There were Congolese songs from members of Misol and Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) and people spoke of their struggle for justice against a racist immigration system, demanding an amnesty for all migrants in Britain and an end to all deportations.
A comrade from Somaliland was keen to offer solidarity to the Palestinians, who constitute the world’s biggest refugee population and are often completely ignored by the British media and cultural establishment keen to exploit the plight of Syrian refugees while letting hardly any seek asylum. Zimbabwean women led the crowd and chanted, “Free free Palestine – free free refugees” and held up Palestinian flags. Following the rally on the steps of a statue in Piccadilly, there was a spontaneous picket of Byron burgers, protesting against the chain’s collaboration with the Home Office. An RCG supporter took to the open mic to talk about the cover-up by the BBC and other media while undocumented workers were rapidly deported.
The RCG have got a revolutionary African film festival on 27 August, 1-8.30pm at the Eagle Inn, Salford M3 7DW. Films include: Concerning Violence, Moolade, Thomas Sankara The Upright Man and Cuba-Africa-Revolution!
Supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Nottingham held an open mic protest against racism in Hyson Green. Black Lives Nottingham contributed their sound system, which was put to good use, with speeches and music attracting a lot of support from people in the local area. Car drivers showed their support by shouting “Well done” and beeping their horns, while some made good use of the traffic at the junction to listen to speeches. Many pedestrians stopped to sign our petition against state racism and a few members of the local community took to the mic to speak about racism, capitalism and the need to fight back. After the open mic event, supporters of the event went on to join a local community festival to raise further awareness about the racist nature of the Immigration Act.
North London RCG held a street rally in Tottenham, north London, where the London uprisings began in 2011. Many of the local population are migrants themselves so there was strong support for the protest, as people stopped to sign the petition and listen to speeches on the sound system about state racism and the increasing criminalisation of migrants.
Today Focus E15 campaign (FE15) and the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) had a speak-out against racist discrimination in housing, in solidarity with immigrants. The main racist argument against immigrants is that there is not enough room. This is no more disputable than in housing, where we in fact live on a relatively empty island, where there are over double the amount of empty homes, as there are homeless people. ‘Room for Immigrants. No room for racism!’
The Focus E15 campaign have a weekly stall every Saturday 12-2pm on The Broadway (outside Wilko’s), Stratford E15, Nearest station: Stratford. The stall is used to raise issues surrounding housing and racism and to launch campaigns.
Phone Number: 020 7837 1688
In South London, members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a speak-out in Brixton – scene of one of last month’s largest Black Lives Matter protests – with banners and posters denouncing Britain’s racist Immigration Act. The rally was addressed by Gasim, from the Asylum Centre in west London, who spoke powerfully of the struggles faced by young Sudanese asylum seekers to access the services – especially mental health services – they so desperately need.