Windrush exposes truth of racism at heart of immigration law. Build the movement to reverse racist immigration laws. AMNESTY for ALL immigrants without papers.
The Windrush generation who moved to Britain in the 1950’s and 60’s are regarded by almost everyone as an intrinsic part of British society. Their generation re-built Britain after the war, the health service, the railroads, drove the buses. Making their lives in Britain meant pushing back against the racist attacks and ‘Keep Britain White’ campaigns of the time. To be told after all these years, by the government’s Home Office, that they ‘don’t belong here’ was an overreach that has exposed the racism at the heart of immigration policy to millions of people. As a result Theresa May’s already struggling government has been left vulnerable on three fronts. Firstly the whole policy of attacking immigrants is vulnerable, in particular Theresa May’s defining policy of ‘hostile environment’. Secondly, Brexit is vulnerable. And thirdly, the crisis-ridden government is vulnerable, and it can be brought down. To stop the attacks on immigrants it is necessary to unite all of those under attack from this government.
The betrayal of the ‘Windrush generation’ has spelt out as clearly as the social murder at Grenfell Tower in 2017 the racist contempt in which the rich and powerful hold nonwhite communities in Britain. Their willingness to put black, immigrant and working class lives at risk is undiminished. The question for the government now is how to conceal the reality that the same racist hypocrisy applied to the Windrush generation also applies to generations of black and brown peoples from Africa and South Asia too. The question we must answer is how to unite immigrant rights fighters inside and outside detention centres, asylum seekers and other immigrants, young and old, newcomers and long-established, from across all the commonwealth countries and beyond.
Action, led by a new generation of youth and the immigrant communities, can turn the tables on the decades of poisonous immigrant-bashing politics. MFJ is building a movement that speaks the plain truth about racism, with optimism and prepared to act on our collective power to decisively win.
There are misleaders advising the Windrush generation not to fight over wider immigrant rights. But no one is safe unless we defeat whole racist attack on immigrants, including the biggest anti-immigrant attack that is Brexit. MFJ fights to defend and extend the free movement of people. Attempts to divide Caribbean, African and South Asian communities must be rejected. Sustaining these divisions can only hurt our movement and hold us all back from achieving our goals. Our movement must reject the false claim that being ‘anti-immigrant’ is somehow different to being racist. In reality anti-immigrant rhetoric always emboldens racism generally. We must unite all sections of our communities, and reject phoney divisions. We demand AMNESTY for ALL immigrants.
Theresa May’s government is weakened and is reeling. It is divided over Brexit, and its ‘Hostile Environment’ policies are out of control. Days ago Amber Rudd was forced to resign as Home Secretary for her part in implementing the very policies that elevated Theresa May’s career. May’s reputation as Home Secretary propelled her to Prime Minister as an acceptable candidate to the right-wing Brexiteers of her Party. She made an asset out of cruelty. As Home Secretary May saw a benefit in creating the hostile environment, as a way to demoralise and strike fear. Ending rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea so when people drown it might turn back other refugees. Deporting a popular straight-A student, Yashika, weeks before her A’level exams. Deporting a Nigeria asylum seeker, Isa Muazu, so ill after 100+ days of hunger strike he could not walk. May sent out racist ‘Go Home’ vans to drive around black neighborhoods; spent millions on fences at Calais while fighting in court to stop refugee children at the Calais border from entering Britain; struck down the visa’s of 50,000 international students at a stroke on the untested accusation of cheating the English Language entrance exam. The elderly of Windrush, their children, young people, refugees, all just collateral damage. May relished attaining her ‘tough’ reputation.
Now the chickens came home to roost: May has been humiliated by her own racism. She had to appear before the Caribbean prime ministers ahead of the Commonwealth conference and apologise for the harassment, detention and deportation of men and women in their ‘60s and ’70 who have lived in Britain since childhood. The crisis is not down to unfortunate wording as the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, claims. It was not a mistake by the Home Office – it was deliberate government policy.
The government whips up anti-immigrant racism. Clamping down on immigration – their scapegoat for their failing economic policy – suggests they are being ‘tough’ on the ‘problem’. In reality new and past generations from the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia, integrated into working class communities, challenged racial prejudice, positively impacting white people, to gain a more critical understanding about Britain and its relationship to the rest of the world, to identify with international struggles against oppression and take the side of the oppressed against British imperialism. Immigration represented a dynamic awakening for the working class. The presence of black and brown people was considered a ‘risk to race relations’, by politicians who could not see past their own racism. Maintaining racism diminishes the aspirations and strength of the working class and poor.
AMNESTY – ‘we shouldn’t have to prove anything’. Solve ‘illegal’ immigration by making the people ‘legal’.
Immigration law in Britain is racially based. It is a study in the art of using race to discriminate, without mentioning ‘race’. When the ‘Windrush generation’ came to Britain it had been a time when everyone from Commonwealth countries and remaining British colonies were British subjects and had unrestricted access to the UK. The laws that introduced a cut off were devised as a way to stop access to the UK for “coloured immigrants”, while keeping access for white people. These laws, brought in by the Labour and Tory governments, were in reality a colour bar – a ‘No Blacks, No Asians’ colour bar still in operation today and they underpin the attack on the Windrush generation.
None of the apologies or promises made so far by Rudd or Javid, remove that colour bar. Labour has yet to break from it’s past by calling for amnesty. Those who can trace a parent or grandparent who was British and born in Britain had a right of access. But the children who followed their parents to Britain after 1972 were denied that right and are among those being rounded up as ‘illegal’. The law was only meant to protect white people’s freedom of movement.
The multiple tiers of statuses locks thousands of us into a permanent second class. Our movement must not be tied to the racist premise of past immigration laws, or limit our demands to fit within the premise of those racist laws passed down over the decades. We can fight for much more. We can reverse decades of racist immigration policy and fight for a new Britain, multi-racial and based on real equality if we organise and fight, and we don’t let anyone make us afraid of our own power.
The government’s racist policies make more enemies every day. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Caribbean, Asian and African people who the government is trying to deport are in Britain’s schools, colleges and universities, alongside thousands of new, young immigrants from around the world. It is our families that are being broken up, cynically shifted into the category of ‘illegal’, our rights and freedom that are being taken away, and our futures that are threatened.
The current government has clung harder and dearer to it’s immigrant-bashing policy as it drives down the standard of living for the vast majority, long after the rich recovered from the 2008 crash. Ideologically driven attacks on the NHS, education, social housing and welfare measures could not be achieved without the weapon of racist divide-and-rule. Brexit has been the biggest vehicle for racism and reaction, and if not stopped, it brings with it a further bonfire of rights and new wave of anti-immigrant attacks. MFJ says NO fortress Europe and NO Fortress Britain: in the crisis of the rich and exploiting classes they argue over which is the best way for them to exploit us, and compete between themselves to do so, while climate change, weather extremes, wars, famine and deepening poverty swallow up the majority of the world and drive ordinary people to open borders themselves to find a solution to their real lives.
We stand with the people opening the borders – the united poor and exploited must produce it’s own leaders and set a new course based on building anti-racist and internationalist movement, speaking to and for the exploited and oppressed.