Defeat the Borders Bill – Don’t co-operate with racist laws – Build action now to make the Bill unworkable
• Stop criminalising refugees – seeking asylum is not a crime
• Stop arresting & prosecuting refugees who steered cross-Channel boats – quash
the convictions, free the prisoners – seeking asylum is not a crime
• No “pushbacks” in the Channel – seeking asylum is not a crime
• End the policy of deporting immigrants & refugees with criminal convictions
• Shut down detention centres, detention hotels & detention camps
• Build homes for all – refugees, citizens, immigrants – expand social housing
• Papers for all! Amnesty now!
Organise community defence against immigration raids – Home Office out of our communities, workplaces, schools, universities and NHS
Open the borders of Britain and Europe
The battle for our future
The Movement for Justice by any means necessary (MFJ) is
fighting for a New Britain that will be a nation of equality, integration
and progress. Britain is already an increasingly multiracial,
multi-national society. It is part of a world whose different
peoples are increasingly connected. It can only develop as
a truly democratic country if all of us who live here now and
who come here in the future have full and equal rights. We must
have those rights without any discrimination, wherever we
have come from or however long we have lived here. Britain
must become a country with Open Borders. It must be a society
where we have those rights as the people we are – whatever
our culture or religion, whatever the colour of our skins or the
colour of our passports, whatever our gender or sexuality.
The British government is moving rapidly in the exact opposite
direction. It is establishing authoritarian rule based on
racism. Its new Nationality and Borders Bill is a major part of
that plan. Its policies are one long attack on democracy, on
justice, on human rights, civil rights, immigrant rights and
workers’ rights. It is attacking the lives of the poor and oppressed.
It is taking away our right to protest against those attacks.
It is introducing measures that will prevent many poor
people and black and Asian people from voting (just like Donald
Trump’s Republican Party in the USA). It is using its majority
in Parliament to tear up constraints on government power.
This government’s policies are driven by privilege – and by
desperation. It is defending the privileges of the richest and
most powerful capitalists. It is desperate because the system
that makes them rich and powerful is in a deep historic crisis.
Over several decades the ruling class shut down a huge part of
its industries, or moved them abroad. That was part of its attack
on the working class in Britain. Now the declining economy
is dominated by financial speculators and Brexit is
making the decline worse.
Britain in crisis
We are witnessing the dying pains of British imperialism.
This so-called ‘great power’ can’t protect the health and safety
of its people. Its response to the Covid-19 pandemic is to tell
people to get used to ‘living with Covid,’ so that capitalist businesses
can keep making a profit. This former ‘world power’ is
increasingly isolated and scorned. This government and its
Brexit policy have increased the likelihood that we will see the
break-up of the ‘United Kingdom’ – destroying the state that
the English ruling classes put together by centuries of conquest
and bribery. This government is incompetent, corrupt and reckless; those failings reflect a political system in terminal decline.
Racism and the rights of immigrants and refugees are the
decisive issue in the battle between two alternative futures –
the New Britain MFJ is fighting for, or the crushing, racist future
that this government is taking us to.
History has made racism the decisive issue because the
peoples of the world are increasingly interconnected and increasingly
unequal. The only hope for millions of people is to
move. And the British government and its supporters make racism
the central issue by blaming immigrants and refugees for
the consequences of their own policies: the cuts and privatisation
in the public services, low pay and insecure jobs, food
poverty, housing shortages etc. They make racism the central
issue when they promote the false idea that human rights for
immigrants and refugees, and for black and Asian people, are
taking something away from white people.
Cross-Channel refugees and the government’s Borders Bill
Racism and hostility to immigrants were the driving force
in the campaign that led to the UK leaving the European Union
(Brexit). Those policies brought Boris Johnson’s government to
power with a majority of MPs, but on the votes of a minority of
the people. Its new anti-immigrant law (the Nationality and
Borders Bill) is the most brutal, oppressive and unjust immigration
law that any British government has ever produced. The
aim of this law is to stir up racism and nationalism by treating
asylum seekers as criminals. Its immediate target is the most
recent generation of refugees – those who have risked
everything in the bold attempt to cross the Channel in small
boats, because they hoped to build a new life in Britain, in freedom
and safety. The government is using attacks on those
refugees to slash the rights of ALL immigrants and asylum
Johnson’s main advantage is not the strength of racism in
British society. That is often exaggerated by politicians and
journalists. His main strength is the wretched weakness of the
‘opposition’ parties and the organisations that believe change
can only come from the rich and powerful and their political
Now more than ever, we must build independent ACTION
by the oppressed and exploited in order to defeat the government’s
racist policies and win progressive change in British society.
That action has to be led and initiated by those who are
under direct racist attack from the government. It must be principally
led by refugees and immigrants.
Mass migration is a rebellion against global inequality
The rich and powerful regard free movement as their exclusive
privilege: free movement for themselves and their
money & investments. They deny the right of free movement to
the poor and oppressed – the people who they exploit, impoverish
and dispossess. There is a global labour market for bosses
looking for cheap labour, but not for people looking for work,
safety and freedom. Mass migration is a rebellion against that
In an increasingly unequal world the free movement of
people is the most basic human right. It is fundamental to
workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, the right of
asylum and the right to life itself. The ruling classes use their
border controls, detention centres and anti-immigration laws
to deny us the right of free movement. However, those same
imperialist ruling classes are forcing millions of people to
move: people are moving to escape the poverty caused by imperialist
exploitation, the tyranny of dictators and elites who
are backed by the imperialists, the endless wars caused by the
imperialists and their rivalries, and the climate crisis (global
heating) that imperialist corporations have created by their
drive for profit.
Refugees are opening borders by any means necessary because
they need to solve crushing material problems in their
lives. MFJ demands Open the Borders of Britain & Europe, because
that is what hundreds of thousands of people are doing.
The alternative to Open Borders is a world of barbarism and
tyranny. The ruling classes condemn millions of people to
death, drowning, torture and starvation, and they know what
they are doing. That is barbarism.
MFJ welcomes the refugees who risk everything when they
cross the Channel. We welcome them as new members and allies
in the fight for equality, justice & immigrant rights. Those
who we welcome, Boris Johnson’s government fears, because
their bold action is a direct challenge to its racist ideology of
‘taking back control of our borders’.
The Government’s racist build-up to the Borders Bill
Since spring 2020, Home Secretary Priti Patel has used the
arrival of cross-Channel refugees to build racist support for the
policy of criminalising asylum seekers. The attack on people
who have crossed the Channel shows clearly that anti-immigrant
policies are not about numbers. The number of people
immigrating to Britain or claiming asylum here is falling, despite
the 22000+ who have (at the time of writing) crossed the
Channel in the last two years.
The Home Office has used dubious legal grounds to prosecute
many cross-Channel refugees. The government’s UK
Border Force arrested refugees who were steering the boats,
sometimes using a photo from a drone as evidence. Then they
were charged as though they were ‘people traffickers.’ In addition,
the government ran an ugly racist campaign of mass deportations
during summer this year. Charter flights were
arranged to Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Nigeria & Ghana, and to Jamaica.
These were ‘celebrated’ in articles by Patel in the Daily
Mail and Daily Express – two papers with a shameful history of
The Home Office is acting as though its new Borders Bill
has already become the law, but this summer festival of racism
has not been a success for the government.
The number of people who were deported on those charter
flights has been small. Only seven men were deported to Jamaica,
out of a total list of 90. MFJ and Jamaican detainees organised
inside Colnbrook detention centre and told the real
stories of the men who Patel called dangerous criminals. The
Home Office had to take many of them off the list; one group
resisted successfully by blockading themselves in a room in the
detention centre. There were only a few people deported on
the flight to Nigeria & Ghana in July. It was the same on the
flight to Zimbabwe. A later flight to Nigeria was cancelled.
Everyone on the Home Office lists for the charter flights to
Jamaica and Vietnam had the de-humanising label ‘Foreign
National Offender’ (FNO). That means they have been convicted
of a crime and they don’t have British citizenship. All
those ‘FNOs’ had served their sentences, so deporting them was
a double punishment. Most of the Jamaicans the Home Office
tried to deport have families, partners or children in Britain.
Many came to Britain as children and don’t know anyone in Jamaica.
Most of them have suffered the racism of Britain’s police
and ‘justice’ systems. Many of them experienced racism in
education or from social services.Many of those on the charter
flight to Vietnam were victims of trafficking.
They are all likely to be in danger if they are deported. The
Home Office was prepared to sacrifice them in order to reinforce
white racist prejudices and racist stereotypes. The unjust
and racist deportation of ‘FNOs’ must stop.
Stop the Channel “pushbacks!”
This summer’s charter flight plan was a failure, and the Home Office also suffered set-backs in its attempts to prosecute
cross-Channel refugees. A Court of Appeal decision in April
forced the Home Office to drop a good many of those cases.
However, there are still people who steered boats serving
prison sentences for their convictions, and the Border Force is
still arresting refugees who have steered a boat; MFJ demands
all convictions are quashed, the prisoners are released and the
arrests are stopped.
The setbacks for the Home Office, especially the failure of
Patel’s charter flight plans, are victories for refugee and immigrant
rights, so they have created a crisis for the government.
The Home Secretary has been criticised by her own racist supporters.
She has responded by increasing her racist attacks on
refugees. She has announced that the UK Border Force will
start to push refugee boats back into French waters, and Boris
Johnson is supporting her. The Border Force has already started
training exercises in the Channel. Patel is following the
dangerous example of the Greek and Italian governments in
the Mediterranean. The government is prepared to defy maritime
law and the anger of the French government.
Border Force officers have insisted that every single ‘pushback’
is personally authorised by Patel – they don’t want to take
responsibility themselves. That is a clear sign of how dangerous
and legally dubious this plan is.
However, the government has decided to make a public
show of being ‘tough’ on refugees, whatever damage it causes.
Justice for Nabil Abdulmajid! Seeking asylum is not a crime –
drop the charges now
The Home Office wants to reverse the impact of the setbacks
to its prosecution of cross-Channel refugees. That is why
it is pushing ahead with the prosecution of Nabil Abdulmajid.
Nabil is a cross-Channel refugee from Sudan and a member of
The attempt to criminalise Nabil is entirely political. All
four people in the boat with Nabil were Sudanese refugees like
him. Nabil was a victim of persecution in Sudan because of his
ethnicity. Like many other refugees, he was enslaved and tortured
in Libya. He travelled through Italy to France, but was deported
back to Italy under the EU’s Dublin Agreement. He was
destitute there and crossed more borders to reach Germany
and claim asylum. His claim was refused, however, and the
German authorities planned to send him back to persecution
Faced with that threat Nabil made the choice to save his life
and join the people crossing the Channel to Britain. He contributed
to buying a boat and was doing his best to steer it and
keep them all safe until they were rescued. They were crossing
in the night in rough, dangerous waters. They battled for hours
in the dark to keep the boat afloat while the waves crashed
around them. By the time they were rescued they were soaking
wet and traumatised.
Months later Nabil was arrested and charged because he
was steering the boat. The decision to prosecute Nabil is an attack
on all cross-Channel refugees. It is part of the government’s
propaganda for the Borders Bill, and so it is a threat to
the right of all asylum seekers and to every immigrant without
papers. That is why MFJ says We Are All Nabil.
We demand that the charges against him are dropped. That
will be the issue at the next hearing in his case, in Canterbury
Crown Court (22nd October 2021).
“Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow”
MFJ exists to build the independent leadership of and for the
poor and oppressed. The method MFJ applies to this struggle
was summed up a long while ago, in a speech by an escaped
black slave, Frederick Douglass, who was the greatest leader of
the struggle against slavery in the USA. Speaking clearly and
forcibly he set out these principles for the struggle of the oppressed
“A man who will not fight for himself, when he has the
means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others….
a man who does not value freedom for himself will
never value it for others.”
“The poet was true… [who] said, Who would be free, themselves
must strike the blow.”
“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows
that all concessions… have been born of earnest
struggle…. If there is no struggle there is no progress.”
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did
and it never will….”
Douglass made that speech to a black audience in 1857. It
was a tense and difficult time for the black anti-slavery
struggle, just four years before the CivilWar that ended slavery
in the US. In the speech he refers directly to white leaders who
opposed slavery but looked down on black people: “We may
fight, but we must fight… under white officers…. They don’t like
any demonstrations whatever in which coloured men take a
This is a tense and difficult time for refugees and immigrants
in Britain – and more generally for the black, Asian and
Muslim communities. We have too many politicians, charities
and ‘sympathisers’ who have the privilege of UK citizenship
and who don’t want refugees to ‘take a leading part.’ They want
to preserve their ‘peaceful co-existence’ with the established
political system. They don’t want refugees taking action that
might disrupt that relationship.
Refugees and immigrants, especially cross-Channel
refugees, are the front-line of the fight for human rights. They
are in a fight against the most racist and dangerous government
in the modern history of Britain. The front-line is an exposed
position. We can’t afford the luxury of peaceful coexistence
with those enemies.
Changing the balance of power
The task facing our movement is to change the balance of
power in society. We need to change the balance of power in
favour of the poor, exploited and oppressed, and we need to
weaken the power of the rich and powerful who control the
machinery of the state (detention centres, border guards, police
In practice, that means we must change the balance of
power in favour of those sections of the poor and oppressed
who are most conscious of their oppression, who are most aware
of their conflict with the state and who feel the urgent need for
change. In today’s British society that means immigrants and
asylum seekers, and black, Asian and Muslim communities –
especially the youth of those communities. Action by those
groups is the necessary force that will undermine the government’s
efforts to crush them.
This has been the consistent method of MFJ’s organising in
Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres and in our struggles
for asylum rights. Similar action has also occurred ‘spontaneously’
(though resistance is never truly spontaneous).
When a Kenyan detainee died as a result of neglect in the
former Oakington detention centre, fellow detainees prevented
a cover-up by stopping the removal of his body, taking control
of the building and contacting the media. When the BBC
arrived detainees broke down the doors and went outside to
demonstrate. Oakington was shut down within months. Similar
uprisings and exposures occurred after deaths in the
former Morton Hall detention centre.
In May/June 2014 hundreds of asylum seekers in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres took part in a
series of mass protests to demand that they be taken off the notorious
Detained Fast Track (DFT) asylum process and released.
(DFT was a system that isolated asylum seekers and
rushed them through interviews and appeals in a few days or
weeks.) In the 12 months after the protests a series of court decisions
said DFT was illegal and it was stopped.
These actions and many others shifted the balance of
power in the detention centres and between the detainees and
the Home Office. Cumulatively, they led to the government’s
decision to reduce the use of detention. Seven detention
centres were shut down between 2015 and 2020. The number
of people held in the detention system is now at the lowest
level since it began.
The movement we need to build – the action we need to take
The current stage of our struggle is marked by that shift
away from using detention centres. The policy in those that remain
is for a quick turn-over of detainees and rapid deportation.
Since the arrival of cross-Channel refugees the Home
Office has moved to using hotels and camps as places to hold
asylum seekers – especially those who came in small boats.
The Home Office says the refugees are free to come and go, but
without money they are not really free. Some of the places are
too isolated for them to go anywhere.
Each hotel needs to become a centre of organisation and
resistance. Cross-Channel refugees in MFJ have already organised
successful collective struggles against restrictions and
bullying by managers who are appointed by Home Office contractors.
Some of these refugees have spoken to journalists and
got media coverage for their action. There needs to be more action
inside more detention hotels. That will undermine the authority
of the management companies and the Home Office.
The networks of contacts between refugees in different hotels
should be expanded and used to co-ordinate action.
Such action can take many forms: collective action to get
attention and treatment for people who are ill and being neglected;
calling an ambulance if management doesn’t respond;
going as a group to reception or a manager’s office to protest
over any injustice, abuse or complaint, and refusing to leave
until you get a satisfactory answer. None of this should be left
to the individual.
Refugees in hotels need to build links and support in the
communities where they are located. We need to take to the
streets with marches and rallies in local communities, especially
in integrated communities with large black, Asian and
immigrant populations. There are many detention hotels in
such neighbourhoods. We need more demonstrations and rallies
like the one MFJ organised in Lewisham with refugees from
a local hostel. We need to show the strength of our movement
and involve local communities.
We need to speak to students in schools, colleges and universities
now the new term has started. If you are in an English
class, speak to the other students about this struggle. If you are
in a student society, (for example, an anti-racist or refugee support
group, a black or Muslim students society, or a law society)
invite speakers from MFJ. We will win their active support because
the policies and actions of this government are a real
threat to the future of all young people.
The more we build these connections and unite Britain’s
different refugee ‘generations’ in action, the more we will shift
the balance of forces and be able to defend our communities
from the Home Office. The most effective way to stop deportations
is to stop immigration raids. We can build on what is happening
already in many communities and establish
community-based defence organisations everywhere, to
watch out for raids, give warnings and take collective action to
block raids and chase out Immigration Enforcement vans.
The more we build these forms of action the easier it will be
to get workers, students and teachers to enforce a policy of
non-cooperation with the Home Office.We need people refusing
to ask questions about immigration status or pass information
to the Home Office. We need that happening in every
school, college, hospital, doctors’ surgery, local council office,
university and every workplace where immigrants, with or
without papers, are employed. The more we shift the balance
of power the more inspired and confident people will be to
defy the government.
This is a struggle we can win
Most white people in Britain are not as racist as the government
needs them to be, and British society (especially in the
major cities and among the younger generation) is too integrated
for the racist plans of the Home Office to be fully effective.
From the Home Office point of view, too many white
people who know a refugee or an immigrant without papers
personally are likely to recognise their humanity. They are
likely to sympathise with them and support them against the
In the run-up to the Borders Bill we are seeing an example
of this. The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) has said
publicly that it will continue to save the life of anyone who is in
danger at sea. The RNLI is the charity that organises the lifeboat
rescue service round the coasts of the UK. The rescue
crews are all volunteers from the coastal communities, which
are mainly white. They are rescuing desperate men, women
and children who are in the cross-Channel boats; they see their
humanity and they carry on, even in the face of abuse from
anti-refugee racists. Under the Borders Bill those lifeboat crews
will be liable for prosecution – but they have declared they will
continue to save anyone who needs rescuing.
That is part of a wider problem for the government. British
society is now too integrated to make things easy for the Home
Office, especially in the major cities where most people live,
and among the younger generation. We recently saw that
demonstrated in Glasgow, when an integrated working class
community turned out, occupied the streets for eight hours,
and successfully stopped the deportation of two Indian Sikh
If refugees and immigrants take the lead we can inspire a
whole movement of such resistance. There are many people of
all races who are angry, bitter about this government’s cynical
approach to the Covid pandemic and alarmed by its racism.
They are frustrated. They need to see an organised movement
of the people who have been through the harshest struggles,
who have the greatest need to fight and have the greatest need
to win – they need to see a movement of refugee and immigrant
This government is neither strong nor stable. It is makingup
policies as it goes along. It does not have the undivided confidence
of the ruling class. Many of the rich and powerful are
alarmed by the chaos it is creating, or they are unhappy with
the damage that Brexit has done to their trade with Europe.
If our refugee and immigrant led movement continues to
grow and wins more battles, we will inspire wider sections of
the population to join their struggles with ours. That will
change the balance of power and widen the divisions among
the rich and powerful. It will create a situation of flux in which
we can derail and defeat the racist agenda of Johnson and Patel.
We can defeat the Borders Bill in action even if it is passed
That will be a big step forward in the fight for a New Britain –
equal, open and integrated.