Last Friday, 250,000 people took to the streets of London to show their opposition to the UK visit of American President, Donald Trump. With placards painted, banners brandished, and slogans ready to be sung, a group from Migrants Organise also gathered amongst the demonstrating crowds. Staff, volunteers, and supporters united with our refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking members to protest against Trump’s divisive immigration policies, challenge Theresa May’s Britain’s own damaging migration laws, and show our solidarity with migrants here, in the States, and across the world.
Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, we’ve seen a wave of reckless, inhumane and discriminatory policies which target and scapegoat migrants. Trump has cruelly separated children from their parents and locked them up in cages; closed America’s borders and refused entry to people based on their religion and nationality, again separating families in the process; and used dangerous and dehumanising language by referring to migrants as ‘animals’.
In Britain, we also still have a huge deal more work to do to make sure that we treat migrants with decency and fairness. Theresa May has failed to condemn Trump’s actions in any meaningful way and is responsible for our own draconian immigration policies here in the UK. The government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies continue to terrorise migrants; our politicians and the media peddle divisive rhetoric; and our leaders have endorsed vans emblazoned with slogans telling people to ‘go home’. There are cuts to legal aid for migrants; endless charter flight removals; and the Home Office continues to indefinitely detain innocent and vulnerable people while their asylum claims are being assessed. Meanwhile, migrants are blamed for the weaknesses within our public services and used to justify attacks on welfare and the dismantling of the NHS.
At home and across Europe, attacks on migrants are intensifying and are inscribed by government policy. Right-wing nationalism, bigotry, and anti-migrant politics are spreading across the continent; Brexit – which resulted in the highest level of racist and xenophobic hate crimes ever recorded in the UK – is the British manifestation of this global trend.
The politics of hate and racism needs to be confronted head on. The rise of the far right at home, on the continent, and in the United States threatens democracy and the very fabric of our society, but disproportionately affects migrants, as well as Muslims, people of colour, the disabled, LGBTQ+ people, and other minorities. It is vital that we all stand together and actively defend the rights of our most vulnerable people and communities, reject the structural, political oppressions of the marginalised, and show our support for groups under attack.
That is why, in associated with a coalition of migration charities including Docs Not Cops, Migrants’ Rights Network, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Global Justice Now, War On Want, The Runnymede Trust, and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, and others, we coordinated the migrant solidarity block at the ‘Together Against Trump’ demonstration. We came together to show that we will not stop until our government changes its immigration policies so that they are fair, just and supportive of people who are trying to make a better life in the UK. We also came together to show our solidarity and support for all groups under attack, here in the UK, across Europe and in the USA.
We know that the current scenario will not fix itself and that’s why it’s up to all of us to take responsibility for actively rejecting divisive policies and state oppression of migrants and our other minorities. Silence is compliance – so speak up, take action, and say no to intolerance, fear and cruelty, and yes to dignity and fairness for all migrants across the world. No-one is illegal.