migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

Changing the migration debate

Changing the migration debate

MV

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Changing the migration debate

2017 has been a whirlwind of a year; full of change, challenge, and potential opportunity. 2018 looks set to be no different.

The world’s migrants have had to contend with a difficult year – widespread support across Europe for political parties preaching hatred and hostility, harmful refugee policies like the US travel ban or the failure to provide safe routes to Europe which has caused misery and death in the Mediterranean. Brexit proceedings are still failing to effectively guarantee the rights of EU nationals’ in the UK. Secret deportation flights, border checks in hospitals and separated families have been normalised.

But there has been hope too, and at Migrant Voice we have been busy turning that hope into action. In January we brought ministers, migrants and academics together in Glasgow to discuss the future of migration after Brexit, making the evening news. In February we exposed shocking conditions in asylum housing as part of a parliamentary report, and we are now continuing to apply pressure as the housing contracts go out for renewal. In March we helped deported grandmother Irene Clennell go globally viral after she was forced away from her family with just £12 in her pocket. Polling showed a huge majority of the public supporting her, and she is now home.

Throughout the spring and summer we also took up the issue of the Dublin Regulation – an EU framework which has seen refugees sent to countries where they were abused – with both UK and EU legislators. We mobilised discussions on migration during the snap general election and in May we wrote an alternative manifesto, before going on to meet the immigration minister to discuss EU citizens' rights. We had lighter-hearted events too, such as a football match between refugees celebrating unity and hope.

During the autumn we were part of a national conversation about social integration, leading into our groundbreaking photography project. We also ran a campaign on rogue immigration solicitors, and looked at migrant rights in the workplace. The passion and enthusiasm of our members has made a real difference.

In 2018 we will continue to apply that passion and enthusiasm to changing the migration debate, and arguing for migration policy with a human face.

The government’s push to bring down migration at any cost has had a devastating and divisive impact. Border control duties have been farmed out to teachers and doctors, turning our communities into checkpoints. The financial and human cost of the current system is too great, and it’s up to all of us to change things.

With politics changing rapidly, we have a historic opportunity to determine the kind of country we want to live in. For too long our migration debate has been dominated by scaremongering and short-termism.

In 2018 we will keep fighting for an approach motivated not by arbitrary caps on numbers, but by an understanding of the social and economic interests of our country, and its place in the world. And we will continue to do all we can to ensure that migrants and migrant communities in the UK have our voices heard at every level, as a legitimate part of public debate.