RCG joins day of action against detention centres and deportations

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On 13 May, the RCG across Britain supported a day of action against the racist imprisonment and deportation of migrants. Supporters from London and Nottingham along with Focus E15 campaigners joined the demonstration organised by Movement for Justice outside Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre in Bedford, where over 90% of the detainees are women. Meanwhile local demonstrations were organised by RCG branches in Manchester and Newcastle. The day of action against Britain's racist system of laws targeting refugees and other migrants also highlighted the fact that neither Jeremy Corbyn or any other Labour politician is fighting for their rights – promising hundreds of more border guards instead. We salute the women leading the fight on the inside of Britain's immigration prisons and call for building the anti-racist movement on the streets.

Over 500 people were present at the height of the Yarl's Wood demonstration with banners, placards and whistles and horns, shouting and chanting and waving so that the detainees could see us. The women prisoners waved and shouted out of slightly opened windows and some had flags and written messages. Moving speeches were made by former detainees who spoke of the inhumane conditions, the struggle that included hunger strikes to stop the detention of children, on violence and sexual harrassment. These speakers make it clear to the detainees that we will not give up the struggle on the outside and their words were very powerful. The organisers managed to let the crowd hear a detainee on the phone; she demanded her immediate freedom and expressed the horror of her incarceration. Movement for Justice speakers emphasised the racist environment whipped up by Brexit.

Meanwhile in Manchester RCG supporters, alongside members of Manchester MiSol, Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAS) and City4Sanctuary, came together at Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens as part of the national day of action to close Yarl's Wood and end detention. As the sun shone brightly in the North West that afternoon, speakers took to the open mic to talk about their experiences. Interspersed with passionate songs and chants for freedom, dignity and respect, speakers expressed their solidarity towards women facing deportation and highlighted the obscene conditions and treatment that detainees at Yarl's Wood face at the hands of the British state. FRFI supporters pointed out Britain's role in continuing to create – in Theresa May's own words – a 'hostile environment' for migrants, through last year's Immigration Act, which sees immigration checks becoming a routine part of everyday life - and which every Labour MP, including Jeremy Corbyn, abstained on when it was voted through in Parliament.

In addition, Palestine activists were also out in Manchester that day to commemorate the anniversary of the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by British-backed Zionist forces in 1948. The plight of Palestinian refugees is recognised widely as the largest and longest-lasting in the world, with British imperialism complicit as Israel denies the right of return.

Both demonstrations shared the open mic and the two causes were united to highlight the link that all of these struggles have in common – the continued fight against imperialist war, occupation and racism. In Newcastle, the Migration and Justice Forum, joined by FRFI supporters from the North East, Glasgow and Edinburgh, organised a speak-out against racism, immigration prisons and deportations, in solidarity with the Yarl's Wood protest. All RCG interventions called for continued struggle.

The treatment of refugees and migrants in Britain is the brutal side effect of a capitalist system in crisis, and racism will be used by which ever party is voted in to try to steer the ship. Labour is no better than the Tories. When Labour came to power in 1997, there was one dedicated immigration prison; by the time it left office, there were 12 Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), as well as a network of Short-Term Holding Facilities at airports and reporting centres. Between 1997 and 2010, in its drive to render migration subservient to the needs of capitalism, the Labour government introduced more legislation than any administration before or since (FRFI 247 October November 2015, Nicki Jameson):

The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 removed benefits from asylum seekers and created the National Asylum Service which dispersed asylum seekers around the country and limited the benefits they could receive.

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 introduced an English test and citizenship exam for immigrants and measures against ‘sham marriages’.

The Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 reduced avenues for appeal, made it a criminal offence to destroy travel documents and cut off support to ‘failed asylum seekers’.

 The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 brought in points-based work visa system, limited the right of appeal for anyone refused a visa and introduced on-the-spot fines of £2,000, payable by employers for each employee without legal status.

The UK Borders Act 2007 introduced automatic deportation for foreign nationals imprisoned for more than one year, gave immigration officers police-like powers, and brought in biometric ID cards for non-EU immigrants.

Theresa May has a ruthless track record for the Tories, boasting as home secretary that she would make life tougher for illegal immigrants and now as prime minister her government is doing just that without any real parliamentary opposition. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! campaigns against all British immigration controls and opposes all detentions and deportations and supports all those demonstrating to close detention centres down immediately. We call on all anti-racists to join us in the fight for justice.

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Seeking asylum –   fleeing imperialism

No to deportations!

Defend asylum seekers and migrant workers!

Asylum seekers and migrant workers are organising in defence of their right to remain in Britain. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supports this fight back. We understand that racism against immigrants in Britain is directly linked to Britain’s imperialist wars and plunder around the world.

Aliens, settlers, refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers

The history of Britain is the history of migration – a continual process of people moving into and out of this country. Over the centuries Romans, Vikings, Normans, Irish people, Africans, Jews, Italians, Chinese and Indian people, among others, have settled here and have contributed to forming the Britain of today.  Since the 17th century, 17 million people have left Britain to settle elsewhere in the world. Today 2.3 million British people work in the European Union.

Wanted – cheap labour

In modern times the capitalists and ruling class have welcomed settlers because of the need for cheap labour like the Caribbean and south Asian immigrants of the 1960s or the 300,000+ migrants from Eastern Europe who came to Britain for work in the last ten years, often at or below the minimum wage, in temporary jobs with no holiday or sick pay. Overseas labour has long been the backbone of the NHS, for example, where 50% of workers now come from abroad. Even when well paid, such workers are cheap, as Britain has not had to invest in their education or training.

Not wanted – victims of persecution

The Home Office has increasingly tightened controls on those seeking safety and refuge from persecution. In 13 years in power between 1997 and 2010  the Labour government introduced successive Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Acts, each more punishing than the last. The ConDem coalition government continues to operate them all. These laws are institutionalised racism. They are designed to refuse entry to and deport asylum seekers from war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, or Democratic Republic of Congo where British multi­nationals are violently plundering its gold, coltan, oil and other natural resources.

The conditions for asylum seekers in Britain are a national scandal.

Those who bear the brunt of imperialist domination, suffering starvation, unemployment, war crimes and brutal exploitation, are then met by further brutality from the British state when they seek asylum here. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work. Employers who take on workers without permits are fined; teachers and health workers are being encouraged to spy and report on pupils and patients. Dawn raids, detentions and deportations are tearing families apart. British authorities have spent over a hundred million pounds on deportations in the last few years. This is a cost that the ruling class is well prepared to pay to hide the human disaster resulting from its foreign policy of wars and occupations. Today, for every Iraqi asylum seeker deported from Britain to Bagdad, thousands of Iraqis are leaving their war torn country for refuge in neighbouring states joining four million other refugees from the war and occupation of Iraq.

Making fools of us

The ConDem government claims that it is the national duty of us all to pay for the national debt. The Banking Crisis has been turned into a national crisis. In these conditions the government and media play the patriot game to turn the anger of British workers who face cuts in jobs and services onto the immigrants and away from the capitalists. The Labour Party call for ‘British jobs for British workers’ prepared the ground for the emergence of actively racist groups in the economic crisis. The English Defence League (EDL) and its Scottish and Welsh branches are the servants of   British imperialism’s ruling class. They are the bullies on the street enforcing Britain’s right to send armed force around the world. These are the thugs who are allowed to attack Muslim communities, supporters of Palestinian rights and anti war protestors.

Join the fight back

Where there is repression there will be resistance and asylum seekers, migrant workers and their supporters are fighting back. Schoolchildren petition and protest against deportation threats to their friends, communities protest against immigration dawn raids and low-paid migrant workers are organising to defend their rights.

The racist state’s attack on asylum seekers in Britain cannot be separated from Britain’s imperialist wars and plunder throughout the world. Let us unite to increase and build resistance to these attacks. Fight racism! Fight imperialism!