Migrants Solidarity Network was constituted to create a space for solidarity, mutual support and political discussion between different migrants’ communities and different activist groups based in Edinburgh. The new Immigration Act 2016 (a law that also affects refugees) is at the heart of their ongoing campaign.
Migrant Solidarity Network and Cosmopolita Scotland
Migrant Solidarity Network is a space and a platform that gives voice to immigrants. “In the current climate in Britain, immigrants are being treated as second-class citizens, used as a source of cheap labour, hired, fired and deported when no longer needed”.
They first met in November 2015 and have been regularly meeting monthly since then. As explained by its members, the network’s objectives are “to collaborate and organise to resist the policies against migrants and attacks on our rights, restricting access to healthcare, housing, benefits and legal work.”
Their work has initially focused on resisting the new Immigration Bill that is now being discussed in the British Parliament. They explain that the platform is developing strategies to stop the Bill at its implementation. “We aim also to raise awareness and fight against the loss of human rights that affect migrants’ communities”.
The New Immigration Act 2016 was initially published on 17 September 2015 and was passed on 12 May 2016 with few amendments.
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Another main issue that migrants could face is the exit of Britain from the European Union as a result of the Leave option winning the referendum the 23rd of June.
The members of Migrant Solidarity Network held various discussions about the EU referendum and as the members explained, there is a variety of opinion about what position the network should take: “However, one issue we have consistently raised is that migrants are being denied the opportunity to vote in this referendum and we have raised the demand for the right to vote for all migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees alongside EU migrants”.
The members added that Both sides of the EU referendum campaign are dominated by an “anti-migrant, racist view” with both sides arguing they will seek tougher controls on migrants and pledging to remove our rights even further. “We know that whatever the outcome of the referendum, we will need to organise resistance to an onslaught of more racism and anti-migrant policies”, they concluded.
Immigration Act 2016 2016 CHAPTER 19
“An Act to make provision about the law on immigration and asylum; to make provision about access to services, facilities, licences and work by reference to immigration status; to make provision about the enforcement of certain legislation relating to the labour market; to make provision about language requirements for public sector workers; to make provision about fees for passports and civil registration; and for connected purposes.” [12th May 2016]
- Recruitment of foreigners. Employers must make sure that their foreign staff members have all the correct documentation in order, or both parties could be legally sanctioned.
- Economic conditions. Illegal citizens will encounter serious difficulty when accessing their bank accounts, and their driver’s license will be confiscated.
- Application of the penal code in property rental. The condemnation of landlords renting out properties to illegal immigrants will be a part of the government’s ‘fight’ against illegal immigration. Landlords could be sentenced up to five years of prison if it is proven that their tenants are illegal immigrants.
- ‘Deport first, appeal later’. This is the basis of a new law that has been approved by the government in order to reduce illegal immigration. Any migrant can be deported back to their home country at any time, and they must remain there until a court grants them U.K residency again. Up until now, this law only applied to convicted criminals.
- Deportation of pregnant women. Women who are pregnant and are detained for illegal immigration can only be kept in custody for 72 hours maximum, or for a week if under special circumstances.
- Arrangements for the relocation of refugee children. Agreements take place in order to relocate unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe to the UK.
You can check the immigration Act 2016 here.
Video recorded and edited by Guillem Lisarde