London UNISON policy on the Nationality and Borders Bill – resist racism!

This motion was passed by Greater London Regional Council of UNISON on 2 November 2021

BLACK MEMBERS AGAINST RACIALLY DIVISIVE NATIONALITY AND BORDERS BILL


The ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ is an appalling, racially divisive piece of legislation that seeks to legitimise and elevate the unpopular, derided racist hostile environment policy. The Bill seeks to criminalise the heroic acts of refugees in carving out routes to safety despite tremendous odds to arrive on Britain’s shores, along with the many thousands of acts within our communities that has played a part in the successive defeats of the Home Office’s most brutal policies. It is likely to lead to more outrages in line with the Windrush-Scandal.
Action now in all sectors, with the leadership of our Black members, and the wider refugee, asylum seeking and anti-racist communities, is essential to stop the Bill from becoming a workable law.
We note that
The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) defied the threat of the Borders Bill to criminalise the act of rescuing people from the sea and responded by asserting that they will not break their ethical code to rescue anyone in distress at sea without discrimination1.
The TUC statement of 24th August 2021 calls on the government to “… suspend deportation flights until it has addressed the miscarriages of justice taking place within the immigration system, and to scrap the new Nationality and Borders Bill that would breach international human rights law and increase worker exploitation.”2
Timed to coincide with the launch of the Bill the Home Office organised a ‘summer of charter flight’ mass deportations and removals to sweep up any ‘low hanging fruit’ the Home Office could reach. These mass deportations during a continuing pandemic were resisted by Jamaican, Nigerian, Zimbabwean and Vietnamese communities and organisations. Work by immigrant-rights organisation Movement for Justice identified so many miscarriages of justices concerning the Jamaica flight it eventually left with just 7 (Seven) of the 90 (Ninety) people originally targeted.
However, rather than end the injustice, the Nationality and Borders Bill:
• Seeks to create concentration camps of asylum seekers on islands hidden from view, inaccessible and out of the regular jurisdiction.
• Criminalises the most important aspect of seeking asylum – the act of moving across borders to escape danger.
• Perpetuates a view of Black people as outsiders whose status is permanently in question.
1 https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2021/july/28/statement-on-the-humanitarian-work-of-the-rnli-in-the-english-channel
2 https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-calls-deportation-flights-be-suspended
• Endorses Home Secretary – Priti Patel’s public attack on the lawyers and organisations who successfully fight oppressive Home Office practices by labelling them as ‘do-gooders’.
• Threatens sanctions against countries that don’t roll over and accept deportations, such as Jamaica which resisted accepting deportees who were effectively British, had no ties in Jamaica, had been in the UK from childhood, and faced immediate risk on return.
Overall, the Bill seeks to divide and weaken the working classes and oppressed through inducing and encouraging racism. The stigmatising of new asylum seekers and other immigrants who possess the highest hopes and ambitions for a better, fairer society, denotes a clear threat to everyone who, by association of the colour of their skin, the sound of their accents and the colour of their passport, prove the historic realty that Britain’s role in the world brings the world into Britain. The dynamism and hope in our increasingly international community is a threat to any government that seeks to intensify exploitation of the working class and to extend deeper cuts to social welfare and provisions.
We therefore

  1. Support the statement against the Nationality and Borders Bill issued by the TUC.
    We call on Regional Committee to
  2. Work with all TUC links that fall within the committee’s competence, to explore ways to further the words of the TUC statement against the Nationality and Borders Bill into effective actions that can defeat that Bill, and reverse the racist hostile environment measures.
  3. Work with Labour Link to strengthen Labour opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill.
  4. Call on Labour Link to support those local authorities / councils that make public pledges that they will resist collaboration with the Home Office on its new rules which target immigrants.
  5. To launch a high-profile campaign for the region to oppose the bill from becoming law.
  6. Work with appropriate regional and national committees to develop a strategy through discussions / liaison to strongly support the campaign to prevent the Bill from becoming a workable law while in full compliance with UNISON rules.