The Labour Campaign for Free Movement contacted me to ask me to support their candidates’ pledges in support of free movement and migrants’ rights. I am a strong supporter for free movement and migrants rights. I am grateful for the work that the Labour Campaign for Free Movement has been doing to move Labour to a more prossive position on these issues, including getting this motion passed at the 2019 Labour Party Conference.
I have migrated myself seven times in my life, having lived in the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Egypt and Belgium, as well as partially living in Bangladesh and Jordan, where my father was working for UNICEF when I was growing. Our imigration system is systematically racists and does not properly respect human rights. It needs a complete overhaul.
I campaigned against Brexit at the referendum and as part of Labour for a Socialist Europe for a public vote on the Brexit deal (which I opposed). You can read a piece I wrote for the Labour for a Socialist Europe blog here.
I support all of the Labour for a Socialist Europe pledges, with one qualification (I am on the soft left after all and so love a bit of nuance). However, I also think that there are a number of areas in which the pledges could be made more ambitious and strengthened. In particular, I think that the immigation system and the Home Office needs to operate more fairely and efficiently. I have set out my thoughts on this in more detail below.
I hope Labour Campaign for Free Movement members and supporters will give me their first preference for the Open Labour National Committee. You can find out more information about my campaign here.
In addition to the Labour Campaign for Free Movement pledges, I pledge to campaign for:
- Putting human rights at the centre of the immigration system to make sure people are treated with dignity and humanity.
- Defending the Human Rights Act, which provides important protections for migrants and is under attack from the Tories.
- Restoring legal aid for immigration and nationality cases, including for EU citizens seeking settled status.
- The UK Ratifying the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
- A review of the Home Office’s immigration function to consider whether it needs to be broken up or reformed to make sure cases are dealt with efficiently and fairly
- The creation of a regulator with tough powers and oversight over the the Home Office and other bodies dealing with immigration to make sure they they respect human rights, are faire and and operate efficiently.
Supporting free movement
I support retaining and extending free movement. I oppose any reduction of UK and EU citizens to live, work and access education in each others’ countries.
I oppose any immigration system based on incomes numbers and targets. However, I would not want to close down immigration routes that would stop immigrants from coming to the UK for economic reasons, such as where they had a job, including jobs working for businesses. Many of the Windrush generation came to the UK to work in manufacturing, such as Bill Morris, who went on to become Secretary-General of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU).
I also think it is right that Labour MPs like Rupa Huq have been supporting the indian restaurant industry to be able to recruit chefs and other workers from overseas. Additionally, I am concerned about undermining the basis of current freedom of movement under EU law, which is based on freedom of movement for workers under Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Closing every detention centre
I support closing all detention centres. Detention centres are cruel and unnecessary.
We should move to a community based system for detention, using bail and electronic tagging where necessary instead. Detention Action has written this report on alternatives to detention.
We should change the approach for serious/violent offenders subject to immigration enforcement, so that immigration issues are dealt with while they are serving their sentences, rather than transferring them to detention centres as the end of their sentences, as is currently done.
In the absence of the closure of all detention centres, a statutory limit 28 days for detention would be a vast improvement on the current system. This has been recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and on Migration, the Joint Committee for Human Rights, is contained in a Parliamentary Bill introduced by Tulip Siddiq MP and is supported by Amnesty International, Detention Action, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Liberty.
Ensuring unconditional rights to family reunion
I support unconditional rights to family reunion. Being able to be with your family is a fundamental human right and something we should embed to a greater extent in the immigration system.
Ending “no recourse to public funds policies”
I support ending no recource to public funds. The current system does not respect human rights, is wrong and should be scrapped.
Scrap all hostile environment measures
The hostile environment is a racist policy and should be scrapped. After hostile environment is scrapped we also need action to remove barriers to immigrants and people from BAME backgrounds to accessing public services (for example, registering for a GP). Doctors of the World has been doing important work in this area.
Extend equal rights to vote to all UK residents
Limitation of the franchise to British nationals (and certain others) is outdated and unfair. Many UK residents without British citizenship have lived in the UK for years and made a huge contribution, they have just as much of a stake in the country as British citizens and should have the right to vote in all elections.