In a Meeting at Porcullis House, Westminster, London, on Wednesday 4th September 2013, The theme ‘creation of a strong coalition to campaign on the issue of immigration and to change the tone of the public debate on xenophobia’. Those *attending agreed the following statement.]
It is with alarm that we are witnessing the development of increasing hostility, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance towards immigrants.
We are gravely concerned at the tone of public discussion about immigration in the press and from politicians, which is contributing to a climate of hostility and fear. Government, Opposition and other mainstream political parties are directly participating in a race to the bottom in this regard.
Migrants make a substantial contribution to the economy, enrich Britain’s culture and improve the standard of its public services. The multicultural and prosperous Britain that exists today has been created through generations of immigration and acceptance of refugees which is not recognised in the mainstream public discourse about immigration and asylum.
We believe austerity measures and public sector cuts are producing real tensions among communities living in deprived neighbourhoods. Those denied access to benefits and services are pushed to the margins of society and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
British nationals, long-term residents and their families with spouses or civil partners and relatives from non-EU countries are subject to draconian and discriminatory immigration controls that wreck family life. These measures are splitting up ordinary families through the lack of an arbitrary level of income.
We reject as unacceptable the scapegoating of immigrants that sections of the media and politicians of all mainstream parties participate in. We reject moves to oblige workers and landlords to inform on people’s immigration status, measures which will engender an atmosphere of mistrust and threaten social cohesion.
In this context of growing racism, the threat of racist violence has increased against all migrant communities in Britain – with the number of race hate crimes in London and other places rising markedly.
– We call for an end to attempts by political parties, their leaders and the media to exploit racism and xenophobia for their own vested interests.
– We call upon the Government to reject the ‘numbers game’ politics of immigration and to pursue an immigration system built on human rights and the economic needs of the UK.
– We call for the media to show responsibility and to put an end to the publication of sensational and unfounded stories which incite racial hatred and hatred towards migrants and refugees.
– We will defend the right of refugees to seek asylum in the UK under the 1951 Geneva Convention. We insist that while seeking asylum, people should be treated with respect and afforded fundamental liberties.
– We call for an amnesty for irregular migrants in the UK, allowing them to work and pay taxes, thus contributing fully to society.
– We pledge to resist any attacks on human rights. Any such attack on the European Convention on Human Rights or domestic legislation would be primarily aimed at immigrants and then used against ordinary British people.
– We pledge to speak out against racism and xenophobia and to defend migrant communities and refugees.
We want to live in a civilised society where people, irrespective of background, are valued and treated with respect. We are migrants, descendants of migrants and ‘indigenous’ British people. We stand together for a diverse and inclusive society. We believe we can live together with dignity and peace, learning from each other’s differences and contributing to a better place for us and future generations to live in.