Campaign against immigration reporting
National launch event,
Wednesday 3 March
Meeting notes soon…
On March 3rd 2021, over 180 people attended the online launch event for the campaign to abolish immigration reporting. The campaign working group will publish notes of the meeting soon. To stay up to date, be sure and sign up email updates from These Walls Must Fall.
About the meeting
In February 2021 over 50 refugee and migrant campaigners, representing groups from across Britain, met to discuss a national campaign for change in the immigration bail reporting system. The meeting was hosted and facilitated by Migrants Organise and These Walls Must Fall organisers from Right to Remain. From this meeting, working groups of people impacted by reporting/signing have formed, and are working to organise the upcoming event and to develop campaign strategy.
At this launch event, the working groups presented aims, principles and strategy for discussion and development. From here, we can build a strong, united network. Let’s do this!
What’s the campaign about?
Around 90,000 people are required to regularly travel to “sign on” at an Immigration Reporting Centre, while they wait for a final decision on their application to live in the UK. Every appointment carries the risk of being randomly taken to a detention centre.
During the pandemic, this system has come into sharp focus. It has always been an unnecessary, unfair system of surveillance and harassment. Living under this regime day after day, month after month, year after year, can cause serious and long term damage to people’s mental health. Many have described the system as being like mental torture.
Now, under Covid, it is deadly. During the first lockdown, we discovered that keeping in touch without being in the same physical space is not all that difficult. After the pandemic, there should be no going back to the “business as usual” of the hostile environment.
Join us, to demand fairer, safer, inclusive communities!
“For most of us, the psychological scars and ramifications of life we left behind come to light when asked to report to police stations – like in dictatorial regimes.
“As a father, I had to report with my children who were strip-searched next to me.
“To be subjected to this level of constant monitoring is unbearable, degradable, and amounts to psychological torture.”
Boucka Stephane Koffi,
These Walls Must Fall Campaigner in Yorkshire
PROGRESS SO FAR
On 3rd February 2021, over fifty migrant campaigners, representing groups from across Britain, met online to discuss a national campaign against immigration reporting (signing). This was the latest stage in a year of highlighting and challenging this system.
In March 2020, as the pandemic really started to hit, Migrants Organise and others wrote to the Home Secretary calling for in-person reporting to be suspended. This eventually happened: the demand was successful. However, in the autumn as we approached another lockdown, the Home Office started texting people to say that signing was starting again.
In November, The Independent published an article highlighting the dangers of in-person signing during the pandemic, and reported the legal challenge by Duncan Lewis solicitors.
The Home Office decision to restart signing didn’t make any sense. Through the pandemic we have all learned to keep in touch while keeping distant. These appointments are not “essential”, not during a lockdown, not ever.
Also in November, a group of These Walls Must Fall campaigners, Voice for Voiceless Immigration Detainees Yorkshire (VVIDY), wrote to the Home Secretary, and the letter was co-signed by dozens of organisations. This time, the Home Office didn’t budge.
Migrants Organise were alarmed at the Home Office’s “reckless” decision to maintain reporting conditions during the second lockdown, and that it was “completely contradictory” to the government’s strategy of containing the virus.
VVIDY met with local MP, Olivia Blake, who agreed to support the cause. The MP tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament (a motion which calls for a debate as soon as possible). The campaigners at VVIDY, who all have direct experience of the reporting or detention system, called on supporters to ask their MPs to sign the motion.
Now, after these actions have still not moved the Home Office, and with Covid running out of control in our communities, it is time to step up the campaign.