On April 22nd, 2023, over 70 protestors gathered in Halifax to rally against the so-called “Illegal” Migration Bill. Protestors called upon the Calderdale Council, to a pass to oppose the bill and the government for a humane approach to migration.

These Walls Must Fall Campaigners and Solidarity Knows No Borders ]organised a protest and vigil against the Illegal Migration Bill that is going through parliaments. The action was supported by many local groups including, Calderdale Trade Council, St Augustine Centre, Fresh Grassroots Rainbow Community, Angel of Freedom Leeds and Bradford Anti Raids. 

The so-called “Illegal” Migration Bill is a complicated legislation, which is set to destroy the asylum system as we know it. It is currently facing amendments in the House of Lords, and is likely to be changed before it is made into law. If passed, this bill would effectively make it a criminal offence to enter or remain in the UK. It would allow the imprisonment of children and authorise Home Office officials to detain and deport individuals without a hearing or legal representation.

The bill has sparked controversy and opposition from many charities and groups, including human rights organisations, the United Nations, members of the public and people seeking asylum themselves. 

This Halifax rally was part of a larger movement across the UK opposing the proposed bill. Across the country, allies have organised rallies, petitions, and letter-writing campaigns to voice their opposition to the bill. 

The demonstration began with a one minute silence to mark 30 years since the brutal murder of Stephen Lawrence, a Black British teenager from Southeast london murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993. It was an important act of solidarity, with people who have lost their lives to racism and hostility in the UK. 

We listened to various speakers including, local councillors and These Walls Must Fall campaigners. The proposed bill would make it a criminal offence to enter or remain in Uk without proper authorisation, punishable by imprisonment of women and children and deportation. The bill would also authorise Home Office enforcement officials to detain and deport individuals without a hearing or legal representation.

Protestors argued the bill is unjust and goes against our shared principles of treating migrants and people seeking safety with humanity and dignity. Migration is life, and a natural human right. We believe that people should be able to move freely across borders without fear of persecution or criminalisation. 

We also argue that the bill would disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, people seeking asylum and other migrants who have already suffered trauma while fleeing war, persecution, or poverty in their home countries. These individuals did not have any access to legal channels for migration or may be unable to apply for asylum from out of Uk to various reasons, including fear of persecution in their home countries or lack of resources.

Criminalising migration would not solve the causes of migration, such as war or climate change. Instead, protestors suggested that the UK should work towards addressing these issues and creating a more just and equitable world, where no one is illegal. 

We believe that within protesting the inhumane legislation of the British government, we should celebrate the various groups of allies joining together, and celebrate our solidarity. So, one of the many highlights of the demonstration were the music and dance by attendees. We were happy to have the support of members of the public who stood in solidarity with our message. 

Our These Walls Must Fall campaigners shared their message of change: 

“We believe that to achieve radical change in the immigration system we need to come together and fight for an alternative society, rather than tinkering with the policies and procedures of a racist, oppressive system.

This will be a long struggle, and in the meantime, we need to fight to defend and extend our rights within the current system until there will be nothing left to be done. We need to understand the system in order to fight against it.”

Such rallies and protests are a powerful tool for social change. They allow individuals and communities to come together, to voice concerns and demand action from those in power.

We are proud to say that as a result of the rally, the Valley of Sanctuary and Councillor Jenny Lynn, of Halifax, announced that Calderdale will become a City of Sanctuary.

When we raise our voices, someone is bound to hear!