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'Justice for Refugees and Asylum Seekers' Rally in Birmingham

IMCista | 23.06.2007 23:06 | Migration | Birmingham

A few hundred people turned up today, at the end of Refugee Week, for a rally in Birmingham organised by the Anti-Racist Campaign (ARC) to highlight the bitter realities suffered by refugees and asylum seekers in Britain and to protest against the Home Office's war on them. The event, which took place outside the Council House in Victoria Square, saw polemic speeches by members of migrant communities and groups, as well as Nottingham Zimbabwean band Ngoma, who played African Roots and Reggae "songs of freedom" throughout the afternoon.

The event was supported by members of Birmingham's Afghani, Congolese, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Somali and Sudanese communities, as well as many groups and organisations including the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, Birmingham No Borders, the South Asian Alliance and Food not Bombs.



Birmingham NoBorders statement on asylum amnesties

25.06.2007 23:26

In light of the national (now mainstream) campaign demanding an amnesty for some, selected asylum seekers[1], and even 'more radical' campaigns demanding a general amnesty for all, Birmingham NoBorders would like to stress a few points related to asylum amnesties.

Not all amnesties are the same. Those campaigning for one need to consider what kind of amnesty or regularisation they want. Some amnesties may cause great suffering and consequently result in strengthening the immigration system.

An amnesty is not a long term solution because it does not affect the causes of immigration. Those arriving after an amnesty would still be declared 'illegal', forced to work illegally for sweatshop wages and be subject to detention, destitution and deportation. Besides, there is a real danger that an amnesty could open the door for stronger immigration controls for those who don’t 'make the grade'; or who arrive after an amnesty ends.[2] It is also worth noting that the government has repeatedly ruled out the prospect of an amnesty for failed asylum seekers, so raising false hopes does not really help people.[3]

While asylum amnesties may give some security to limited numbers of migrants living in precarious conditions, they are by no means universal. A campaign for amnesty could, at best, be the basis for a wider campaign against the unfairness of the immigration system itself. While we do support the demands of asylum seekers, over-stayers and migrants in general to improve their lives, we want to make sure that all migrants are aware of the dangers inherent in amnesties and the specific dangers concealed in some of the proposals that are being bandied around.

We, at Birmingham NoBorders, believe that we need not just an amnesty but the complete abolition of immigration controls. We believe that no-one is illegal and migration cannot and should not be "managed". Any attempt to strengthen immigration controls is futile in the face of the wars, political repression, global exploitation, gender inequalities and environmental destruction that drive migration. "Stronger" immigration controls only cause massive suffering and reinforce racist ideas.[4]


[1] Strangers into Citizens is calling for a "pathway into citizenship", via a two-year work permit, for migrants who have been in the UK for more than four years. The campaign has the backing of leading church figures, trade unions, the Mayor of London and some businesses. For more information, see

[2] "Naturalisation programmes" have been carried out by many European countries in the past. Since 1981, there have been more than 20 "regularisations" in France, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. Most, if not all, of these were followed by mass deportations and new, stricter immigration controls.

[3] See here and here, for example.

[4] The new Borders Bill already allocated more funds and powers to the new Border and Immigration Agency to "deter, detect and deport those breaking the rules and ensure that those foreign nationals legally in the UK play their part in upholding the rules."

Birmingham NoBorders
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  1. How can no-one be illegal if you want an amnesty? — coherent politics?!