Borders Bill: Campaigners urge Manchester to ‘stand with refugees’

Protestors against the immigration legislation will be making the city’s voice heard at a national online event.

Manchester campaigners for migrant rights and justice will be taking part in a national online event against the Government’s controversial Nationality and Borders Bill.

Campaign group These Walls Must Fall is holding the streamed protest event on 25 November.

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And a number of Manchester organisations and campaigners will be taking part.

It is part of the Solidarity Knows No Borders week of action and aims to shine a spotlight on the darker side of the immigration system and the hostile environment those seeking asylum and refugee status in the UK can face.

What is the event?

The online event is called We Want Freedom! and it takes place on 25 November from 6pm until 8pm.

It has been organised by These Walls Must Fall and will speak out against the legislation currently going through parliament.

Speakers will also discuss issues such as detainment for migrants and deportation flights out of the UK.

It will also talk about what people can do to prepare themselves in case they are picked up by immigration enforcement and how communities can act in solidarity with those affected.

These Walls Must Fall campaigners in Manchester will join a number of organisations and individuals from across the country, including Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) and Migrants Organise as well as protest movements against detention centres such as Napier Barracks.

What have those taking part in Manchester said?

Campaigners who will be taking part said the UK already treats those seeking sanctuary here extremely harshly.

Nontokozo Malaba, a These Walls Must Fall events organiser in Manchester, said: “We want our voices to be heard by the UK Government.

“We are speaking out against the deportations and detentions.

“The system is cruel to vulnerable people who are leaving their countries to seek sanctuary in the UK.

“The way people are being separated from their communities, families and friends is unprecedented and unfair.

Manchester campaigners from These Walls Must Fall

“We want everybody in Manchester to be aware of what the system is doing. We want to encourage people to come to the event, listen to people with lived experience and then understand.

“People are going through this trauma. They are scared of going to these detention centres.”

Campaigners also spoke of replicating the spirit of helping asylum seekers which was demonstrated in Glasgow when an enormous crowd of protestors surrounded a Home Office enforcement van and prevented an immigration raid taking place.

A huge public outcry prevents an immigration raid taking place in Glasgow. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Maggy Moyo, from Right to Remain, said: “We urge the community of Manchester to rally and stand with people seeking asylum and refugees.

“They have integrated well within the community and they are valuable members.

“Help us fight this hostile treatment and refuse the new immigration bill.

“The hostile environment is escalating even more because of the new bill. Society is being made to believe all their problems are being caused by immigrants, particularly refugees and asylum seekers.

“People seeking asylum are already vulnerable and this leaves them even more vulnerable - facing unlawful detention with no time limit leading to deportations.

“This is tearing families apart and often they have been instilled with fear and can’t speak up against racial abuse and exploitation.

“It’s high time we fight and speak for the voiceless as we demand freedom.”

What else has been said?

The event will also be hearing from people such as Moses Mbano, who has spoken about an attempt by the Home Office to deport him.

Moses, who arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe, said: “People like myself are getting deported to Zimbabwe, where human rights are zero and there is no respect for human lives. There is torture, rape and murder there.

“In July this year I went to my appointment to sign in and report and they told me to take a seat. I had never missed one appointment but they told me I was being arrested for immigration violations.

“It was a shock to me. When we got to the police station they didn’t even know what the charge was.

Home Office immigration enforcement. Photo: Oli Scarff/WPA Pool via Getty Images

“I spent a day in a police cell and then we were taken to London to a detention centre. Things inside there were really bad. It was dirty, nothing was cleaned properly and a lot of the guys fell sick.

“My wife Daisy stood up and got advice and there was a campaign that I shouldn’t be deported. Eventually things went that way.

“We are standing up and saying enough is enough.”

What is the Nationality and Borders Bill?

The Government claims that the Nationality and Borders Bill will make the asylum system fairer and more effective while also removing from the UK those who do not have a right to be here and deterring illegal entry by breaking up people trafficking networks.

There are a raft of measures in the legislation, including changes to nationality law, a new “temporary protection status” for some asylum seekers, an array of more stringent sentences against people-smugglers and those involved in what the Home Office deems illegal entry and more powers for the Border Force.

There are also more ways to remove failed asylum seekers, including those who make long and complicated journeys through multiple countries from their homelands, as well as punishments for countries which do not co-operate on the issue.

However, the legislation has run into a lot of criticism. Organisations such as Amnesty International have said it will do the opposite of what ministers think it will, while the Law Society believes some of it is incompatible with international law.