The right time for a movement against xenophobia

By Press Office
January 16, 2014

The Movement Against Xenophobia is a new campaign, promoted by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and its allies, aimed at countering the vicious anti-immigrant discourse of mainstream politics in the UK.

They are currently in the process of building a coalition of organisations and prominent individuals top mobilise and inform people on the issues around immigration, particularly those of the imminent Immigration Bill, the European Elections and the General Election in 2015.

Ekklesia welcomes this important initiative. Today, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in the Catholic Church (17 January 2014), is a good day to remind ourselves of the need to oppose systemic prejudice and promote an open, just society.

Statement: Movement Against Xenophobia

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 which is contributing to a climate of hostility and fear. Government, Opposition and other 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 accepting refugees, this 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 due to onerous financial requirements.

We reject as unacceptable 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, these measures 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 rising markedly.

* We call upon politicians and the media to end the use of language that could incite racism and xenophobia.
* 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 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 rights.
* We will 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 all.
* We will speak out against racism and xenophobia and to defend migrant communities and refugees.
* We offer our support to those in the political parties and in the media who oppose the cultivation of xenophobia and hostility to migrants.
* 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 future generations to live in.

Join with us in rejecting this move towards intolerance, and join the fight for a more inclusive UK.

* See more at: http://www.jcwi.org.uk/policy/movement-against-xenophobia#sthash.eIRYuQJ...

* More on migration from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/migration

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.