Two organisations with impressive, longstanding track records providing support and succour to people seeking asylum and other immigrants, are joining forces during Refugee Week to call for an end to the government’s hostile immigration environment.
London Catholic Worker hold a prayerful vigil at the Home Office every third Tuesday of the month in remembrance of all who have been killed trying to cross borders. Women Against Rape’s Refuge from Rape and Destitution campaign has been highlighting the horrific price women and children pay in rape and other violence as a result of being made destitute when asylum claims are closed (see 13 June letter in the Guardian).
Windrush has made visible the horrors of a callous, racist and unjust immigration system. These two organisations are joining forces to protest the war and theft of resources and people by Western governments and multinationals which drives people to flee; cruel legislation denying the right to safe passage and forcing many thousands of people into dangerous and sometimes lethal journeys to escape; that deprives some of the most vulnerable among us from housing, money and healthcare, undermining everyone’s entitlement to the basics of life.
Those with first-hand experience will be speaking at the vigil and available for interview there or afterwards. We will read the names of migrants and refugees who have died and remember them with photographs, music, prayer and silence.
Becky Titah from Women Against Rape’s Refuge from Rape & Destitution campaign says, “We are glad to come together to make our voices heard at the Home Office. Asylum-seekers have suffered similarly with Windrush people. The hostile environment has forced women like me into exploitation to avoid destitution: we are forced to rely on working for free as “domestics” or sex with men offering a bed for the night.”
Nora Ziegler from London Catholic Worker says “Jesus said blessed are those who mourn. The Home Office sees migrants as nameless and faceless. That is why they are so easy to refuse and deport, their deaths so easy to ignore. We are holding this vigil to bring the names, faces and the demands for justice of all migrants and refugees to the Home Office“.
- Stop destitution, deportations and detention.
- The right to work, housing and benefits.
- Abolition of laws that recruit landlords, employers, banks, etc. to report on migrants.
- No collaboration by charities and NGOs with deportations, including “voluntary return”.
- Reinstate legal aid – lives are at stake.
- Abolish fees for Family Reunion etc. – stop the government making money out misery.
- Safe passage for refugees – no more deaths – every life matters.
- Stop arms sales, proxy wars and the continuing theft of resources causing wars and environmental devastation that force people to flee.
- Stop privatisation of asylum services.
From the 792 deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean in 2018 so far , to Lillian Oluk and her two-year-old daughter who starved to death in Kent in 2014 after their Home Office application was rejected , to Dexter Bristol, a Windrush victim, who died after losing his job and having his benefits taken away , the government must not be permitted to “carve us up”  – we are all victims of the same immigration system. This vigil aims to bring people together on this premise that we all have the right to be here and that no one should be subjected to a hostile and punitive environment based on their immigration status.
Vigil 12:30 – 2:30 Tuesday 19 June
Home Office, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF