MPs call for Status Now for Migrants: Simultaneous Rallies throughout England

See StatusNow4All press release below.

Updated 19 July 2021: Claudia Webbe, Member of Parliament for Leicester East, will today call for Status Now for all undocumented migrants.

On the evening of 19th July 2021 Parliament’s Westminster Hall will debate a petition of 103,440 signatures that calls for the urgent regularisation of undocumented migrants with a safe pathway to citizenship after five years. A demonstration is planned outside of Downing Street to coincide with the debate and amplify the calls for justice for all undocumented migrants.

Ms Webbe has been leading a parliamentary campaign for a secure immigration status for all undocumented migrants. The Member of Parliament for Leicester East tabled the ground-breaking EDM 658 that called for Indefinite Leave to Remain for the first time in the history of the British Parliament. This was followed in February 2021 with EDM 1442 to reinforce this need.

Under the current Hostile Environment policy, some undocumented migrants are waiting over 20 years before becoming eligible for leave to remain in the UK. The human cost is incalculable and, financially, the immediate regularisation of undocumented migrants would save migrants, legal advice providers, and the Home Office millions of pounds.

Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare for Immigrants identified that most migrants (82%) enter the UK through legal routes. They argue that the current immigration system causes individuals to become undocumented due to a lack of accessible and affordable routes to regularisation.

The campaign group Status Now argue that granting Indefinite Leave to Remain for everyone in Britain will ensure that up to a million people will be able to safely access healthcare, housing, employment, and social support services.

Claudia Webbe MP said:

“Today’s debate is an important moment in the fight for justice for undocumented people, and I congratulate the over 100,000 people – including 1236 Leicester East residents – who signed the petition that led to this debate.

“In nearly all cases, undocumented people are not criminals – but simply those who have fallen through the cracks of the government’s callous hostile environment policies.

“Most migrants enter the UK through legal routes. Every 2.5 years they must pay thousands per person to stay. A migrant on the 10-year route will have paid £12,937 in fees. If at any point they are unable to submit the right application at the right time and with the required fee they will become undocumented – this is deeply unjust.

“Many undocumented people are destitute and living in the shadows, fearful of what will happen to them if they identify themselves. They cannot access healthcare, emergency shelter and food, nor report or seek protection from domestic violence, sexual assault, exploitation and other awful abuses.

“The tragic irony is that many undocumented people, who are living in constant fear of the British state, work in frontline services that the government have been at pains to praise during this crisis. We must ensure that all workers, regardless of their immigration status, are valued and protected as we rebuild our economy and society.

“It is essential for the Government to take immediate action to ensure that leave to remain is granted to everyone in the UK, irrespective of their nationality or immigration status, so that they can access healthcare, food and housing.

“At a time when hate crime has more than doubled since 2013, it has never been more important for this government’s demonization of migrants to end. Together, we can build a society in which everyone is valued – no matter their country of birth.”

On behalf of the Status Now Network, Grace Manyika from SARAG (Scottish Asylum and Refugee Action Group) said:  

“The fact that this debate is only taking place today because of a publicly stimulated petition demonstrates the depth and scale of disconnect between the incumbent Government’s cabinet and the people. 

“The overwhelming majority of the people in the UK know that no-one is safe from COVID until everyone is safe.  The million plus people without Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, who are currently living without equitable access to health care, including the COVID19 vaccine, housing, food and the right to work are among them. 

“Whatever the response from the Government spokesperson during tonight’s debate, we will continue until we succeed, until people like Nurse Daisy’s family can live and grow in peace, alongside and in friendship with their neighbours, their workmates and their school friends.

Ends


17th July 2021: Status Now Network: PRESS RELEASE: MPs call for Status Now for Migrants: Simultaneous Rallies throughout England

On Monday 19th July at 6:15pm the UK Parliament debates a petition initiated by Meena Ali that has secured 103,440 signatures.  It calls for the urgent regularisation of undocumented migrants with a safe pathway to citizenship after five years.  

Understanding that everyone must be able to safely access the covid-19 vaccination – but that without urgent intervention that ensures this further avoidable premature deaths especially in the African, Asian and Minority Ethnic population will continue – a coalition of MPs will be demanding Status Now for all undocumented migrants and those in legal process.  This builds on the historic EDM#1442 calling for Indefinite Leave to Remain for all migrants in the UK in order to save lives and protect livelihoods.  

The necessity of this call is further validated by the report published on Thursday by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which found that less than a quarter of GP surgeries (24%) surveyed in cities across England, Scotland and Wales would register someone without proof of address, proof of ID or legal immigration status.’ [1]

Monday’s Westminster debate will be amplified by simultaneous rallies[2] to be held outside Downing Street and throughout the UK, including Coventry, Manchester and Sheffield.  Member organisations of the Status Now Network argue that granting Indefinite Leave to Remain for everyone on British soil now will ensure that hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million people, will be able to safely access healthcare, including vaccination, housing, employment, and social support services. Explaining why they will be demonstrating on Monday, Loraine Mponela, the Chair of Coventry based CARAG (Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group) says: “This decision has the potential to be life changing and life-saving. We expect our legislatures to act with empathy and compassion. It means everything for us.”

Under the current hostile environment policy, some undocumented migrants are waiting over 20 years before becoming eligible for leave to remain in the UK.  The human cost is incalculable and, financially, the immediate regularisation of undocumented migrants would save migrants, legal advice providers, and the Home Office, millions of pounds.  Based in Sheffield, John Grayson of SYMAAG, another Status Now Network signatory says: In SYMAAG we have undocumented members, some with young children stuck in the asylum system or destitute for many, many, years and unable to work. We demand regularisation and status now for them.”

Maureen aged 35 lives in Salford and comes from Kenya. She says People with lived experience of being marginalised and excluded recognise how the Home Office’s hostile policies and practices bring about barriers to meaningful participation and engagement by migrants in the communities where we live. We realise how some of us have been in limbo for years and we are calling on our allies to join us in this fight for recognition: as people with indefinite leave to remain here in the UK.”

From the neighbouring city, Mariam of WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together, Manchester) adds: The hostile environment has made many women destitute, not able to access medical health, no money for food. It has worsened during the pandemic. The current situation continues to put women at risk of contracting the virus and not being able to access vaccination means other people risk being infected. We need the rights that come with Indefinite Leave to Remain so that we are able to access basic human needs like healthcare, including vaccinations, education and employment.” 

London based Status Now Network member, Anna, from the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium who will be among those demonstrating outside Downing Street on Monday concludes: “With COVID, no one is safe until everyone is safe.  Undocumented migrants have been worse impacted by the pandemic: no access to sick pay, workplace protection, or support schemes rolled out by the Government and, because the Government cannot guarantee a firewall between health and immigration status data, no confidence that, even if we are seen by a GP, we won’t be reported to the Home Office and face detention and deportation.  We need our status now, so that we can protect ourselves and everyone around us.”

ENDS

NOTES:

The Status Now Network calls for Indefinite Leave to Remain for all undocumented migrants and those in the legal process living in Britain today. SNN does not use the word ‘amnesty’ – because of its implication of wrongdoing.

The Network was launched on 27th March 2020 and a second Open Letter to Prime Minister Johnson was sent on 27th March 2021 calling upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, and food – and contribute to, and draw from, the same sources of income from the State as everyone else.

For further information: Dr Rhetta Moran, Rhetta.moran@rapar.org.uk, 07776264646


[1] See Migrants refused registration at Manchester GP surgeries, preventing vaccination, in contravention of NHS guidlines – The Meteor for chart describing registration rates across 10 UK towns and cities.

[2] See Regularisation of undocumented migrants will save lives and livelihoods – 19 July 2021 protest – Status Now 4 All for more information about the  places and times of rallies