Statement from URBC, #KillTheBill
Unis Resist Border Control (URBC) stands in rage and solidarity with Sisters Uncut and all other prison and border abolition organisations in opposition to the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill. It’s been a long week. we are thankful for all the work Sisters Uncut in London have done for linking the disappearance of Sarah Everard to wider issues about policing, state violence and highlighting the dangers of this bill.
URBC is a national campaign to end the hostile environment policy and border controls within UK higher education. In the past year, we have witnessed in horror as Home Secretary Priti Patel has strengthened the border regime to horrifying levels of brutality and violence. Just this week, it has been revealed that Patel is considering removing people who arrive in the UK to seek asylum overseas for their claims to be processed. In essence, Patel is seeking to bring the brutal Australian immigration regime of Manus Island, to the UK.
Just as Patel and this government seeks to further demonise, marginalise, criminalise and oppress migrants, they are doing the very same to demonise, marginalise, criminalise, and oppress dissent, the BLM movement, sex workers, homelessness and the Gypsy, Roma and Travellers community. The proposed Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill makes this explicit. Not only do migrant communities, which includes those with documents, under-documented, undocumented, and asylum seekers now have to contend with the renewed violence of the hostile environment policy, but they will also have to contend with draconian policing that will be used to curtail our voices from protesting Priti Patel’s xeno-racist policies.
If this bill becomes law, protesting as a migrant, particularly as a migrant of colour, could end up with deportation as a criminal sentence for protesting would ultimately prevent one from remaining in the UK.
URBC is concerned with how this bill will prevent migrants from protesting against workplace exploitation and unsafe work conditions. We have seen migrants make great in-roads in workplace rights. During the University College Union 2018 strike against pension cuts, migrant university staff members were only allowed to strike 14 consecutive days. Thanks to a surge in migrant staff striking, and demanding strike provisions in line with those of their British counterparts, strike laws changed to allow migrant workers to not be discriminated against if taking part in legal strike actions.
However, with the proposed bill, legal strike actions will be in jeopardy. wildcat strikes and protests done by migrant university cleaners as exemplified by SOAS Justice for Workers, and KCL Justice for Cleaners, would be even more difficult to organise.
URBC knows all too well how universities are quick to use the police to quell protests on campus, clearly shown by the heavy handed response to rent strikes at the University of Manchester halls of residence. And if we don’t use all our energy in opposing this bill, we will see more police and state violence everywhere, from protesting & striking on university campuses, to workplaces, to protesting outside of detention centres and prisons, and in settings like this.
So get involved. We need to keep this momentum going. The bill isn’t being rushed through anymore but it’s still there, waiting to be put into law if it passes. Grassroots organisations like Sisters Uncut are doing most of the work and if we want to prevent this Bill or oppose any other harmful legislation brought about by this government, we need to be ready for the fight.