The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Charter
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) unites a call for humane immigration and inclusion policies that can truly reflect our society’s democratic values, and that draws on a distinguished history in Britain of standing for the dignity and justice of all.
The Charter emerged as a result of conversations with those who face the sharp end of current policies: with their family and friends, campaigners, politicians, journalists, case workers, volunteers, and many others who support everyone who has been affected by the increasingly careless and brutal immigration policies in Britain.
Through these discussions, it became clear that a united effort is now required to achieve the transformative change that must take place, as well as a blueprint on exactly how to accomplish these changes through a concerted mobilisation.
The FIRM Charter sets out these basic demands, as well as the core principles by which migrant communities, social justice campaigners, and progressive organisations will work together to realise.
Migrants and refugees have long felt the impact of a broken system, the hateful and misleading public discourse, and hostile immigration policies. These practices are built on the foundation of institutional racism and the legacies of colonialism which still underpins Britain’s relationship to its migrant, black and minority ethnic populations and on which the Black Lives Matter movement has recently shone a light.
The Windrush Scandal has raised awareness of the indiscriminate cruelty of the Hostile Environment Policy and the murderous impact the denial of public services has had for thousands of people denied the rights of citizenship. However, the injustices that suddenly came to light, were already well-known in migrant communities for whom these Home Office policies – such as being rendered destitute, the constant removal of basic services, the terror and trauma of unfair detention and deportation practices are everyday realities.
As national attention diminishes from the Windrush Scandal, the Hostile Environment Policy continues unabated and with force. Across the country, undocumented families are unable to work, travel, rent a home, access education, request welfare support, or seek basic healthcare without fear of detention and deportation. Many continue to wait for documents that never arrive, years of their lives wasted in opaque, unaccountable and incompetent Home Office procedures that are designed to criminalise and/or financially exhaust and bewilder applicants at every turn. Young people who grew up in the UK face intolerable anxiety, fear, and barriers as a result of the high cost of a settlement process that takes a decade to complete.
What must change?
The public arena is dominated by inaccurate stories and outright racism directed towards migrants; media outlets currently play a particularly devastating role in misrepresenting migrant life in Britain. Being ‘different’ is presented as a threat, and basic human requirements for dignity and security are dismissed and mocked as ‘political correctness’ or mere opinion, not real human needs.
This discourse has produced a disturbing and distorted picture that is popularising far-right ideology, and heavily influences public policy debates and now dominates the national consciousness.
Amidst these poisonous debates, the voice of migrant communities – their experiences and their interests – are marginalised, and worse, silenced.
The scale of current injustices migrant communities now face is beyond simple redress through any single change in the law. This oppression does not fall neatly under a single policy, nor is restricted to a narrow framework of practices; it is too pervasive to be usefully addressed by exclusively focusing on immigration rules.
The solution, instead, is a total overhaul of existing systemic injustice and a sharp departure from current policies that remain utterly tied to colonialism and racism. We must start anew.
What are our demands?
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Charter calls for an urgent and comprehensive overhaul of the current system, to be replaced with policies based on a common respect for basic rights, and the principles of dignity, justice, welcome and action.