From Expendable to Key Workers and Back Again: Immigration and the Lottery of Belonging in Britain

Written by:
Kimberly McIntosh
Read time:
40 minutes

When we started putting together this volume it was in response to an immigration and asylum system that was failing on all counts. It was failing to treat migrants with dignity, whether they were moving for sanctuary, for economic opportunity or both. It was failing to treat people fairly following a long history of discriminatory migration policy in Britain. It was also failing to achieve the objectives of governments – both Labour and Conservative. Unrealistic targets of ‘tens of thousands’ of migrants per year were, and are, unworkable and not in line with our labour market needs. With no time limit on detention at present, people have been held for up to four and a half years only to then be released. As our contributor Matthew Leidecker from Detention Action highlights in this volume, the Home Office gets it wrong so frequently that last year 61 per cent of those detained had to be released. The Windrush scandal of 2018 shocked the nation and brought to the fore the sharp end of the ‘hostile environment ’and its embedment into our public services.

Then an unprecedented pandemic brought the dysfunction of the immigration system and the possibility of change into even sharper focus.

The contributions in this report call for humanity and justice to underpin the immigration policies that we make; they outline what new solutions could look like and how we can campaign to make them happen.

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