Blog

Fizza Qureshi Feb 20, 2017
20 February marks the first national boycott and day of action by migrants, their friends and supporters in answer to the toxic anti-migrant rhetoric that has infected British political debate of late. Can this welcome development transform itself into something bigger?
Five months ago, a call for a strike by migrants was called to demonstrate what one day without them would look like. Since then it has also turned into a celebration of the contributions that migrants make to the UK. Now, it coincides with a significant parliamentary debate to exclude the President of the USA from visiting the UK because of his politics of division and hatred. Is this the beginning of a resistance to the populist narrative, and can we sustain it?
Alan Anstead Feb 10, 2017
Are walls and tighter border controls the answer to the big questions on immigration? Do they achieve what their advocates set out to do? Or should the world aim to return to a time when less xenophobia and more trust in people was the order of the day?
Soon after his inauguration President, Donald Trump signed orders to start building a wall between Mexico and USA. There is an existing fence along most of the 2,000 mile border with some 17,000 US Border Protection officers patrolling it. But is as much the anti-migrant, xenophobic attitude and intentions that led to this presidential order as the physical barrier itself. A brief history of border and city wall building does not provide comfortable bed-fellows or successful examples for the president. Not new Walls to keep people out (or in) are not new. In AD 122 Roman Emperor Hadrian started to build a wall between England and Scotland to keep the Scottish Picts and Ancient Britons out. There never was a real threat from them.
Don Flynn Feb 6, 2017
MRN’s celebration of the tenth anniversary of its work took place last Thursday at the Richmix Centre in Bethnal Green – the heart of one of the oldest immigrant neighbourhoods in Britain.
                      Bringing together friends and colleagues, the event marked what had been achieved through a decade of activity that has aimed to strengthen and improve the networks of support and solidarity with all migrants across the UK. The evening was compered by Colin Prescod, chair of the Institute of Race Relations and a leading writer, film producer and commentator on the politics of race and migration over many years. 
Alina Müller Jan 30, 2017
Last June's Brexit vote was followed by a spike in the number of reports of racist attacks and abuse. But migrant communities and their friends and supporters are determined to record attacks and abuse so that the official excuses for feeble action so far are turned into something that properly protects the rights of migrants and settled BME communities from these outrages.
                      Since the widely documented surge in racist and xenophobic hate crimes in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, every Brexit-related political statement and development has filled me, and many of my fellow migrants, with dread.
Sofia Roupakia Jan 23, 2017
London’s new City Hall administration seems keen to deliver 'fair' and 'inclusive' policies to address rising inequalities. But its public consultation so far has failed to enable migrant communities - often on the receiving-end of poverty and social exclusion - to take part in these discussions.
      Last October marked London’s City Hall launch of its public consultation about the Mayor's vision of making London a Ciity for all its citizens. In his document, Sadiq Khan outlines what he considers to be the main challenges, opportunities and priorities in key policy areas over the next four years:   housing health inequalities policing and crime economy environment, social inclusion All Londoners are invited to take part in the discussions.
Alan Anstead Jan 18, 2017
PM Theresa May has now set out her vision for a UK outside the EU. UKREN Coordinator Alan Anstead takes a look at what this could mean to real families where one partner is from an EU country and the other a Brit. Along the way he shares his personal story as someone in just this situation.
From reading Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech about the UK’s departure from the EU, it is quite clear that her government’s highest priority is to limit immigration. It would appear this is categorised above all other negotiable issues. What state the UK economy would be left in after Brexit appears to matter little so long as those horrible foreigners could be kept out or kicked out. Is this about protecting British people’s livelihoods? I think not.   
Gracie Bradley Jan 16, 2017
The campaign to oppose government efforts to collect nationality and place of birth information about school kids is gathering pace. Last weekend it held its first national conference. Gracie Bradley looks at the recent progress of the Against Borders for Children campaign, which she works on when she isn’t at MRN managing the Route To Your Rights project
              As I said at the opening of our conference at the weekend, it’s hard to believe that four months ago Against Borders for Children was little more than a Twitter message thread between a handful of willing volunteers, a draft of an open letter, and a 2-page campaign strategy.           
Fizza Qureshi Jan 9, 2017
Integration is a two-way process. Simply blaming migrants for failing to integrate or learn English isn't a viable way forward. So it's vital that migrant communities are involved in any discussion and development of a UK-wide integration strategy argues MRN Director, Fizza Qureshi
  There was a moment this week where there was a sense of deja vu with the buzz surrounding integration, which soon disappeared once it became apparent that it wasn't the Casey Review haunting us. This time it was a new report released by APPG on Social Integration launching its Interim Report into Integration of Immigrants.
Fizza Qureshi Jan 2, 2017
MRN's new Director, Fizza Qureshi, welcomes the New Year and the major challenges it brings. The picture may look bleak, but that's no reason for pessimism. It's a spur to building alliances and campaigning harder for a rights-based approach to migration.
It is a great honour and privilege to be taking the helm of MRN, following in the footsteps of Don and working with an incredibly passionate team. Although I wish it were during better times and not with the current focus on immigration being the hot political potato again.       This climate reminded me of a song I recently heard, The Temptations “Ball of Confusion”: “…Segregation, Determination Demonstration Integration Aggravation Humiliation Obligation to our nation Ball of confusion Oh, yeah, that’s what the world is today”
Don Flynn Dec 22, 2016
MRN Director Don Flynn is stepping down after a decade at the helm. Here he wishes all our friends and supporters the compliments of the season and says farewell.
  Dear Friends Season’s Greetings at the end of a tumultuous year! You may know that I am stepping down from my position as Director of MRN at the end of this month.  I have been in this post for almost exactly ten years – a decade in which immigration policy has moved to the very centre of the political agenda, not just in the UK but right across the world. Although stepping down as Director, I will be continuing my own involvement as an Associate of MRN and hope to stay in touch with all the friends and collaborators I have made across the country for a long time to come.
Don Flynn Dec 16, 2016
All over the world migrant communities and their supporters will be marking this Sunday 18 December as International Migrants Day. With the threat of the wholesale loss of rights coming from draconian immigration legislation and a hard Brexit, we should be using this to build more support for a fighting campaign to resist all the attacks on migrant communities that loom in the period ahead.
The number of people living as international migrants now stands at 244 million according to UN statistics. - a rise of 41% since 2000.  As a proportion of the world’s population of just over 7 billion the number of people mobile across international frontiers now makes up a rather modest 3.3% of everyone on the planet – up from 2.8% back at the start of the millennium.
Alan Anstead Dec 11, 2016
Is the Casey Review a positive and progressive step along the road to social cohesion in the UK? Or is it just another 'pop' at Britain's Muslim communities and a missed opportunity? UKREN's Alan Anstead takes a look.
In July 2015 the then Prime Minister and Home Secretary asked civil servant, Dame Louise Casey, to review community integration and cohesion in the light of concerns that certain groups were outside of existing policies. The report was published in December 2016, entitled ‘The Casey Review: a review into opportunity and integration’. So far, so good. Even sounds positive and progressive. But is it? Casey highlights ‘discrimination and disadvantage isolating communities from modern British society’. But she also focuses on what she perceives as high levels of social and economic isolation due to cultural and religious practices in communities that were “holding some of our citizens back but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws”. (I’ll come back to that term ‘British values’ again.).
Don Flynn Dec 5, 2016
If the UK is supposed to be becoming a more hostile environment for migrants, the latest figures from the Home Office show there is stiff resistance to the trend. It is essential that this continues.
Last week’s immigration statistics, covering the year up to June 2016, show that the movement of people across frontiers continues to be much more responsive to economic factors than it is to the highly-politicised control agenda.         The headline figures are:
Don Flynn Nov 28, 2016
The ‘hostile environment’ took another step to consolidate itself in the public sector last week. Patronising and banal in many ways, it is nevertheless a threat to the rights of migrant workers involved in providing public services
The provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 are now rapidly rolling out, stripping many important rights from migrants and refugees as they do so. The English or Welsh language requirements for public sector workers came into force on 21 November.  A Code of Practice directed to public sector employers sets out what is expected from them. The workers who will need to meet these standards of language are all staff who work in customer-facing roles including permanent and fixed-term employees, apprentices, self-employed contractors, agency temps, police officers and service personnel.
Gracie Bradley Nov 21, 2016
Gracie Bradley, Project Manager at MRN, talks about the hat that she wears when she isn’t running the Route To Your Rights project - coordinator of the Against Borders for Children campaign.
The collection of nationality and country of birth data in schools and nurseries was a change in policy announced without much fanfare last spring. The government intended to link this new data to other information such as address and ethnicity that is held in the National Pupil Database (NPD). The NPD contains the records of around 20 million people. The data is never deleted, and identifiable information on individual pupils is accessible to the Home Office, the police, and third parties such as researchers and the press.