Monday 7 May 2007

Strangers into Citizens: Demonstration Today.

Today migrant organisations will be out in force on a march called by Strangers into Citizens in support of an amnesty for asylum seekersand undocumented workers. Although I will be fulfilling an earlier commitment to speak at the May day march and celebrations in Burnley, I wish to send my support to the demonstration today.

There has been alot of discussion amongst migrant organisations about whether the amnesty proposal is a good thing. Currently asylum seekers are forced into work illegally for sub-minimum wages. If they are refused asylum they are amde destitute and even though they have committed no crime they can be locked up in detention centres. I have a detention centre and a removal centre in my own constituency.

Regularisation would give them security and enable them to join with others in demanding decent pay and better conditions.

However many migrant organisations are unhappy with the Strangers into Citizens proposals. This includes many I have worked with over the years, such as the All African Women's Group, Barbed Wire Britain, Bolivian Solidarity, Campaign to Close Campsfield, Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq, Colombian Solidarity Campaign, Congo Solidarity Campaign, Cogo Support Project, Day-Mer Halkevi Turkish Centre, Ecuadorian Movement in UK, Latin American Community Association, Latin American Workers Association, Payday Men's Network and Women of Colour in the Global Women's Strike.

There are many reasons for their concerns, particularly that the proposal includes a list of criteria which wouold exclude many migrant such as a four year residency period and a fluent english qualification. The process envisaged w old also take two years to complete.

The Campaign has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament. I haven't signed tthis yet as I want to amend it to propose a more inclusive scheme and one that doesn't divide this most vulnerable community.

I am in favour of regularisation and wholeheartedly support the motives behind today's demonstration but I hope that we can all unite behind a call for regularisation for all so that nobody is excluded.