Every single candidate for the London mayoral elections in May – even Tory Boris Johnson – supports an amnesty which would allow illegal immigrants living in the UK for four years or more to follow a “path to citizenship”, reports The Independent.
Last month Mr Livingstone called for a “fresh start”, with a one-off amnesty for migrants without “regular status”, in spite of his party’s stance. “Migrants contribute hugely to the economic, civic and cultural life of London and the UK,” he said. “To have a substantial number of them living here without regular status because of deep-rooted failings in the immigration system, some dating back over a decade, is deeply damaging to London as well as to them.”
This is really good news. And particularly timely given this piece on AlterNet by Jessica Hoffman, calling on white feminists in the US to wake up and smell their privilege, and get to work on issues that intersect with racism, including immigration. As Women of Color Blog and others have been documenting for ages, immigration is a feminist issue – and that doesn’t just apply in the US. Hoffman talks about how “women and trans and gender-nonconforming people are suffering gender-based violence at the hands of federal immigration officials”.
We know the same happens here in the UK.
The reason this is good news is not because one amnesty solves the whole problem, or even that it’s unproblematic. But the debate around immigration has been dominated by a right-wing, racist, xenophobic “keep them all out!” framing for way too long. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a policy on immigration which wasn’t about making the rules tougher. Here’s hoping this is the first of many moves towards reform.