A few years ago the Labour government launched a name & shame campaign against employers who employed undocumented migrants and fined them with up to £10,000 for each worker. More recently the coalition government has employed a similar strategy to tackle tax avoidance . Following what must be deemed a successful model, in a similar fashion today the Home Office Border Agency is advertising the results of its latest law & order campaign named Mayapple started in May this year. The campaign is mostly a PR operation that comes after a series of fiascos in migration and border management (some self-inflicted as in the case of the ‘net migration’ policy) that have seriously affected the reputation of the Home Office and its Border Agency.
Video and photo cameras were sent with UKBA officers to film ‘law & order’ operations (maybe inspired by the experience accumulated with the participation to the UK Border Force TV series).
However, this is not a PR operation for the 2000 migrants who having overstayed and/or breached the terms of their visas had to return home. One third was made of Indian citizens. The rest were mostly from Pakistan, Nigeria, China, Bangladesh and Brazil.
One is left wondering if there is any rationale behind these countries of origin. A devil’s advocate may argue that there is not one rationale but three. To maximise impact and minimise troubles, the ‘illegal migrants’ were carefully cherry picked according to the following criteria: a) no women and no children because human rights activists could make a fuss; b) no citizens of rich and wealthy allies (i.e. US, Canada and Australia) because their embassies could raise a few eyebrows; c) no white people because they don’t fit the stereotype of the ‘illegal’ migrants, and, added benefit, the choice would please a section of the right-wing electoral body.
There is also a further aspect to consider. As shown in an excellent piece published in the Brixton Blog, the Operation Mayapple doesn’t affect only the ‘illegal migrants’ who are eventually removed or the approval rating of Damian Green, local residents in areas that have been targeted by UKBA’s raids feel criminalised and angered by UKBA’s heavy-handiness during the arrests. After last year’s riots, the Home Office should be wary of exacerbating community relations to achieve short term political gains.
On Thursday 21 June at 7pm at Rivington Place (London), as part of the exhibition Roma-Sinti-Kale-Manush, and to mark the Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, Autograph ABP presents ‘Images and words: communities telling their own stories’ a discussion between Eva Sajovic, photographer and Christine Eyene, art critic and curator.
Sajovic will introduce two participatory projects conceived in collaboration with Gypsy, Roma and Travellers: Be-Longing (Travellers’ stories, Travellers’ Lives), a project developed in 2009, and DreamMakers, an ongoing work with young Gypsy Roma Travellers.
This discussion will be followed by a response from Nando Sigona, social scientist and co-editor of ‘Romani politics in contemporary Europe: poverty, ethnic mobilisation and the neoliberal order’ (Palgrave, 2009). Sigona will introduce a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies coming out in September, entitled ‘The Roma in the New EU: Policies, Frames and Everyday Experiences’ guest edited by himself and Peter Vermeersch.
For more info and booking a place: http://www.rivingtonplace.org/Imagesandwords
Migrant holding centre at the Greece/Turkey border, Der Standard, Austria
Read the article (in German) at http://derstandard.at/1297820074621/Asyl-Bilder-der-griechischen-Tragoedie
The main aim of Positive Contributions: Being a Refugee in Britain (Sigona and Torre 2006) is to show, through their voices, that refugees and asylum seekers contribute positively to British society, not just in economic terms but also, and above all, socially and culturally. Giving refugees a voice means creating a space where this voice can be heard – a context where it is possible to retrieve details of a normality that refugees and asylum seekers endlessly build, even in the most adverse of circumstances. The project develops the idea of positive contribution in three main directions:
- refugees enrich British society through their presence by multiplying points of view and creating an attitude that is conducive to questioning assumed truths and credos;
- their knowledge, skills and resources enhance society as a whole when they become part of the common shared values and culture
- forced migration is a result of highly interrelated social and economic processes occurring at global level. As individuals living in ‘our midst’ refugees, asylum seekers and forced migrants bring direct and actual experience of these processes to society.