All immigration controls must go

No One Is Illegal (NOII) UK challenges the ideology of immigration controls and campaigns for their total abolition. We oppose controls in principle and reject any idea there can be “fair” or “just” or “reasonable” or “non racist” controls. We make no distinction between “economic migrants” and “refugees”, between the “legal” and the “illegal”. These are political categories invented by politicians. We campaign to break down these categories and support free movement for all and unity between all.

Typical guards at a typical immigrant-prison. These are at Yarl’s Wood, near Bedford UK, operated by Global Solutions Ltd (formerly Group 4). Successive investigations have revealed systematic, racist abuse. For an up to date map of Europe’s growing network of migrant-prisons see the Migreurop web site.

According to the media and parliamentarians, immigration controls are basic, god-given fact of life. To suggest their abolition invites violent condemnation for utopic and even dangerous naivety. Even those critical of controls argue that it is necessary to be “pragmatic”, to be “realistic”, to accept that the abolition of controls is unrealistic and to concentrate on trying to make the laws “fairer” In our view this turns politics on its head. What is utopic, what is unrealistic, is the idea that controls can be sanitized, turned into their opposite and made fairer.

Immigration controls are not a natural feature of life. Though appearing timeless they are relatively new. Britain had none at all till 1905. Throughout the world (and controls are global) restrictions on the movement of people is essentially a twentieth century phenomenon — that is a phenomenon of imperialism.

Controls are a total system. They are not just external (controlling entry into and enforcing deportation from the country). They are also internal (linking welfare entitlements to immigration status). Welfare and the welfare state have never been intended for all: they are premised on immigration controls. It is no coincidence that the flowering of welfare provision (post 1905 and post 1960) coincided with the enactment of the two major waves of immigration control — the 1905 Aliens Act against Jewish refugees and the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act against black entrants. And now controls are hardening at an ever-increasing rate.As well as being racist, controls are also inherently authoritarian. They can never be “fair” to those subject to them. As long as there are immigration laws, there will be people who fall foul of them and are crushed by them. Arguing that such destruction is “something we just have to live with” is to fall into another lethal category error. Those subject to control: are human beings not vegetables or inanimate objects.

Britain now has a “state within a state” that, not long ago, was inconceivable: a steadily-spreading “Gulag archipelago” of immigrant-prisons, where people are locked up indefinitely, without trial, subjected to casual violence, for daring to set foot on our sacred British soil. Entire new career-structures exist in the new detention industry.

Tragically the fact that controls represent a total system means that the new career opportunities they have generated extends into sectors which should be opposing controls. For instance many workers within local authorities now have to assess immigration status before providing services — such as housing and social service provision. Many voluntary sector agencies (non governmental organizations) are now deeply implicated in the Home Office’s forced dispersal scheme.Within much of the Left there has arisen a strange self-censorship in respect to immigration controls. In private the Left will say it is opposed to all controls. However at the same time it argues that such a demand is “too advanced” or “too abstract” to argue in public. We consider this bizarre position is based on a pessimism about confronting the hard and popular racism behind immigration controls.

Arguing against immigration controls may not be popular — but it has to be done, and urgently. It is also possible to do this whilst presenting a concrete political programme of action against controls. It won’t be easy. Given the identification of the state with immigration controls it may well require a revolution. However a campaign to make the law “fairer” would require a miracle.

Please download, read and circulate Our Manifesto. And if you agree with us, sign the No One is Illegal declaration and get in touch.