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Congress discussion: Jurgen and Alex on migration

The following piece is submitted by Jurgen Wolf and Alexandros Schulman as a contribution towards the development of our policy in this area.

 Draft Policy development on migration

The question of migration is both a topical one and a complex one, especially so in the collective west. In this paper we would hope to outline some of our views on Migration

In an ideal world there would be no borders, travel and migration would be as easy as pie too. However, we do not live in an ideal, far from it. As recent geopolitical events highlight, we live in a world ravaged by wars, hunger and inequality. In a world where the most vulnerable have become a blood supply to the parasitical forces of Global Imperialism, which in turn has become the main driving forces of mass migration in modern history.

Just to be clear, a good deal of our membership at the Workers party members are immigrants ourselves, children of immigrants and married to immigrants, so we are not opposed to migration itself. Given the current framework of limitations and material conditions that we are faced with, unregulated open borders would be a recipe for disaster.

Ever since the beginning of human existence people migrated in search for access to food, water, shelter and better living conditions. These movements of people and peoples across countries and even continents were in most cases contested by others whose living conditions were infringed by incomers competing for access to resources.

Over the last 3000 years the desire to access resources from elsewhere often took the shape of venturing out from one’s homeland with armed forces in order to steal from others elsewhere.

The expansion of the Roman Empire conquering much of Europe, vast swathes of land in the Middle East and Northern Africa might serve as an example, as much as similar yet smaller adventures by the Vikings, the Huns, and many others.

In the early 15th century the first wave of European colonization began with Spanish and Portuguese conquests and explorations, primarily involving North Africa, the Americas, and also including the establishment of European colonies in India and in Maritime Southeast Asia. At approximately the same period, the Ottoman Turkish Empire began expanding into West Asia, The Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa. The first tentative steps towards the establishment of the British Empire began with overseas settlements in the 16th century. Great Britain’s maritime expansion accelerated in the 17th century and resulted in settlements in North America and the West Indies. The French, the Belgians and the Dutch followed, focussing mainly on Africa, South America, and Asia. Notably, the Germans played a minor role in the colonisation since their establishment as a united nation only took place in the 19th century and they had, therefore, never the national strength to afford the colonisation efforts as their imperialist rivals at the time. The attempt to “out-balance” this disadvantage the root cause for the two world wars they instigated in the 1900s. The Imperial Japanese of course also under the threat itself from American colonisation also began a colonial conquest of East Asia which culminated in their alliance with Germany and eventual defeat in the Second World War.

The historic period of colonisation (which is still not over yet) came with unspeakable cruelty, mass murder, slavery, and destruction towards indigenous people in the lands targeted for their assets. With a few exceptions such as the Americas, Israel, Imperial Russia and Oceania , the colonial projects were never meant to establish new living spaces for the colonisers other than establishing administrators for the theft of the colonies’ resources and thus do not compare to what in today’s terms constitutes “migration”.

In recent times the imperialist theft of other peoples’ resources is not done by sending out fleets of tall ships and a few regiments of ruthless soldiers but by high-tech fighters, aircraft carriers, and bombing campaigns against mostly defenceless smaller countries. However, the aims and objectives have remained: To steal natural resources (oil, gas, rare earths, uranium, gold, etc.) and to prevent the development of a global anti-imperialist multi-polar movement which could challenge the Anglo-Saxons and their vassals’ hegemony.

Naturally, the ongoing imperialist violence through war and crippling sanctions and the desired prevention of “3rd world development” creates poverty, hunger, and desperation primarily in the global South. Millions have lost their homes and livelihoods in countries wilfully and ruthlessly devastated by imperialist aggression, mostly in brazen contravention of international law. Having lost any prospect of a decent future in dignity many able-bodied men and women left their destroyed countries in search of a better future. They had to leave behind young children, the elderly, and those too weak to travel into an unknown future.

EXPLOITATION OF FOREIGN WORKERS

The ruling classes throughout capitalist nations are deeply cynical towards immigration. They realise that with an ailing birth rate the working classes are not having nearly enough children as hoped to replace themselves so have turned to importing labour to exploit. In the post-war era, Britain and other colonial powers brought in workers from their former colonies which had been plundered to the point of abject poverty. Indeed since its creation, European Courts constantly upheld employers rights to move labour from one country to another to lower wages and to circumvent national collective bargaining agreements. From the 2000s until Brexit, Britain and other West European former colonial powers predominately recruited workers from former Warsaw Pact nations, who were highly skilled but burdened at home by crushing neoliberal shock doctrine reforms. The necessity to import cheap labour grew within the capitalist West with its own adoption of neoliberal reforms which resulted in mass austerity, spending cuts and a lack of sensible investment in their economies which resulted in the creation of less skilled workers than ever before. This reliance on cheap East European skilled and unskilled labour came to very clear view during the years of COVID lockdowns when despite restrictions Romanian fruit pickers were allowed to travel to countries across Western Europe including our own and the Heavy Goods Vehicles drivers shortages.

Post Brexit the current influx of migrants has come from other parts of the world, most notably Iran, Albania, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Syria and most recently Hong Kong and Ukraine. The NHS currently relies on highly qualified imported labour from overseas. 220,000 NHS staff come from outside Britain- the highest number being from the Philippines, followed by India. Other nations highly represented within the NHS include Poles, Pakistanis Nigerians, Egyptians and Greeks. The vast majority of these foreign nationals came to Britain due to poverty and financial crisis in their home nations. The outflux of highly skilled migrants of course leads to a brain drain.

For instance, an ICAP survey conducted in 2019 showed that 69% of the 400,000 Greek Migrants that left for Western Europe (after the crippling and criminal financial Crisis organised by the neo-imperial Troika which in effect plundered the Greek economy) had either a Master’s degree or a Phd, and a further 26% had only one bachelors degree. This is a huge number given the total Greek population is only around 10 million.

Similarly, the Baltic nations not only have experienced a vast brain drain but also a population loss in years since joing the European Union. The same is true of Romania and many other nations

To further aggravate matters our governments have a long-held practice of placing imported workers in some of the most deprived areas of the country, where local services are either extremely stretched or non-existent. The ruling duopoly both know that placing immigrants in more affluent areas would prove unpopular amongst their core donors so have continuously dumped workers in the poorer areas. During the early 1980s in West Midlands for example, Vietnamese boat people, fleeing decades of war for instance were placed in the most deprived areas of Handsworth where previous migrant workers were placed and neglected.

Xenophobia

The racial dimension of our government’s hostility towards migrants and refugees of colours should not be underestimated. One can see in the last two years clear difference in attitude towards refugees from war torn Ukraine who were given Visa free access across the west and that of Palestinian refugees who form the worlds majority of refugees and are expected to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Given a rising influx of non-Caucasian the imperialist European nations swiftly put in place a “Fortress Europe Doctrine”, assigned maritime forces to chase desperate migrants in rubber dinghies, allowing many to drown in several cases, and putting those who made it ashore into terrible camps ridden with disease and distress, making it illegal to provide life-saving assistance, and more. Further, they closed all legal routes for “migrants”, hollowing out most rights of asylum-seekers and deliberately creating a “hostile environment”, often playing the “race card” they publicly banked on the lie that unskilled labour would unduly burden the national benefit systems. The situation neared the hysterical when just last year we had the deeply depleted British army forces go to police the Polish border with Belarus to help prevent a tickle of mainly Asian asylum seekers entering the Eurozone. The most ironic part of this was the fact that Britain has never been part of the Eurozone and is no longer part of the European Union.

It is apparent that most capitalist “democracies” want to deter any “non-investor” from entering their countries using mostly derogative reasons in policy statements directly from governments and the mainstream media:

Migrants (in particular the “unskilled”) are disruptive to the white British identity.

Migrants cost taxpayers’ money in their capacity as “scroungers”.

Migrants bring their own culture which does not value the British “class-concept” of allegiance to royalty and nobility.

Migrants bring generally more criminality.

MYTH BUSTING

In pursuit of nationalist and racist policies incomers are carefully divided into groups where different rules apply: People seeking asylum / refugees / migrants.

Persons seeking asylum: Persons who have left their countries of origin and have formally applied for asylum in another country but whose application has not yet being concluded. (41% of displaced people across the globe are children.)

Refused asylum applicants: Persons whose asylum application has been deemed unsuccessful by the Home Office and, therefore have no other claim for protection. They have either to leave the UK or a forcibly returned.

Refugees: In the UK, a person becomes a refugee when government agrees that an individual who has applied for asylum meets the definition in the Refugee Convention and shall be “recognised” as refugee. Usually, in the UK refugees are given five years to remain as refugee. After that they must apply for further leave. This makes it difficult for them to make decisions about their future, to find work and make definite plans for their life in the UK.

Migrants: Persons who have moved to another country for other reasons, such as to find work.

In 2021, more than two-thirds of the refugees across the world came from just five countries all of which had prior been subjected to aggressive imperialist meddling (sanctions, boots on the ground, carpet-bombing) by the “collective West”: Syria (6.8 million), Venezuela (4.6 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.4 million) and Myanmar (1.2 million). Today approximately one in three refugees worldwide is Palestinian, more than half of whom are displaced outside their borders.

We do recognise that the asylum system is open to abuse. For example, Albanians in 1999 took advantage of Tony Blair’s destructive war on Yugoslavia to claim asylum in Britain. Many would often cross the border to Kosovo and pay smugglers to falsify their papers to claim they were Yugoslav Albanian citizens of Kosovo. Additionally, during the same period Chinese citizens of Fujian would pay smugglers to bring them to Britain upwards of £25,000 a head falsely claiming they were from the outlawed Falun Gong cult in order to gain asylum. In both instances it was politically correct to do so.

More recently there were small cases of Ukrainian workers residing in China taking regular flights to Canada just to receive Refugee status and financial benefits that came with it. At the same time many Albanians are being lured often deeply exploited by criminal enterprises to pay smugglers to get them across the channel and claiming asylum despite their being an absence of danger in Albania or the surrounding countries.

That having been said all four anecdotal cases do have a common theme: that of poverty. No affluent member of society would take such arduous journeys or risks for such meagre rewards and this must be acknowledged.

Further it is worth noting that technically there is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ or ‘bogus’ asylum seeker. Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention. Refugees make a huge contribution to the UK. About 1,200 medically qualified refugees are recorded on the British Medical Association’s database. It is estimated that it costs around £25,000 to support a refugee doctor to practise in the UK. Children in the UK asylum system contribute very positively to schools across the country. This in turn enables more successful integration of families into local communities

The UK asylum system is strictly controlled and complex. The Home Office can take months or even years to make a decision on asylum case, and there is a growing backlog of cases. At the end of June 2022, there were over 117,000 people awaiting an initial decision on their asylum case. Many families are not able to pay for the basics such as clothing, powdered milk and nappies. Almost all people seeking asylum are not allowed to work and are forced to rely on state support – this is as little as £6.43 a day to live on.

Over the years, the UK has introduced numerous policies to make seeking asylum in the UK less attractive. Most recently, 2021 to 2023 has seen the UK government propose measures designed explicitly to deter people from seeking asylum in the UK.

Public statements about recent asylum measures have focused on the argument that people who pass through safe countries on the way to the UK should be removed without having their asylum claim heard in order to deter others from coming here. Removing people to their countries of origin is often not possible: the government has determined that most people who have claimed asylum in recent years are refugees who would be at risk if they were sent home. As a result, government policy has largely focused on removing people to “safe” third countries. The UK currently has an agreement with only one “third country” that is willing to accept asylum seekers: Rwanda. This agreement was not operational as of early 2023. The Home Office seeks to achieve:

– Fewer rights for asylum seekers who remain in the UK

– An array of ‘deterrence policies’ for asylum seekers

– Reluctance and delays in processing applications

– Extending uncertainty for applicants as long as possible

– Creating difficulties to the arrival of family members

Rwanda is expected to have capacity, at least initially, for a small fraction of the UK’s asylum applicants. A March 2023 press release stated that Rwanda had confirmed it could take “thousands of people”.

The lack of safe third countries willing to accept asylum seekers from the UK is one reason few people have been returned under existing policies. Around 18,500 people were assessed for connections with safe third countries from 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2022, but only 21 had been removed by 30 September 2022 – equivalent to 0.1%.

The “Illegal Migration Bill 2023”

The proposed 2023 legislation targets people arriving in the UK through “irregular routes”, such as small boat or lorry. The Home Office does not publish data on the number or share of all asylum seekers who have arrived through irregular routes. However, it has published information on the number of asylum applicants who arrived via small boat. In 2022, 40,300 people claimed asylum after arriving by small boat (including dependants), and 45% of asylum applicants arrived by small boat. There are no published data on how many people detected arriving through other routes, such as lorries or by air with inadequate documentation, also claimed asylum.

The 2022 data indicate that the number of people subject to the new measures is likely to be in the tens of thousands.

Despite a rapid increase in the death toll among refugees on the Mediterranean, Berlin, the EU and London are pushing ahead with the next toughening of Europe’s refugee defence. While the interior ministers had already agreed on June 8th this year on new “border procedures”, which were criticized by human rights and church organizations as “devaluation of fundamental and human rights”, the final agreement on new measures is now imminent even make it possible to completely close the external borders for asylum seekers. An agreement on this is only being delayed by a dispute between Berlin and Rome over who should take in refugees who were rescued by sea rescuers. According to the UNHCR, since 2014, at least 34,000 people have died while fleeing across the Mediterranean and the Sahara. Pope Francis warns against getting used to mass death and, with a view to the Europe’s indifference, judges: “We are at a crossroads of civilizations.”

“Devaluation of human rights”

The interior ministers of European states had already agreed on June 8th to drastically tighten refugee protection. Accordingly, “border procedures” will be carried out at the Europe’s external borders in the future, in which refugees can be interned in border camps while their asylum claim is being checked; this also affects children. In addition, the rules for so-called safe third countries have been further weakened. Experts assume that up to 120,000 refugees can be crammed into border camps every year. It wasn’t just refugee and human rights organizations that came up against them. In an appeal, some Caritas Associations, Bread-for-the-World and various other church organizations had previously warned of a “trend towards the devaluation of European fundamental and human rights”; The project, it was said, shakes “the foundations of the constitutional state.” Around 700 lawyers warned in an open letter that with the regulation, Germany and likeminded states were making “the exclusion of refugees… and their imprisonment and deportation their core brand.”

“Instrumentalization” of migration

Essentially, ministers agreed on additional tightening in September 2023. Accordingly, under certain circumstances, the period within which an asylum application must be registered at the border can be extended to four weeks. The maximum duration of border procedures during which refugees can be interned in camps will also be expanded – from twelve to twenty weeks. In addition, the previous restriction on internment for refugees from countries where the asylum recognition rate is below 20 percent will be lifted; Refugees from states with a recognition rate of up to 75 percent may be detained in border camps. All of this applies in a “crisis situation” as well as in the event of “force majeure”. The category of alleged “instrumentalization” of migration is also newly introduced; This should occur if a third country promotes the flight of people into the EU in order to destabilize the Union or a member state. In this case, the external borders should be allowed to be closed, as is already the case in Poland and the Baltic states. Ultimately, it should then be permissible to intern all arriving refugees in border camps. In practice, increasing illegal pushbacks are also to be expected.

Dispute over sea rescue

Italy and Germany are once again arguing over sea rescue in the Mediterranean. The current reason is, on the one hand, that the EU wants to recommend that sea rescue missions should not be seen as an “instrumentalization” of migration to the detriment of Italy. Italy, where sea rescue ships usually land for reasons of close proximity, rejects the recommendation in order to be able to turn away the rescue ships. Germany supports it. Rome also protests against the fact that Berlin makes certain state resources

available for sea rescue for PR reasons, but at the same time is not prepared to accept the refugees taken on board by German rescue ships into Germany. Because of the dispute, the official adoption of the latest tightening of asylum law was postponed.

34,000 deaths since 2014

While the dispute over sea rescuers and the question of which country should take in the refugees rescued on the Mediterranean continues, the number of those who die during the crossing is increasing significantly. The “Missing Migrants Project” of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) puts the number of refugees who have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean since 2014 at 28,105 – at least: experts assume that the number of unreported cases is high. In addition, there are deaths recorded on the way through the Sahara towards the Mediterranean coast. The Missing Migrant Project counted 212 dead refugees in the Sahara from the beginning of January to mid-June, but assumes that the number of unreported cases is significantly higher. For the years from 2014 to 2022, the IOM was able to register around 5,600 deaths or disappearances in the Sahara, but this number is also far too low, according to the organization. The total number of dead refugees is almost 34,000 – only since 2014, only reliably documented cases.

Broken lives, shattered dreams

Pope Francis recently expressed exceptionally sharp criticism of the fact that the European states are not only tolerating the mass deaths in the Mediterranean, but are actually increasing them with their refugee protection measures during a recent visit to Marseille. “Too many people fleeing conflict, poverty and environmental disasters find in the waves of the Mediterranean the final rejection of their search for a better future,” stated the head of the Catholic Church: “So this great sea has become a vast cemetery, in which numerous brothers and sisters find themselves deprived of the right to a grave and in which human dignity is buried.” One should not get used to “subsuming the shipwrecks under ‘miscellaneous’ and the dead in the sea as numbers “It’s about faces and stories, about broken lives and shattered dreams.” Europe is “at a crossroads”: “on the one hand, fraternity…, on the other, the indifference that… Mediterranean waters with blood…”

Fight the causes of migration, not the refugees!

Around 100 million people are currently on the run worldwide – mostly in their own country. A relatively small number of them make it, for example, from Afghanistan or through the Sahara, the torture hell of Libya and across the Mediterranean to Europe. These must not be interned, Europe must not be converted into a fortress.

Cause of migration No. 1: Wars, Sanctions (economic warfare) and persecution This the reason most refugees come to the EU from Ukraine, Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan Eritrea, but also from Iran, Turkey and other countries. It is important to show the stop sign here, especially where wars are being fuelled by policies instigated by Western nations. Needless to say the people who are victims of wars, interventions and reactionary regimes have the right to seek a safer life in other countries.

Cause of migration No. 2: Impoverishment due to unfair world trade practices and neoliberal policies Centuries-long plundering of the world by Colonial powers, which continues to have an impact today where the mechanisms of globalized capitalism are causing impoverishment in Africa and other parts of the world through debt and free trade agreements. The result: people make their way North, knowing full well that they have to cross death zones (Sahara, Libya, Mediterranean) before they reach our deliberately “hostile environment”.

It is imperative that as a party must fight the aforementioned conditions that cause mass migration. We must continue to fight Imperialism and aggression in all its forms, not least those that emanate from our nation. We must push for a Globe where countries especially those in the Global South are not pressed to have their resources both human and mineral plundered from them. That having said, the people that do make it this far must be treated graciously with the dignity they deserve and treated humanely and not exploited. They are our fellow citizens and colleagues. Further they are not here to be exploited, or used to divide our working classes. Upon achieving employment should be paid fair wages the same as any other worker. If the municipalities / local councils are overwhelmed with integration, it is not the refugees’ fault, but it is owed to the austerity and redistribution policies over the last decades, which is squarely our problem to solve with the ruling class.

Almost 40 years of redistribution from bottom to top – and cuts to the general public services have led to shortages while at the top of society wealth wanders around uselessly. We need redistribution from top to bottom, also for the integration of refugees!

We call respect for the Geneva Convention and international law concerning refugees, specifically in regards to the rights that flow from refugee status and asylum seekers must be recognized for all nationalities that the UN attributes a refugee profile to.

What is the solution then to the migration issue? There is no clear and easy solution. However, as the “Magic money trees” that supply Ukraine with weapons, bailed out too big to fail Banks during the financial crisis and Multinationals during the Covid pandemic have taught us, the money is there, it just has to be skimmed from the top and the only real solution is Socialism and a fairer society both at home and abroad.

Finally, we call for the British government to immediately withdraw from NATO. Further we must provide no assistance, no infrastructures or bases; or the use of its land and maritime territories and airspace for the preparation or carrying out of imperialist interventions and wars.

drafted by Jurgen & Alexandros


2 thoughts on “Congress discussion: Jurgen and Alex on migration

  1. Germany did not start the two world wars as you say (The attempt to “out-balance” this disadvantage the root cause for the two world wars they [the Germans] instigated in the 1900s).

    Germany after unification in 1871 became an amazing example of how a country could develop economically WITHOUT AN EMPIRE. Germany developed industrially and had to develop socially at the same time, with education, training and social services, since it could not compensate economic exploitation with cheap foreign food and good from an empire.

    No wonder it had to be crushed by Britain! that sort of example could not be tolerated. Britain changed its system of alliances to encircle Germany with enemies, and jumped on the opportunity of the minor European war to finish Germany off, having demonised it as the Evil Hun.
    Then Britain insisted on unconditional surrender and declaration of war guilt after a 6 month starvation blockade in 1919.
    That created the conditions for the rise of National Socialism, which Britain encouraged until 1939, when it suddenly reversed policy and declared war.

    This is not a detail. This false assumption of guilt for starting two world wars has crippled the one European country that WAS NOT IMPERIALIST and could have been a model for non imperialist industrial development.
    We have written about in many publications, see for example Irish Foreign Affairs.
    http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/irishforeignaffairs/index.php

  2. Whilst Jurgen and Alexandros have written an excellent article, I think that the WPGB needs to be clear if there is an election what it would put in its manifesto.
    According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 1.2 million people migrated into the UK and 557,000 people emigrated from it in 2022. This leaves a net migration figure of 606,000 as of the end of June 2022. The UK population has risen by 504,000 after subtracting those who emigrated, which is a record and a jump from a high of more than 330,000 seen in 2016, the year of the Brexit vote.
    Each year, on average, the population of the UK increases by 0.3%.

    Many immigrants are here because there continue to be labour shortages- so many British people don’t want to pick fruit or work in care homes- largely because the working conditions are so poor.
    As Jurgen and Alexandros make clear, those coming here are in the main escaping poverty.

    But many are highly qualified – and their countries are all the poorer for losing such qualified citizens. And Britain gives out a huge number of work visas to immigrants because our own training schemes, such as the apprenticeship programmes, have been run down by years of Tory cuts. I propose that in relation to immigration:
    (1) people who get past our immigration controls should have their asylum application considered, during which time we do not house them in camps, barges or send them to Rwanda. We need to be clear that those that face no danger of persecution in the country from which they came need to be returned there
    (2) we train more people in the UK in the sectors where there are labour shortages
    (3) we fight for an increase in the wage levels in unskilled sectors which attract migrant workers to make it more attractive for British people to work in them
    (4) we slowly reduce the number of work visas we give out

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