Phoenix, February 2017: A protestor ties himself to an ICE van in an effort to prevent the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos.
On February 17, the AP reported the existence of an 11-page Department of Homeland Security memo outlining the possible use of 100,000 National Guard troops in immigration raids. The story first met a denial from the White House, followed by the subsequent admission from ICE that the memo was circulated but will not be implemented. In its place, ICE released new policy guidelines foretelling an equally draconian future.
Darkness is coming. It has descended on immigrant communities before. We survived. We shall again.
Today, the petition to rescind President Trump’s state visit to Britain signed by 1.8 million people will be debated in Parliament. Stop Trump demonstrations are planned for this evening across the country and are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to stand together in solidarity with migrants and against racism and Islamophobia.
Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant politics are the same driving forces as those behind the Brexit vote to leave the EU. In the context of the rise of reactionary and xenophobic politics worldwide, the Stop Trump programme of opposition is a joint effort with the One Day Without Us movement, staging its first day of action today. Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are staging a walkout from workplaces and places of education to celebrate the contribution migrant workers make to British society. In particular, the action aims to highlight their importance to the British economy: withdrawing their labour for a day would cost the UK £328m – 4% of the country’s GDP.
The British government is not just complicit with Trump's agenda: Theresa May has been a trailblazer in ramping up anti-migrant measures for years before her ascent to the premiership in her role as Home Secretary when she notoriously brought in 'go home' vans. While it debates the terms of Brexit, the government continues to run a brutal and inhumane detention system; demonise and deport migrants; refuse refugees, and extend the border regime deeper into British society, into our hospitals, schools and workplaces.
Verso presents a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees by contextualising crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West. This selection includes books that provide us with histories of resistance from which we can draw strength and inspiration for the fightback ahead.
A British politics reading list
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It's been a landmark year for this rainy island. Labour coup attempts, Brexit chaos, rising poverty, thriving right-wing politics, and yet! we've seen more outrage over a potential marmite shortage than the spike in racially motivated attacks.
Beyond that, there's been an accelerated rise of the far-right throughout Europe (and, of course, the horror in the US), a refugee crisis so poorly managed that an even worse humanitarian crisis awaits us in 2017, and a global climate catastrophe that isn't going away but continues to be (largely) ignored. Capitalism is still doing it's bit for the rich, whilst failing everyone else, creating a wealth divide so large that it's hard to see where it will end.
Our British politics reading list includes books that look at these very issues, as well as the historical contexts and political conditions that have allowed them to thrive in the last year. Until Jan 1: all our print books are 50% off (with free shipping worldwide and bundled ebooks), all our ebooks are 90% off.
What are the implications of Brexit for workers’ rights? Gracie Mae Bradley examines how state power creates a paradigm of juridified dispossession where government immigration law and policy tacitly sanction the exploitation of migrant workers, while at the same time encouraging a ‘hostile environment’ extending into the fabric of daily life. Brexit’s legal challenges threaten the rights of migrant workers further, but where there is fragmentation and change, new possibilities for solidarity and resistance can emerge.
Gracie Mae Bradley is a human rights worker and sometime writer. She is a Project Manager at the Migrants' Rights Network and also helps coordinate the Against Borders for Children campaign.
When we talk about workers’ rights, which workers and which rights do we really mean? Legal rights are only one component of justice and the good life, and the law itself does not contain all that is meaningful about rights. But Brexit has pitched workers into a battle with the UK government to prevent it from rolling back long-held employment rights once Britain leaves the EU, and resistance must take into account the law as much as government policy, politics, or what is happening in the streets.
Theresa May has vowed to end the European Court of Justice’s (CJEU) jurisdiction in the UK: the Great Repeal Bill (GRB) is an historic proposal to end the authority of EU law and ‘take back control’. On ‘Brexit day’, EU law will be absorbed into UK law “wherever practical.” Of course, what is practical for the government is not necessarily practical for workers.