Britain's hostile environment
Whilst we need to recognise the specificity of the current moment, we can't ignore Britain's exclusionary and hostile past, especially with regards to policy and rhetoric. It isn't immigration that it the issue, but anti-immigration politics.
Climate breakdown is going to require a change to immigration policy. With existing refugee conventions not covering those displaced from their homes because of climate change, how can we make sure that people are protected?
The UK government proudly calls the aim of its immigration policy to be the creation of a “hostile environment,” while refugees drown in the Mediterranean and Britain votes to leave the EU against claims that “swarms”of migrants are entering Britain. Meanwhile, study after study confirms that immigration is not damaging the UK’s economy, nor putting a strain on public services, but immigration is blamed for all of Britain’s ills. Yet concerns about immigration are deemed “legitimate” across the political spectrum, with few exceptions. How did we get here?
Maya Goodfellow offers a compelling answer. Through interviews with leading policy-makers, asylum seekers, and immigration lawyers, Goodfellow illuminates the dark underbelly of contemporary immigration policies. A nuanced analysis of the UK’s immigration policy from the 1960s onwards, Hostile Environment links immigration policy and the rhetoric of both Labour and Tory governments to the UK’s colonial past and its imperialist present. Goodfellow shows that distinct forms of racism and dehumanisation directly resulted from immigration policy, and reminds us of the human cost of concessions to anti-immigration politics.