We Come From Your Future: Dispatch One March – April 2008
Regularise Undocumented Workers
Field Composition One: Regularise Undocumented Workers
While in the UK the biggest reform of the immigration system since 1971 is on its way, first components have already come into effect: the point-based immigration system was introduced in February this year, and the newly established Border and Immigration Agency reports the lowest number of asylum seekers in 14 years; deportations occur at a rapid rate– in 2007 alone every eight minutes a person was expelled from the UK – and efforts are being taken to expand the detention estate in order to accelerate deportation procedures.
The long-term aim is pretty clear. Managing migration is the state's effort to regain a lost battle, the battle of migration: If the state has not succeeded in sealing off borders and stopping immigration in the past, it is now its objective to define who the migrant will be in the future. It is the composition of migration that is at stake.
To enforce these strategies it is not only future migration movements and current borders that need to be reshaped and monitored. In the bull's eye is the population that had already decided to enter the country and live here. Discourses on integration and British values make up for the peaceful end of this part of the plot. At the other end we find a campaign against 'illegal work' launched at the end of last year, advertised on radio stations, through posters and other means of 'public relations', and legitimated by a very common argument: 'because it undercuts British wages'. The campaign claims to target businesses that employ undocumented workers, but in fact affects the lives of those working without documents. It outsources immigration policies to the population and makes every employer become an immigration officer, makes every citizen snitching on migrants.
As a result of these developments - and in reaction to spectacularly published raids, taking journalists with cameras on a trip into London's China Town in October 2007 and arresting 43 workers, of which some have been detained and some deported - the Chinese Immigration Concerns Committee was launched to strategise against such policies.
The Committee decided upon a nation-wide mobilisation on Trafalgar Square for 20 March 2008. Earlier that month in Edinburgh 100 restaurant owners staged a protest claiming the new immigration law will result in the downfall of the curry industry. Reaching beyond the Chinese community and aligning with the Bangladeshi, Indian and Turkish communities the Ethnic Catering Alliance brought together hundreds and hundreds of protesters in the centre of the city.
The running water from the fountains remixes the chant "Regularise Undocumented Workers" and the noise of the whistle resonates with "Save our Livelihood".
On 24, April 2008 the Shopping Centre at Elephant & Castle has been raided and caused the biggest political gathering of London’s Latin American community a few days later. The protesters chanted:
"Papeles si, policia no!"
And just as several speeches on Trafalgar Square did a month earlier, they point out to the transnational dimension of their struggle: "America Latina: Aquí y Allá - Resistencia!"
The UK's is not the only arena for such politics in Europe today. Continuous raids in Parisian restaurants led to new efforts to organise amongst Sans Papiers in France. Some restaurants have been squatted and kitchen personnel abandoned knives and chopping boards. Restaurants are turned into corridors of organising. Department stores, cleaning and gardening companies became sites of strike, supported by the Union Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT).
We ask: What is the sound of regularisation?
Field Report One by Ultra-red
Day of Action to Abolish No Recourse to Public FundsDispatch Three
Migrant Organising In The Rural South WestDispatch Four
Next StopDipatch Five
Sounding Alexandra CourtDispatch Six
Echo-mining at Deptford MarketOnline Episodes
Follow this link for an introduction to the project by Ultra-red as well as links to all audio compositions and texts.