Every Sunday for the past six weeks, far-right protesters have been gathering in the small Scottish town of Erskine to complain about plans to house some 200 asylum seekers in a local hotel. However, they are not alone. Asylum seekers in Scotland and their local allies have also been protesting the use of these hotels, and for a much longer time. Scotland takes in thousands of asylum seekers each year: 4,000 in 2019. Normally Scotland is not the first stop for asylum seekers. The Home Office — the arm of the U.K. government that deals with immigration — processes most asylum seekers in England, and spreads people out around the U.K.
On Tuesday, February 21, US President Joe Biden announced a policy proposal that would largely bar migrants who passed through other countries on their way to the US from securing asylum. This “transit ban” was proposed by the Trump administration but struck down by courts multiple times. This newest policy proposal is set to go into effect on May 11, after a 30-day public comment period if it is not similarly struck down. May 11 is a significant date as it is when the Trump-era Title 42 immigration restrictions will expire, which used the COVID-19 health emergency as an excuse to allow immigrants to be swiftly expelled to Mexico.
On the heels of last week’s North America Trilateral Summit, from which not much changed within the migratory system, today’s episode will focus on migration as a for-profit industry which has turned migrating humans into commodities. Our guest Adrienne Pine is co-editor of the book Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry published by PM Press in November 2020. Here is brief description: Through essays, artworks, photographs, infographics, and illustrations, Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry regards the global asylum regime as an industry characterized by profit-making activity: brokers who facilitate border crossings for a fee; contractors and firms that erect walls, fences, and watchtowers while lobbying governments for bigger “security” budgets; corporations running private detention centers and “managing” deportations; private lawyers charging exorbitant fees; “expert” witnesses; and NGO staff establishing careers while placing asylum seekers into new regimes of monitored vulnerability. Humanity is not for sale, and no one is illegal.
While all eyes are currently and justifiably on the incoming, monstrous Israeli government, there are a few leftovers from the previous administration that are worth mentioning. The previous Israeli government is seen by many people as a kinder, gentler and more reasonable government than the one in place right now. However, while it is true that the current government is more frightening than anything we have seen the Zionists produce until now, we would do well to look at the policies enacted by that previous government so that we refrain from the mistake of seeing any Zionist government as reasonable or favorable in any way. While the numbers of Israeli atrocities and crimes are far too many to count, from time to time we come across something that stands out. This time it is the decision by Israel’s outgoing Minister of Interior to deny asylum to a woman who, if she returns to her native Sierra Leone, will have to undergo female genital mutilation.
Janine Jackson interviewed the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies’ Melissa Crow about asylum policy for the January 6, 2023, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
The Legalization for All Network condemns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on December 27 to force the government to keep the terrible Trump-era ‘Title 42’ policy in place that closed the US-México border to asylum-seekers. Trump invoked Title 42 more than two years ago, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to close the border to asylum-seekers attempting to present themselves at the US-México border to request asylum. It is a right under international law to request asylum and have that request considered. That has not happened at the US-México border since Title 42 was imposed. Trump’s implementation of Title 42 at the US-México border has unjustly and indefinitely trapped desperate people in makeshift camps, parks and shelters on the México side of the border.
Health workers Lianna Reynolds and Sepeedeh Saleh talk about what prompted them to launch a campaign against the British government’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. Lianna Reynolds and Sepeedeh Saleh are British health workers who co-authored an appeal to former Home Secretary Priti Patel protesting the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. The appeal was signed by over 400 medical professionals. In this interview with Peoples Health Dispatch, they explain the reasons for this move by the government, what prompted them to send the letter, and the responsibilities of those in the sector while addressing such issues.
Every day the republican governors of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Florida, Ron DeSantis, eagerly announce that they are sending people generically labeled as migrants to what are known as sanctuary cities. The corporate media report that thousands of people have been convinced to board buses to New York City or Washington DC or Sacramento or Chicago or even chartered flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. What they don’t explain is who these migrants are and why their status is highly problematic and a function of imperialist foreign policy. Republicans rail against what are called sanctuary cities and imply that federal law doesn’t apply in these places or that undocumented people get some sort of special deal. However, the term sanctuary city doesn’t really mean very much.
On Monday, about 3,700 Central American migrants left the border state of Chiapas for the United States. According to reports from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the caravan is made up of people from countries including Venezuela, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, and also from Asia. Members of this new caravan reported that this mobilization is taking place after two weeks of unsuccessful waiting for a response from authorities of the National Migration Institute (NMI) for the issuance of temporary permits to travel through the territory and thus alleviate some of the institutional violence that afflicts migrants during transit. For their part, activists are denouncing the sale of migration cards at prices of almost $2,000, and sting operations involving not only the NMI, police, National Guard, and Mexican Armed Forces, but also federal agents from the United States, and Central and South America.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporarily closed the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego on the morning of Nov. 19, 2018. With 100,000 people and 40,000 vehicles crossing each day, San Ysidro is one of the most heavily crossed land borders in the world — and CBP’s actions came during Monday morning rush hour.
Much of the public discussion of our southern border today is one-sided. It is most often created by those with the most power and the loudest bullhorn; those in search of power, authority and money. So, it should come as no surprise to you that much of what we have been told about the border and of those who come to it are either not true or are highly exaggerated. It is after all the result of nearly a hundred years worth of the Border Patrol’s racist rhetoric and racist politicians creating ever more unfair and biased laws and policies. Many of which have little to do with creating an immigration system and more about scapegoating migrants for political and racist purposes while trying to make money off it. For more on this history, please take a look at this recent amicus brief on the history of our immigration laws.
It’s no surprise that there are claims of a new crisis on our border. A new year, a new administration, new policies in regard to who can cross and how they are processed will always bring a crisis claim from one side or the other. Depending on which side you are on politically often determines how you feel about migrants coming to our country. Conservatives usually feel we allow too many migrants to enter; liberals believe we should allow more. That is a generalized statement of course. There are all sorts of nuances about our immigration policies and what we believe to be the best course of action. In my activism, I have come across few who believe we should have completely closed or completely open borders. Most want humane immigration laws, but with some reasonable amount of precautions to protect Americans from truly dangerous people.
Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class. Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce.
The climate crisis, wars, violent states and economic crashes are driving migration around the world and in this capitalist global environment, it is no surprise that a profiteering industrial complex has evolved. I speak with Siobhan McGuirk and Adrienne Pine, co-authors of "Asylum for Sale: Profit and protest in the migration industry," about the ways capitalism both drives migration and benefits from it. They discuss who has the resources to migrate, the problem with how asylum-seeking is framed in the public discourse and courts and the diverse international resistance that is forming to demand universal access to asylum.
Like many of you, I’ve watched the reports and rumors of expected ICE raids, images of adults and children in U.S. concentration camps and the attacks on asylum seekers with horror. The large-scale ICE raids that officials have hinted at haven’t yet materialized as I write this, but they’ve succeeded in what may have been their real objective: terrorizing immigrant communities. Central and South Americans seem to be mainly in the crosshairs, but they’re far from the only ones.