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Sanctuary boroughs in London

United Kingdom

A community group is campaigning to turn the London borough of Haringey into a safer place for migrants by asking residents and the council to push back against the Conservative government’s ‘hostile environment’.

Modelled on sanctuary cities in the US, which explicitly defy federal government in order to shelter undocumented migrants, Haringey Welcome was launched earlier this year with support from Labour MPs.

‘There’s a lot councils can do to resist,’ says Akram Salhab from the platform Migrants Organise. He explains that local authorities can decline money to enforce immigration rules, refuse to share data and choose to house families with no access to public funds.

Since 2012, the government has outsourced the policing of immigration controls to ‘an auxiliary militia’ of teachers, doctors and landlords, asking them to perform residency checks on people when they access services, Salhab reports. As a result, vulnerable families are regularly made homeless and migrants are denied free healthcare.

Haringey Welcome is encouraging public sector workers to lobby the council to become an ally against central government while residents are invited to sign a pledge to respect, protect and welcome migrants. Other boroughs have already expressed interest in the scheme and Salhab hopes Haringey will be the first of many.

Charlotte England

New Internationalist issue 512 magazine cover This article is from the May 2018 issue of New Internationalist.
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