The Immigration Act of 2014 received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014, almost nine years ago. The Immigration Act of 2016 received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016, exactly seven years ago.
On the anniversaries of these two Acts, we must reflect on their legacy, and on the history that made them possible.
In 2012, Theresa May announced her plans for the Hostile Environment: to create a living hell for undocumented migrants by restricting or denying their access to basic rights and public services through the threat of removal. Many have lived in fear of, or have been subjected to forced removal as a result of the Hostile Environment.
In 2014, the Immigration Act further codified hostility towards racialised and migratised communities. It is one of the main causes of the Windrush Scandal, showing Black British people that their belonging was always conditional. The Immigration Act of 2016 further extended surveillance against and restricted the rights of migratised communities.
Since then, we have seen even more cruel policies being planned and enacted. The Nationality + Borders Act, the Rwanda Deportation Deal, the inhumane Migration Bill and the plans to put asylum seekers in inhumane accommodation make it imperative that we continue to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees.
These Acts are all connected by a thread of anti-immigrant, racist rhetoric. The Hostile Environment is the immediate predecessor to these laws, but it is important to remember that migratised and racialised communities have suffered at the hands of the British state long before Theresa May’s 2012 speech that ushered in the Hostile Environment.
By the Government’s own admission in their Equality Impact Assessment, the Hostile Environment treats people differently on the basis of race, and disproportionately impacts People of Colour. This proves the interconnected nature of immigration control and racism.