The Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) is challenging the constant anti-immigrant, anti-immigration policies and rhetoric coming from the Coalition Government, populist media and organisations such as Migration Watch.
MAX is currently a coalition of 113 organisations, from civil society organisation and trade unions to faith groups, working to oppose the anti-immigrant agenda in the UK. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is one of the founder members of MAX and acts its secretariat.
Migrants make a substantial contribution to the economy, enrich Britain’s culture and improve the standard of its public services. The multicultural and prosperous Britain that exists today has been created through generations of immigration and accepting refugees, yet this is not recognised in the mainstream public discourse about immigration and asylum. As a result of this we have launched a new campaign called “I am an Immigrant”. We believe migrants are part of the fabric of our society and should be celebrated not vilified.
MAX also believes austerity measures and public sector cuts are producing real tensions among communities living in deprived neighbourhoods. Those denied access to benefits and services are pushed to the margins of society and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. British nationals, long-term residents and their families with spouses or civil partners and relatives from non-EU countries are subject to draconian and discriminatory immigration controls that wreck family life. These measures are splitting up ordinary families due to onerous financial requirements.
We reject the scapegoating of immigrants which sections of the media and politicians of all mainstream parties have participated in. We reject moves that require landlords to inform on people’s immigration status, and believe these measures will engender an atmosphere of mistrust, as well as threatening social cohesion. Through our independent evaluation, we are monitoring the effects of the ‘right to rent’ pilot that is currently taking place in the West Midlands.
In this context of growing racism, the threat of racist violence has increased against all migrant communities in Britain — with the number of race hate crimes rising markedly. We want to live in a civilized society where people, irrespective of background, are valued and treated with respect. We are migrants, descendants of migrants and ‘indigenous’ British people. We stand together for a diverse and inclusive society. We believe we can live together with dignity and peace, learning from each other’s differences and contributing to a better place for future generations to live in.
We have made the following call in our founding statement:
- We call upon politicians and the media to end the use of language that could incite racism and xenophobia.
- We call upon the Government to reject the ‘numbers game’ politics of immigration, and instead to pursue an immigration system built on human rights and the needs of the UK.
- We call for the media to show responsibility and to put an end to the publication of sensational and unfounded stories which incite racial hatred and hatred towards migrants and refugees.
- We will defend the right of refugees to seek asylum in the UK under the 1951 Geneva Convention. We insist that while seeking asylum, people should be treated with respect and afforded fundamental rights.
- We will resist any attacks on human rights. Any such attack on the European Convention on Human Rights or domestic legislation would be primarily aimed at immigrants and then used against all.
- We will speak out against racism and xenophobia and to defend migrant communities and refugees.
- We offer our support to those in political parties and media who oppose the cultivation of xenophobia and hostility to migrants.
MAX invites everyone to join us in rejecting a move towards intolerance and xenophobia and to champion a tolerant and inclusive country. You can find out more about our work by visiting http://www.jcwi.org.uk/ or write to us at [email protected].
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