Migrants Day plea for justice

'We are heartbroken by migration policy that dehumanises some members of our human family.'

Butterflies from Friargate Meeting | Photo: courtesy of Eleanor O’Flynn

York Quakers created textile butterflies to send to their local MPs, with letters urging them to back changes to the government’s migration policies. The move was to mark International Migrants Day on 18 December, for which staff from Friends House delivered a statement to the Home Office.

Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee for National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, and Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) developed the statement, which was handed over by BYM staff members Tatiana Garavito and Philip Wood, marked for the attention of the home secretary, Priti Patel. The statement says: ‘Rooted in our belief that there is that of the sacred in everyone… we are heartbroken by migration policy that dehumanises some members of our human family on the basis of where they come from.’ The statement can be read on QUNO’s website.

Ruth Dance, from Friargate Meeting, told the Friend: ‘The butterflies were sent to our local MPs with letters about the immigration bill. One of our group sent a more personal letter about her experience of immigration to the UK and how her family have added to the community here in York.

‘She would not have been allowed into the country under the proposed immigration rules because she and her English husband did not earn enough money at the time. York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell has been very supportive of our concerns about immigration and I had a comprehensive reply from her back in June.’

The ‘craftivism’ activity was in part inspired by Quakers in Scotland who, according to BYM, were ‘shocked and numbed’ when, in response to the pandemic, many migrants in Glasgow during the summer were moved out of their accommodation and into hotels. ‘They wrote to their MP about migrant justice and sent heartfelt butterfly messages to board members of companies involved and to members of Glasgow City Council.’

BYM is encouraging Friends to write to MPs outlining urgent issues, such as a time limit for detention, family reunion, right to work, burden of proof, and current and historic responsibilities.

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