In 2012, our current Prime Minister said that the aim of the ‘hostile environment policy’ is to create ‘a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants’. As poet Matt Abbott said: ‘Can we all just take a moment to fully confront the fact that “hostile environment” is not a soundbite…but an *actual* Home Office policy launched by Theresa May in 2010?’
It is bizarre, but unusually transparent: isn’t creating a hostile environment while looting the world on behalf of the rich the central purpose anyway? Of course, the assumption all along was that a hostile environment would be created for legal immigrants as well. So, people who were encouraged by the government to come here to rebuild the country after the Second World War are now being repaid by being put through a living hell.
Luke de Noronha, an academic who has researched UK deportations, said: ‘People are being deported who have lived in the UK for a long time – people whose parents, children, and siblings are British citizens. The issue with Windrush migrants doesn’t begin or end in 1973. These transnational family connections continued and will keep going…It does feel uncomfortable that the UK is forcibly expelling people to former colonies on these flights, in secret, in the middle of the night, where full body restraint belts are used.’*
Uncomfortable? Being tied up on a plane and sent thousands of miles away from your home sounds uncomfortable to me. But does it sound uncomfortable to a government minister tasked with defending this official horror? I suppose they would be more concerned about the discomfort of sitting through an interview to explain it.
And here am I, labouring over a blog about this scandal, enjoying my privilege and not fearing a knock on the door. Also, earlier this week I went to my first Happy Café meeting. The purpose of a Happy Café is ‘simple and inspiring: a friendly and welcoming place to meet other people with a shared interest in promoting happiness and wellbeing.’ Though I can only imagine the reaction to our current Home Secretary being in such an environment. Would we tell her to leave or offer her a cup of tea?