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Everyday Borders

students studying at UEL

The peaceful co-existence of multi-cultural Britain is under threat, as more members of the public are being asked to perform what amounts to the role of UK border guards.  That’s according to new documentary film Everyday Borders, made by the University of East London’s Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging.

The film argues that last year’s Immigration Act means people new to the UK are being denied jobs, accommodation, healthcare and education. That’s because the general public may not be able or willing to understand the complexities of immigration legislation. Or, threatened by the possibility of fines, they are excluding racial minorities to minimize risk to themselves.

In the film, Dr Georgie Wemyss, senior research fellow at CMRB, explains the motivation behind it:

“Although the 2014 Immigration Act is introducing the border into our everyday lives in many different ways, we became particularly concerned with how it’s introducing further bordering processes into areas of health, employment, education and housing.”

The documentary argues that this affects not only immigrants, but all of us, as Professor Nira Yuval-Davis, the CMRB’s co-director explains:

“This evolution of bordering from the margin to the centre, from the extraordinary into everyday lives, is now threatening to destroy the conviviality of pluralist metropolitan London, and multi-cultural Britain in general,” she argues.

Don Flynn from the Migrants Rights Network elaborates:

“The Home Office wanted to create a hostile environment for illegal immigrants.  But the problems is that a hostile environment isn’t just experienced by the people who are targeted. It’s experienced by people who may be on the edges as well - the neighbours, or the kids who might go to the same school.  So there’s a huge ripple effect of this hostile environment that extends from the targeted irregular migrant community and hits everybody who’s in the vicinity.”

Niru Williams, Deputy Academic Registrar UEL explains how this new climate also adversely affects university admissions.

“International students are incredibly important to UK universities now,” she says. “We want a positive message going out, saying ‘come to the UK, we offer a good education system’. But I know from going abroad myself, the negative publicity that this kind of legislation gets.  Particularly in South East Asia, where it’s front page news. And certainly the number of students from those countries has decreased significantly. They are now going to countries like Canada and Australia, where the immigration rules have been reviewed in order to attract international students.”

The film was made in conjunction with the Southall Black Sisters, Migrant Rights Network and the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London.  It is free and accessible to the public via video sharing website Vimeo. The team behind it are urging people not only to view it, but to download it, organise showings and advertise it via social media.

Watch it here.

Notes to Editors

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.