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The following article written by one of our group first appeared on Waleshome.org last week, where it has already the 2nd highest number of comments. We reproduce it here in it’s unedited original form.
MIGRATION is one of the most contentious issues of modern times. Add the “im-” prefix and it’s practically a swear word in some circles. If public debate around the issue is ever given any lip service, it generally has a whiff of racism, or more increasingly the stench of fascism about it. The right-wing gutter press have managed to file ‘bogus asylum seekers’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ into the same category as child killers and sex offenders. There is so much that can be said to counter tabloid lies on immigration, it would be easy to fill a whole article with facts refuting them. But these can be easily found elsewhere, here I will sketch a rarely-articulated history of Wales which undercuts the dominant right-wing discourse on migration.
Opponents of immigration often fix upon the notion of an indigenous culture that requires defending from outside influence, a ‘way of life’ that is under attack from foreigners. The ‘shared identity’ of the nation-state is appealed to, promoting the idea that the interests of all indigenous people are separate to those of ‘foreigners’. This imagined community of a country is a construct, even in a small nation like Wales most people never know, meet, or even hear of most of their fellow countrymen. Any concept of national identity is not innate and unchanging, but fragile, contested, and constructed over time. The hegemonic concept of national identity serves as Read the rest of this entry »
The development of migration control is quite a recent thing, with the first controls on immigration not coming into existence until 1905 with the Aliens Act. The introduction of this piece of legislation was due, in part, to a concerted campaign by sections of the trade union movement and socialist groups.
Jewish people suffering persecution in Tsarist Russia and Eastern Europe had been forced to flee in increasing numbers over the previous decade and anti-Semites had responded by agitating for restriction on entry to the UK. This was the era of mass migration into south Wales. During the second half of the 19th century 126,529 people moved into Glamorgan and Monmouthshire mostly from Read the rest of this entry »
Though the systematic detention and deportation of people born outside this island without the correct documentation is a somewhat recent development, the use of migration control as a political implement by the British state has a long history.
In 1921 Emma Goldman the most famous female political radical of her generation moved to Britain, where she was virtually alone on the left in condemning the Russian revolution. She, along with Alexander Berkman had been deported Read the rest of this entry »