Despite the losses, hate and fear that 2016 has meant for many, Jawaab is grateful to have found friends this year who share our vision of a world without hate. One piece of work we’re really proud to have contributed to is the Against Borders for Children campaign - fighting to reverse frightening legislation that asks for 8 million children’s nationality data.
Why is this frightening?
Aside from further dividing the classroom, singling out migrant children and others seen as different in the context of escalating racism, it's likely the data will be shared with and used by immigration enforcement (this is what it has been used for in the past) threatening the safety of children and their families. Already, some non-white children have been asked to show their passports at school. Most recently, leaked letters revealed Theresa May was planning to put immigrant children on the bottom of school places lists.
Young women from Jawaab and Sin Fronteras came together to make a video calling for a boycott of the census and have been spreading ABC’s useful resources - for parents to withdraw nationality data and for teachers and school staff to stand up against being turned into border guards, facilitating the targeting of their pupils.
Young people from Jawaab shared their thoughts on the issue when the story first broke:
‘As a young British Muslim’, Sanah Ahsan, a Jawaabee writes ‘I want to feel part of the decisions being made about my future. I feel I want to have a say in where information about me and my family goes. This feels like a decision that disempowers the BAME community, as well as outcasts us’.
Mardouche, says ‘I think this is a terrible idea, I have experienced this in school growing up. I got bullied in school because my background was different. This should not be made worse for other children’.
Zahra, the daughter of refugees who was born and brought up in the UK adds: ‘Schools should be a safe place for children, without having to worry about issues regarding their nationality. Classrooms are there to unite students rather than segregate and create clear divisions between pupils. It’s not border control it's an educational institution, let’s keep it that way’.
Due to all their hard work, the campaign has been winning. You may have seen the trending #BoycottSchoolsCensus social media campaign, getting word out to parents and teachers that they could resist the policy. There has also been wide media coverage that has got the issue up the political agenda and kept it there. After letters, meetings and sustained pressure, politicians are responding, too. For toddlers, the legislation has been pulled back, not collecting this data about 2-5 year olds. The House of Lords passed a motion regretting the legislation - one peer saying it had ‘all the hallmarks of racism’ and a motion put forward by Jeremy Corbyn means the policy will finally be discussed in the House of Commons.
Much of the legislation still remains in tact, and children over 5 remain at risk. The deadline for the census is 19th January. How can you continue the campaign’s success?