Groups organise lockdown banner drop to demand leave to remain for asylum seekers and migrants

A photo of a banner used at a previous lockdown banner drop.

Grassroots groups in Ireland the UK have organised a lockdown banner drop to call for the ending of the detention of asylum seekers. Due to take place this coming Sunday 5 April from 3pm, the groups argue that someone’s “chances of survival should not depend on their immigration status”. 

As a result, the collective demands that all asylum seekers and migrants be given leave to remain and that they be granted full access to public services.

International solidarity

The banner drop has been organised by a number of groups including the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Demands from a Pandemic, Docs Not Cops, and Unis Resist Border Controls

In a press release the groups highlighted that the banner drop is “part of a series of international actions” that has involved thousands of people across Europe in the last week. And although the COVID-19 “lockdown is difficult for everyone”, migrants and asylum seekers face extra dangers.

But it’s also contended that:

All over Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic is articulated as a national affair: the main concern seems to be the protection of the state’s own citizens, while those who live in Direct Provision, camps and detention centres do not fall under this protection.

“Locked out”

Going further, it’s written that asylum seekers and migrants are “locked out of the most basic means of survival”, such as access to healthcare, work, and welfare and social services. It’s pointed out that in Ireland, for example, asylum seekers lack access to standard social welfare supports. 

Given this, the groups are demanding that asylum seekers be given “leave to remain… irrespective of migration status”. And they call for the ending of the direct provision system, instead advocating for “adequate and safe own-door accommodation”. 

In Portugal the government has granted temporary citizenship to all asylum seekers and migrants due to the pandemic. According to euronews, the move will “ensure everybody who needs it has access to social security and health care”. 

A spokesperson for the banner drop event told The Beacon that:

In terms of the move taken by the Portuguese government, we are in support of this and would like to see a similar move made from the UK government that extends to full residence status being given to all along with the “luxuries” of access to safe housing, health and social care services. 

Direct provision

Last week MASI drew attention to the fact that it is “impossible to observe social distancing” in direct provision. This is because of the cramped conditions asylum seekers in Ireland are forced to live in. In a press release it criticised the government for its “discriminatory response” when dealing with COVID-19 and asylum seekers. 

And it went on to say that the government’s policies regarding direct provision “endanger us all”.

Featured image via Demands from a Pandemic