EVERYDAY BORDERS is new 50 minute documentary film on how immigration controls are moving from the margin into everyday life. Consequently, increasing numbers of people are discovering they are expected to act as internal border guards and check up on the status of people who either work for them, rent property, access health care or attend college or university. Everyone is affected as social relationships are broken down and an atmosphere of mistrust is built up.
Sitting alongside tougher border controls; then these draconian internal controls are intended to increase hostility towards immigrants in the hope that more will leave and also convince people that immigration is being managed effectively and that those who reach the UK have a right to be here.
With the 2014 Immigration Act, which imposed a duty on residential landlords to refuse to rent rooms to anyone unable to prove their right to be here and upped the fines on any companies found to have employed illegal workers, having passed with all-Party support then it was certain that whoever won the general election there would be ever more ways of surveying and policing local communities where migrant workers live.
EVERYDAY BORDERS examines the implications that internal controls already in place are having. It reveals how restaurant owners are finding it difficult to recruit qualified staff and when their premises are raided on busy Friday nights then their reputations are ruined. Universities are finding it increasingly difficult to attract international students who are finding it easier to enter places such as Canada and Australia to study and then remain to set up businesses that employ people.
In housing, landlords in the West Midlands and Black Country, where the new measures were launched last year as part of phased introduction across the country, are unwilling to risk being fined £3000 if they are found to have an illegal tenant. They are thus turning anyone looking foreign away. With no access to public housing then many of those who are refused are ending up homeless.
Meanwhile such is the climate that has been induced that many migrant workers are unwilling to access health care services they are entitled to or, if they are a woman, complain about sexual harassment.
Those who are actually in the country without permission are even worse off as they are unable to open a bank account or apply for a driving licence. Refused asylum seekers who are unable to return home because of war in their country must pay for hospital treatment even though they have not got the money to do so.
Hardly surprisingly, Everyday Borders reveals an increasing number of people who are living here and are worried about their status who have contemplated suicide.
In terms of their general impact on society then internal controls are naturally making integration a much more difficult process. According to the documentary in the past new arrivals had much greater chances to integrate. The result has been much more harmonious multi-cultural communities in the UK than in other parts of Europe.The film fears that internal controls will create a network of people who must constantly live in the shadows and 'dodge and dive'. A society that only the most reactionary can desire and rest assured then once the state has refined its network of internal controls on migrant workers it will move on to workers everywhere.
EVERYDAY BORDERS has been produced by the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London, Southall Black Sisters, Migrants' Rights Network and Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London.
It can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/126315982
There are also speakers for discussion panels on the contents of the documentary at firstname.lastname@example.org