Lived experience testimony delivered to webinar on Why We Stand4StatusNow4ALL, 4th October 2021 by Tandrima, WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together) Manchester
Webinar hosted by the North-West Regional group of StatusNow4All
What does living without status mean to me? Is it only a piece of paper or a state of being? My status is I’m human. I’m alive. I have basic needs and I have emotions. I’m a mother, I’m a woman. That’s my status.
This means nothing to the UK Home Office. You have to be the ‘right kind of migrant’ to be granted legal status. The barriers that are created to ensure that even the most determined lose hope, are intense and inhuman. As a forced migrant fleeing my home country for safety, I expect a safe place, a system that believes in women, a government that supports me to rebuild my life. Liberty and a free life are my basic rights as a human being.
But under this government, being an asylum seeker is synonymous to being a prisoner maybe without chains but stripped of all dignity. The situation makes me feel as if I’m at fault and I deserve these circumstances. The sense of guilt and the responsibility of evidence burdens me, it dampens my spirit and stops me from pursuing my interests or studies. The rules about no work, no education for asylum seekers is anything but productive, especially for the UK economy today, when it is struggling to find workers and to fill up job vacancies.
The control of power by the HO doesn’t end there. We are not allowed to drive, rent or start a business. There is no help in rebuilding my life. My daughter who is 22, has been made destitute 2 years back, which means the HO doesn’t give her any support to live on or accommodation. She has recently been threatened with deportation. I hope many of us here will remember when we were 22, and I’m sure you will agree that fighting a hostile government to find safety is not the ideal way to live. What is the purpose of this? Who does it benefit?
Not helping people to live freely and achieve their potential is already working against this government. We haven’t celebrated festivals, birthdays or achievements in a long time. We live on charities from the groups that support us. The pandemic has shown us just how dispensable we are to this government. Deporting people to countries where they fear for their life is a low even for this government. This is the same government that allows the rich to benefit from us, but have no qualms in making us live a life of destitution for no fault of ours. Our welfare is not looked into, some of us don’t even have access to NHS and are afraid to go the GP due to our immigration status. It is the same with women who are facing DV* or DS,** they suffer in silence and live in fear of being caught by the HO.
I urge you all here to raise your voices and come together to stand in solidarity with us in our fight to tell this government to stop the proposed inhuman immigration bill and grant status to all. Till they do we will keep this fight going. We don’t want anyone left behind.
StatusNow4ALL is a coalition of over 100 organisations and community action groups campaigning
for undocumented migrants and migrants in the legal process.
DV* Domestic Violence; DS** Domestic Servitude