Sian Berry - Green Party Mayoral Candidate

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader and candidate for London Mayor Sian Berry announced today that she will refuse to collaborate with immigration enforcement authorities if elected in May. Berry has ruled out services under the Mayor’s remit – including homelessness services – sharing any data of migrant service users with the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement.

From December 1, new immigration rules came into effect. They state that permission to stay in the UK could be withheld or revoked from rough sleepers found to be migrants. As a result, this could see migrant rough sleepers deported.

The majority of migrant rough sleepers in England are in London. Approximately half of the capital’s estimated 10,000 annual rough sleepers are believed to be non-UK nationals.

Berry’s announcement follows her previous campaigning against other enforcement measures against migrants who are rough sleeping in her role as a member of the London Assembly.

Berry has also committed to working to end immigration enforcement measures in other services across London, including education and healthcare. She has similarly pledged to end the use of immigration enforcement measures in ‘Right to Rent’ policies which critics allege turn landlords into immigration officers and deny people the right to a home.

Berry’s announcement is part of a wider raft of policies comprising the platform the Green Party will stand on in the forthcoming Mayoral election in May 2021.

Berry said she wanted these policies – taken together to build London as an “anti-racist city”. She said:

As Mayor, I will work with Londoners to build an anti-racist city, where every single Londoner is at home and valued. Where City Hall uses every tool it can to fight the racism and bias, which scars too many lives, and is built into too many policies coming from our current government.

Hostile environment policies have tried to turn all of us into immigration officers, and forced public servants, homeless outreach workers and landlords to hand over private data on our fellow citizens, but I can’t accept becoming a tool of any racist Home Office agenda if I am elected.

London is a proudly diverse and welcoming city for all people, and I will call out and stand against racist policies wherever I find them.

Berry’s manifesto for the Mayoral election – which will be published in the coming months – commits her to:

  • Campaigning to stop forced deportation flights in London’s airports.
  • Putting the Prevent strategy in London under permanent review alongside campaigning for the abolition of Prevent as a national policy.
  • Creating a London-wide standard of tenant’s rights for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community while opposing the Westminster government’s plans to enforcement powers against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites.
  • Building an action plan with the aim of regularising all of the 130,000 young undocumented migrants and pressing the Westminster government to give young Londoners with insecure immigration status immediate regularisation and faster routes to citizenship.
  • Rolling back stop and search and stopping the use of section 60 powers that allow for suspicionless stop and search except in emergency situations.

Green Party candidate for the London Assembly Benali Hamdache echoed Berry’s announcement. He said that the Greens would “keep fighting” the government’s “racist policies”:

As a person of colour living in London, I see two sides to this city. One which is open, inclusive and one of the most proudly diverse cities on earth. But there’s also bigotry, institutional racism, and discriminatory policing.

Greens have always led the way in standing up for refugee and migrant rights. We’ll keep fighting this Government’s racist policies which divide our capital.

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Image credit: RachelH_ – Creative Commons