Immigration issues, in all their complexity, will feature at the centre of many party political campaigns and debates launching across Britain ahead of the December 12th General Election. The participation and voices of migrant communities directly affected by current and changing immigration policies, meanwhile, face being marginalised in the same way they have been during previous elections. This is because you require British citizenship, Republic of Ireland citizenship, or Commonwealth citizenship along with leave to remain (unless you don’t require such leave) to vote in General Elections, but also because the precariousness and life challenges facing migrant communities – including systemic poverty, racism, xenophobia, and myriad other issues – mean that they have historically been disengaged with elections.
Drop-in centres like ours have a chance to change the way migrant communities can engage in this election and in the future. That’s why we’re proud to support our friends and neighbours at Migrants Organise, who have launched the Promote the Migrant Vote campaign, which seeks to support migrants and Black and ethnic minority groups to engage with the upcoming election. We got started with the campaign yesterday at our centre, where we sprung into action helping to register eligible refugees and migrants to vote. We look forward to continuing supporting our eligible visitors to register over the coming weeks – particularly those who have historically not realised they are eligible to register. For our visitors who can’t vote, we plan to work with the Promote the Migrant Vote’s action kit, which includes a number of useful resources for ways to build solidarity between and within migrant and non-migrant communities during the election: calling for voters to consider the needs of their fellow residents while voting, initiating dialogue on democratic processes, and highlighting migrant rights whenever possible.
If you’re an organisation or individual working with refugees and migrants, we encourage you to follow suit and make it a priority this month to ensure all those eligible voters you are working with are aware of their right to vote, and to use this election as an opportunity to promote migrant rights – and, if you’re on social media, #PromoteMigrantVote.