Thousands of migrant workers and their supporters marched and rallied in central London last Monday, brought together under the campaign Strangers into Citizens. The campaign limits itself to calling for legal status for long term migrants.
Marches started from local faith services around Westminster and marched into Trafalgar Square from Parliament Square, joining coaches of people from all over the country. Chux Iheanyi, a student from Glasgow said, “I want to see amnesty granted to every immigrant. “People talk about the credit crunch at the minute in Britain, so those without work will find it much harder, but the government should utilise peoples skills and talent.”
Sauda Saman, who is originally from Somalia, expressed similar feelings. “I’ve been here eight years, but I know many people without papers,” she said. “Yet because of the war in Somalia these people can’t go home. With more people come more jobs. The government should look at how many people are here today and listen to us, they should give people a life again.”
The protest was not without contradictions as an amazingly diverse crowd were asked by anti-fascists to vote against the British National Party (BNP) in the upcoming European elections, then asked by an organiser to sing “god save the queen” and wave Union Jacks.
More radical sounds were heard through chants coming from different groups in the crowd along the lines of “Say it loud, say it clear, refuges are welcome here.”