Hulme family deportation

Marcus Miller, CP candidate for Moss Side, Manchester, calls for workers’ unity to smash immigration controls

EVERY DAY 14 people on average are expelled from Britain. They have, in one way or another, fallen foul of the immigration laws. Many have spent years in this country and overwhelmingly they are working class.

One person facing ‘enforcement action’ is Florence Okolo who came to the UK from Nigeria in 1989 to join her husband. Since then the marriage broke up, and she and her two young daughters face expulsion on the grounds that her immigration status is dependent on her living with her husband.

Florence has a degree, but has been forced into a low paid cleaning job at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is also a trained teacher, but cannot afford the fees to obtain the British qualification she needs.

“I work for my living; I pay my rent,” Florence told me. “Why do they want to get rid of me?

“Back in Nigeria I have no family, no job, nowhere to live. My children speak only English.” Awele, 10, and Anwuli, 6, both attend St Philip’s school in Hulme. The staff and children have given their full support to the campaign. They recently organised a candlelit protest, circling the school building.

With the backing of the Okolo Family Defence Campaign, she has spoken at several public meetings in the North West, including those called to support the campaign against other deportations.

“Nobody will speak for me,” says Florence. “I know I’ve got to do it for myself. Once I stood up to speak my nervousness just disappeared. But the support has been unbelievable. It gives me the strength to carry on fighting.”

Many union branches have affiliated to the campaign, especially Unison, of which she is a member - as have Manchester, Tameside and Stockport trades councils.

Tony Openshaw, secretary of the defence campaign and a worker at the Cheetham Hill Immigration Aid Unit, told me: “This is not a campaign we can win through legal argument, so we are banking everything on winning public support.”

Marcus Miller, communist candidate for Moss Side in Manchester commented, “This case is one among many examples of why the working class must unite in fighting all immigration laws. They have nothing to do with the myth of overcrowding, but are designed to criminalise migrant workers.”

Peter Manson

The Communist Party manifesto for the local elections demands: