Action Card - February 2019
Material provided by United Reformed Church
Dismantling the Hostile Environment
The ‘hostile environment’ is a web of UK government policies designed to make life so difficult
for immigrants who cannot prove they have the right to live in Britain that they will choose to
leave. It prevents anyone who cannot provide the right documentation - for whatever reason
- from getting work, renting a home or accessing the kinds of services we all need to live. This
is leading to destitution, racial discrimination and a culture of distrust and suspicion.
In spring 2018, revelations about the treatment of some members of the ‘Windrush
generation’ of Commonwealth migrants shone a spotlight on the cruelties inflicted by the
hostile environment. When these British citizens were unable to provide the required
documentary evidence, they lost, or were at risk of losing jobs, homes and access to free NHS
treatment. In some cases they were detained or deported.
The Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed
Church have joined forces to call for the dismantling of the hostile environment. The Joint
Public Issues Team report Destitution, Discrimination and Distrust: the web of the hostile
environment - available at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/endhostility
<http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/endhostility> - sets out how aspects of the policies run
counter to Christian teaching, and highlights three particular concerns:
1. Destitution - as a policy tool to encourage people to leave the country by preventing
access to essential services. As Christians, we affirm the dignity of every human being
and do not believe that destitution should be used as a tool of government policy.
2. Discrimination - by expecting landlords, employers or healthcare workers to make
decisions about eligibility, the risk of discrimination based on assumptions and prejudice
is increased. As Christians, we believe that racism and other forms of discrimination are
a denial of the Gospel.
3. Distrust - it effectively internalises border controls, meaning many more of us are now
expected to help police immigration policy. As Christians we believe that God calls us into
relationships founded on mutuality and interdependence, not distrust and suspicion.
Write to your MP, c/o House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA calling for an end to the hostile
environment. This should start with a full independent review of Home Office immigration
policy and practice, to examine the damaging effect the policies of the hostile environment are
having on the whole of society.
Engage in conversations within your church or community about the hostile environment
.Share your conversations online with the hashtag #endhostility and read other stories and
reflections at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk <http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk>