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Words Matter

Introducing the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill on 7 March, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed 100 million people around the world “could qualify for protection” under current UK laws, and added that “they are coming here”.

She later repeated this claim in the Daily Mail on 8 March, adding that there are “likely billions more eager to come here if possible”.

When asked about her use of these figures during an appearance on Good Morning Britain, Ms Braverman said that the 100 million figure referred to people who are currently displaced and “on the move”, and that “many of them are heading to the United Kingdom”.

She added that the roughly 45,000 people who arrived in the UK on small boats last year showed “what we’re dealing with is an unsustainably high number on any count of people coming here illegally”.

The Home Office did not offer a further comment when contacted by Full Fact. In the light of the nature of what passes for public discussion, the Migrant Rights Network have launched the Words Matter Pledge.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, they have pointed out It is time to end the harmful and divisive rhetoric around refugees and migrants.

‘At the Migrants’ Rights Network, we believe the way we speak about migratised people is integral to how we treat new and settled racialised communities. Recent remarks made by Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP depicting people seeking safety as an “invasion” and an enemy to be feared mirrors far-right rhetoric about migrants and refugees. This has been met with criticism, with Sir Roger Gale, whose constituency includes the now infamous Manston facility, voicing concerns about the impact of the Home Secretary’s inflammatory language, specifically by extremists.’ ‘But this narrative is not exclusive to the right. Words such as “illegal migrants”, “genuine asylum seekers” and ‘refugee crisis’ are commonly used by opposition parties, the liberal media or sometimes even the Third Sector itself.’

The Migrants’ Rights Network is a UK charity which stands in solidarity with migrants in their fights for rights and justice. ‘We believe that words form the foundation of everything. They dictate the structures of the world around us, how we view others and make sense of our own identities.’

Less reported or deliberately unreported – news

Suella Braverman made her first trip to Rwanda on 19 March as the UK’s Home Secretary to ‘reaffirm commitment to the ground breaking partnership’ and discuss the controversial £140m deportation deal that will allegedly act ‘as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys’. She met senior Rwandan politicians including President Paul Kagame and signed an update to the agreement to expand the ‘partnership further to all categories of people who pass through safe countries and make illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK’.

The Home Office announced that the plan is to deport ‘migrants’ to Rwanda by the summer – all dependent on the ongoing legal battles – while the Rwandan government expressed its preparedness to ‘absorb the thousands that will come from the UK’. She also visited facilities being built to house migrants removed from the UK and said that she was ‘incredibly impressed’, adding that ‘These houses are really beautiful, great quality, really welcoming and I really like your interior designer…I need some advice for myself’.

Following the inspection of centres, she said at a news conference attended by Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Vincent Biruta: ‘I sincerely believe that this world-leading partnership … is both humanitarian and compassionate and also fair and balanced’. Biruta confirmed her statements saying that the proposals ‘offer better opportunities for migrants and Rwandans alike.

Rights organisations have long pointed out Rwanda’s track

record of human rights abuses. Rejecting this criticism, Braverman said it would be a ‘blessing’ for refugees to be permanently resettled there instead of in Britain and encouraged her critics to visit Rwanda to see ‘What this beautiful country has to offer.

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