If you haven’t already, now is the time to join

On Wednesday, the government voted for triggering Article 50. Whether you voted Remain or Leave, agree with the “Brexit Bill” or not, that is not the issue at hand. The “Brexit Bill” passed without any amendments to secure EU nationals’ rights. What does this mean? It means that until new immigration laws are drafted, the future of 3 million EU nationals living in the UK is unclear. Imagine you have lived in the UK for over 10 years, married a Brit, had British children, paid taxes and developed a love for a good British brew; but you can’t get Permanent Residency, your life here is no longer secure. You have never had to apply before now, because as an EU citizen you had the right to live in the UK and do all these things, visa free and without proof of Permanent Residency. The problem here is that Permanant Residency has proved to be very difficult to obtain, especially for women who have taken time out of work to raise a family.

As Caroline Lucas said, “we are talking about people’s lives” and those people include my family. Now, I have no clue where my family will be in two years’ time, once we officially leave the EU. As a result of the difficulty in applying for Permanent Residency, I am unsure if my mum will be able to stay in the UK, where she has now set up a business to help tackle mental health issues in young children. What I do know is that if the UK continues to see its current rise in racist attitudes and the government does not secure the rights of my family and friends, then in two years’ time, I will take my new degree and go to another EU country. I have it all planned – but I don’t want it to get to this stage, I want to stay in the UK.

My worries and thousands of others who are uncertain of their future in the UK is why it is crucial, now more than ever, that we all rally behind our local ‘One Day Without Us’ event on Monday 20th February. The One Day Without Us is a national initiative that will see all migrant communities unite to show how important and valuable they are to British society. I will be in Leeds, where we’ll be heading down to Briggate at 1.00 pm to celebrate our cultural diversity, have performances and speakers along with stalls for information regarding your local migrant community. At 5.00 pm, we will have a march through the city centre to protest against the rise in hate we are seeing affecting all minority groups. Even if you can’t come for the whole day, it is worth coming for the march at 5.00 pm.

If you are an EU national, come join us to show the government that you are not a bargaining chip, that you are crucial to the economy and that your culture brings so much to the UK. But this is not just for EU nationals, this is for everyone. If you are a non-EU migrant, this day is for you, too. All people from all backgrounds are encouraged to take the day off work, come just for their lunch break or just for the march, to protest against the rise in racism and the government’s passive reaction to it all. If you really can’t make it, you can still take part by not spending any money in Leeds to show how vital to the economy all migrants and migrant supporters are.

Non-migrants, it is crucial that you join in, too. Remember, nice people make good Nazis. By not standing against the racism that your colleagues, neighbours and friends face, you are only complicit in the hate. So please, take the day off in solidarity, or email your lecturers (like I will be) and explain why you won’t be at work or uni.

We want to unite the different migrant groups across Leeds. Briggate will be filled with people from across the wonderfully diverse ethnic groups of Leeds from 1-5.00 pm on Monday the 20th, everyone is invited to join the fun and meet new people from all different backgrounds. I’ve already blogged about this with some brief details. You can now find out more information on Twitter and Facebook.

We look forward to seeing everyone there, waving their flags and sharing their cultures.

More information regarding the “Brexit Bill” and the rejected amendment.

There is also more information here, regarding difficulties in gaining proof of Permanent Residency.

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