Immigration: Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

As black history month comes to an end, in this article we show how UK immigration law is extremely racialised today as it has been in the past.

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Black History Month 2023

As black history month comes to an end, in this article we show how UK immigration law is extremely racialised today as it has been in the past.


The Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 is the first example of this when British subjects for the first time became subject to immigration control. It was people of the Commonwealth that were affected by this legislation and white Irish citizens considered more desirable. The Home Secretary at that time, Rab Butler, wrote in a memorandum during the planning for the act that “its restrictive effect is intended to, and would in fact, operate on coloured people almost exclusively”. This was achieved in the Act through prospective immigrants requiring a ‘work voucher’, which was graded based on the applicant’s employment prospects.



Over 60 years later and after the lessons of the human rights abuses of the Windrush generation, the current Home Secretary and the United Kingdom are no less racist in their attempt to legislate against migration to the UK. However, now the attack is on asylum seekers from across the world, most noticeably The Illegal Migration Act 2023. The act changes the law “so that those who arrive in the UK illegally will not be able to stay here and will instead be detained and then promptly removed, either to their home country or a safe third country” (, 2023).

Academics, lawyers and those working with leading human rights NGOs, have been critical of the Illegal Migration Act 2023. The Act will significantly negatively impact the health and lives of asylum seekers, children and victims of modern slavery and human trafficking coming to the UK, by specifically targeting and prosecuting them with this narrowing of the existing, already too narrow legislation already in place.



It is important, especially during black history month, to acknowledge the ever-present discrimination faced by people of different nationalities. We must continue to hold parliament accountable and call out injustice, discrimination, and disadvantage. One of the biggest weapons in challenging the dangerous and harmful consequences of legislation is the rule of law. Legal challenges and the right to demonstrate will ensure a more humane and just tomorrow.

Want to know more about the recent Illegal Migration Act 2023?

Perhaps you have a question regarding your current circumstances or what asylum-seeking options may be available to you. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to answer any questions you may have and clear up any misconceptions for your peace of mind.

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