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Uncovering Systemic Racism Within Immigration and Refugee Policy

In the past few years, the issue of systemic racism is becoming increasingly present in our society. Governing systems that have been established over many years are causing injustices for minority communities, and severe reforms are needed to rectify them. In the United States (US), the brutal killings of George Floyd, Yao Pan Ma, and other individuals belonging to racial minority communities brought public attention to systemic racism, however, these issues are not unique to just one country. In early 2020, Brazil experienced many police shootings based on race, killing over 606 people in the first four months of the year, and many human rights activists in the Philippines were labeled by the government as dangerous terrorists. As racism is being discovered in various laws and policies, people are starting to question its involvement in immigration law and refugee policies.


In popular immigration destinations like the United Kingdom (UK), the US, and Germany, the majority of immigrants are people of color and are directly affected by immigration laws. For example, the US refers to these immigrants as “aliens” until they receive citizenship. This term further enforces the cruel treatment they receive, as it classifies them as not even human, and it directly correlates to their reputation in society. This term itself directly causes racism towards immigrants. The treatment they are subject to is something that US citizens would naturally be protected from under the law, however, these “aliens” do not receive this same protection. Stereotypes and racial profiling prevents immigrants from getting the protection and life they seek in a country more promising than their country of origin.

Protestors gather together to speak against systemic racism, Photo creds: Policy Exchange

These issues are not being addressed due to the lack of response from government officials. UK politician Matt Hancock stated that he believed the UK was not racist, denying any racist laws in place. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently proposed the Nationality & Borders Bill, commonly known as the Anti-Refugee Bill. This bill would criminalize refugees trying to reach the UK, and in some cases, they would be placed in prison-like facilities and possibly face death. Many human rights activists are arguing against the moral righteousness of this, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is opposing the bill. The bill also allows the government to recall citizenship from any citizens at any time. This will especially affect minority groups as they are often blamed for crimes, and given far worse punishments than a white UK citizen. Immigration lawyers have expressed concern about the bill, recognizing that it will give the government more power over citizens.


Activists are pushing for change, hoping to convince governments around the world to rectify these structural problems and help immigrants and refugees get basic human rights and proper living conditions. Though ultimately, the fate of the people is up to the ruling powers of the world.



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