Thrive to Survive

Vanda Ferreira

5846 words

52 minutes

We recommend using Chrome for printingDownload & Print PDF


Immigration is a sensitive topic in today’s society, especially when focusing on the negative sense of this subject matter. In 2012, then Home Secretary Theresa May announced a policy strategy aimed at combatting ‘illegal immigration’, by making life so unbearable for undocumented migrants that they would voluntarily choose to leave (Sanders, 2021). This was the defining event that gave a name to the experience that migrants from around the world have been accustomed to for years; it was simply assigned a proper name (‘illegal immigration’), in the UK, from then on. This regime’s policies intended to ‘cut off undocumented migrants from access to any public services’ (Sanders, 2021). The ‘Hostile Environment’ policies encourage and incentivize the public to be suspicious of each other and undermine trust in public services. With mistreatment, mishandling, and misrepresentation, the migrant community has suffered for years to gain approval and acceptance of their existence. In spite of the word undocumented being in the core definition of this policy, the general public of the UK - and the rest of the world for that matter, — has no way of knowing who is documented or not, and so the hate and negativity are directed towards every migrant in the country. Besides this, most of the undocumented population in the UK is made up of people who came into the country legally, but since then have lost their status, very often through no fault of their own (The Joint Council for Welfare, 2020).

Ultimately, there is no evidence that the Hostile Environment achieves its stated aim of forcing people out of the UK. But there is an extraordinary amount of evidence of the damage being done. A symbol of this is Michael, who lost his job as a special needs teacher and was threatened with deportation after he was accused of having no right to be in the UK, despite having lived in the country for more than 50 years (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, 2021). No grounds were given by the system as to why he should be deported, when he was in reality a government worker, and helping the growth of the country.

‘Politicians, media, and everyday speech often refer to all people on the fringes of the immigration system as illegal immigrants – or just, “illegals”. But, to be clear, “illegal migrant” is not actually a legal term.’ (Corporate Watch, 2018).

This evidences the misrepresentation and the creation of words of deliberate aggravation towards this community; labelling them as being bad for society, when they are the ones making it evolve.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants - an independent charity campaigning for justice and fairness in immigration, nationality and asylum policy created in 1967 — offers an article criticising the culture and policy-making systems of the Home Office, over several decades. It focuses on the government’s implemented systems of control, while the impact on individuals was ignored and concerns dismissed, as well as giving reasons why these policies should be reviewed or abolished. (The Joint Council for the Welfare, 2020).

Furthermore, we explore in this article, the concept of a longer hostile environment, the hostile environment explored in the title of Maya Goodfellow’s book Hostile environment: How immigrants became scapegoats (2020). This doesn’t just refer to the more recent hostile environment policies that were brought in through the coalition and conservative governments, through the Immigration Acts.

Goodfellow’s book refers to the long, long history of hostility that is rooted in racism, and which was established in different forms of exclusion, a history that have seen people who had the right to come to the UK — because they were living in colonies and former colonies, taken away on the basis of race. However, people are people and so they are human beings, not just their forced label of an immigration status. “I am so much more than just this story of how badly the immigration system in the UK has treated me.”(Goodfellow, 2021) This is the comment which author received over and over from the people she interviewed for her book.

This community has a knowledge of their worth, and knows that their life story doesn’t define how they should be treated by the people outside of it, which is already a personal victory.

However, has the migrant community failed or were they able to rise above these struggles and succeed? Exploring through research focused on the migrant, hidden migrant and refugee communities, I have found that through the struggles they are still able to thrive. However, we need to question the difference between the terms surviving and thriving, and explore how in this community they have almost the same meaning.

Furthermore, I will explore how this community finds power in numbers and is able to create connections of mutual support within. The main symbols of these support systems are organisations such as Migrant Voice and The Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants — two organisations that focus on fighting policies like the ‘Hostile Environment’ and train migrants around the country to share their stories and use legal tools to retain and keep their dignity.

This is as much a call for the need for migrant justice, as well as a prompt for discussion in the form of open conversations with the general public, in order to make a real change and move towards abolishing these policies.

The Why(s).

Recent events in this debate, have focused on the cruelty and pity for migrants and refugees — like the image of a two-year-old’s body washed up on a Turkish beach (fig.1). This viral image surfaced in 2015, creating compassion and pity for the innocent souls that have to suffer while searching for a better life — this has made the Western community be temporarily kinder towards refugee seekers and innocent children belonging to that community. Nonetheless, it has also ‘criminalised’ these economic migrants — posing them as migrants by choice. Calls for wealthy countries to choose genocidal policies of deterrence in the name of border ‘security’, means that the bar for migrant-justice is set below ground, making this society less worried about a migrant’s wellbeing than ever.

Fig. 1

As I furthered my knowledge and researched into this subject I realised that the immigration ‘debate’ is really about everything but the people involved. It’s about stereotypes, and politics and numbers and turning human beings into a graph. The book How Immigrants Became Scapegoats by Maya Goodfellow (2019) explores the subject through historical events, and interviews people from the inside of the political circle.

Initially, we are introduced to Nazek Ramada, the director of Migrant Voice — an institution that encourages migrants to find their voice and bring awareness to the media. Nazek’s experiences show us that we live in a world where the word ‘immigrant’ has an impersonal, clinical and cold meaning; a world where it is necessary to keep reminding everyone that immigrants are not a burden; that they are people that can and often aim, to help their new country to grow.

The Difference in Treatment.

Even supposing that the radicalisation and violence against migrants are very apparent, there is a very evident difference in how white migrants are treated in comparison with POC (people of colour) or Latino migrants. Firstly, within this debate, there are still hierarchical words created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of these words is ‘expat’. An expat is theoretically an immigrant, the word coming from the Latin expatriāre , who is described as a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing.

This should make every migrant an ‘expat’, regardless of their colour or culture. However, that is not the case in reality. Expat is a term reserved exclusively for white Western people going to work abroad.

The POC and Latino communities are termed ‘migrants’ and therefore have a lot fewer opportunities within these systems and regimes.

“I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors, but being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term ‘expat’. I’m a highly qualified immigrant — as they call me — to be politically correct”, says an African migrant worker.” (Koutonin, 2015). Most white people deny that they are involved in upholding and often enjoying the privileges of this racial system. However, the existence of special words like ‘expat’ shows the different treatment of White migrants and POC or Latino migrants.

These ‘expats’ are often people that upon returning to their mother country are involved in anti-migration politics, because they don’t feel involved in the migrant community and commonly vote on political movements, like ‘Brexit’ which resulted in the UK leaving the EU, impacting on millions of migrants in a very negative sense.

Migrant education and who should take responsibility.

“Actually, many, many people from the UK moved out to the colonies in the early days, and that has been totally erased in the history of the telling of migration which we hear now [in schools]. And so whilst I don’t think putting that in its statute as part of the national curriculum will necessarily change everything and do all the work that we need [it] to be done. I think it is a pillar to start the change.” (Goodfellow, 2021). This is the answer Maya Goodfellow gave in an interview. It may look like a small step, but education is something that is essential to a functional society, and therefore the need for a high quality migrant education is high on the list of ‘to-do’s’ for the improvement of living in our community.

Goodfellow’s theoretical and historical book shows evidence of the existence of the hostile environment — as a long anti-migrant movement — as well as the implications of the ‘Brexit’ movement, the differences in treatment and how the facts being reported in these systems are both wrong, and very dangerous for the public being labelled.

Chapter two of this book debates the general public’s (wrong) perception that Britain is, and has always been, a ‘white country’ and that the racial and cultural agreement in this country was disrupted by migration. Goodfellow describes it in this way: “This isn’t a country unsettled by immigration, it is one made by it.” (Goodfellow, 2019). As a direct link to colonisation — the early spread and creation of this nation as it stands today, didn’t come from the people here, it came from migration. The country’s inaccurate knowledge of its own history leads to very dangerous assumptions and actions from the public towards migrants. If people knew and were taught, through educational institutions, the actual historical facts, people would understand that they, themselves are in their origin, migrants too.

Many others have advocated for this as well, including the ‘Burning Me Trust’, which proposes that actually, we should be learning about these histories in a way that doesn’t just position Britain as this country that is separated off from the rest of the world, but as one where there was so much resource extraction from the colonies, that people were moving back and forth. Britain, both in the past and now, needs both migration and other countries to be able to evolve as a community, and that question is often overlooked in education, not just school-based but also media-based. This being a term for the media - especially newspapers, TV stations and social media even — and their role in the process of an evolving and lifelong education, both after graduation and for the older population.

According to Somali-British, ex-politician and activist Magid Magid (2021), Goodfellow’s book exposes the “struggles faced by migrants and rallies a cry for the pro-migrant movement we desperately need”. This is an opinion that I believe is very real and accurate, since the despair over the situation is very evident and should be acknowledged.

“It is quite evident that the responsibility lies with politicians and policy-makers; people who are implementing, devising, and coming up with these policies, alongside the history of these policies that they’re building on. But I mean, we also look at the press, and large parts of the press will reproduce some of these really negative narratives. That sort of allows to help breed the kinds of anti-immigration sentiment that we’ve seen for a very long time.”(Goodfellow, 2021). This is taken from my interview with Maya Goodfellow, in response to the question: Who do you think should take responsibility for migrant justice?

The answer, very evidently, lies in the systems of power and spreading of information. We can see that governments know the impact that their policies are going to have, especially the very negative ones. They are the ones exposing people to destitution and to death, but they often carry on with them without being concerned for those affected. However, the author also pointed out that it is the responsibility of everyone to resist that and say that we, as a community, want everyone to have a decent standard of living, no matter who they are and where they are from.

Analysing the book in detail, we can agree that this isn’t a book about immigration, it is a book about anti-immigration politics and the media — specifically newspapers and TV stations — and how it is so easy for them to talk about people as if they are not human beings. This could prove to be even more powerful than the immigration debate in itself as it exposes certain events — for example, how during the 2010 General Election migrants felt worried, unwanted and out of place altogether. This is the event that may have created the idea of the ‘Hostile Environment’, implemented in late 2012, including how the general public assumes that Britain is a ‘white country’ — “Its first inhabitants came from Southern Europe and by the time Roman troops and their auxiliary landed on the southern tip of England in AD 43, this was already a place of diverse traditions and languages.” (2020, p.48) — However, most of this population is from North Africa, Syria, and Scandinavia, further proving the inaccurate facts the public possesses and the lack of the teaching about this matter.

The borders - do we really need them or are they implementing a society of fear and judgement?

A different point I would like to raise in this open conversation is the idea - as discussed above - of the border regime and the question of ‘Do we really need it?’.

Natasha Lennard explains in the article ‘Law and Border: dismantling the logic underlying liberal immigration policies’(2021) that, in its core, meaning that statement is true when the notion of ‘state nation’ comes with all of its borders and inclusions, and exclusions, and ownerships “There are policy choices to be made about who should be an immigrant, and that includes removing folks who don’t qualify under the law, that’s, I think, just the reality of being a nation.” However, indigenous people, the only non-immigrants residing in the US, teach us a different notion of ‘nation’; a land free of borders.

This nation is a theoretical solution that I would like to present to the debate. “There are [currently] - in November of 2021 - 281 million migrants worldwide, 82.4 million of whom have been forcibly displaced.” these numbers would not exist if it wasn’t for borders and ‘state nations’. This is the claim made in “Border and Rule: global migration, capitalism, and the rise of racist nationalism” by Harsha Walia (2021). Walia’s book explores the history behind the state’s notion of ‘nation’ and how what should have been a political given, is instead, revealed as a negative form of oppressive governance.

Walia insists that “To talk ethically and honestly about borders is to talk about an ordering regime situated in and perpetuating global systems of racial capitalism and colonialism.” This means to talk openly about the migration debate we will have to also talk openly about the global systems implanted by governments that ‘sort’ through people based on their status and labels. Furthermore, this system tends to worry about the popularity of the matter, as discussed earlier. If the media is giving a lot of attention to one of the sub-groups of the migrant community — refugees; economic migrants; POC and Latino migrants — the system is then automatically, but temporarily, kinder or less ‘nit-picky’ towards that exact sub-group. The stories of innocent children having to walk miles to cross a border with no food or water sold very well in the media and so these examples deserved kinder words. Although this still criminalised the economic migrants, as they were seen as ‘job thieves and plainly a concern. This manipulation is something that all pro-migrant organisations have been trying to get reviewed for years, as a measure of migrant justice. However, to no avail up to now.

The philosopher Wendy Brown has argued that democracies must be bounded, in the sense that if ‘we’ are to rule as the people, we must have a constitutive sense of who and what that ‘we’ will be. Walia insists that this ‘we’ must be constituted by separating out notions of nationality, race, gender, or class; ones that should’ve never been invited to the conversation. The word ‘we’ — in the sense of this book and article — comes without borders, without labels, without oppression, without exploitation, and without systems of racial capitalism and colonialism. This represents a community; a ‘we’ where the decision-making process is people led rather than capital-led.

This is not a call for a ‘no border’ policy to be implemented but rather a call for a social debate on what the world would be like if the concept of ‘state nation’ would be dissolved. The paper advises that this is another prompt which needs to be added to the social conversation.

Goodfellow states: “What is the border doing? What is bordering? What is active bordering? Because it’s not just like you know when you move through the airport. It’s not just like when you get to the land that is sort of demarcated as Britain. There’s no actual border beyond some signs and passport checks. These acts of bordering are going on internally and across countries. They are sort of all around us. What kind of violence are these acts of bordering doing? How are they impacting people and what would it be a different way of organising ourselves look like?” (Goodfellow, 2021)

Here, Goodfellow challenges the general public to sit down and review the need for these borders or border systems, or if the need is for these to just be more lenient. The no-border policy is a popular theoretical proposal supported by a lot of migration organisations, such as Migrants in Culture and Migrant Organise Ltd. with their ‘Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)’. This movement “unites a call for humane immigration and inclusion policies that can truly reflect our society’s democratic values, one that draws on a distinguished history in Britain of standing for the dignity and justice of all.”(Migrants Organise Ltd, 2020). As well, it gives the general public’s option to sign their charter and to play a part in the fight to abolish these systems of racial ‘sorting’ and oppression.

The visual representation of migrants and non-migrants.

Maya Goodfellow’s “Hostile Environment: How Immigrants became scapegoats”, first published in 2019 and then again in 2020, with a new chapter on migration while in a pandemic era, added, comes at a time when politicians and intellectuals continue to create myths and add to the toxicity of migration, and even though it’s the media’s job — specifically newspapers and TV stations — to direct this matter out of such a deep abysm, they are doing exactly the opposite of that. “Britain must ban migrants” (Hall, 2011), “Migrants rob young Britons of jobs” (Little, 2011), and “Migrants ‘ready to die for your British benefits” (Binnis, 2014) are real titles of some of the many newspaper articles published around the theme of immigration, ones based on real remarks made by politicians. This is direct evidence of how the community is being misrepresented, and mis-labelled, and how these organisations of power are manipulating the general public’s views on migration to be so negative. The visual culture that is explored by the media on this theme of migration — as evidenced by the language used — showcases the need for a fairer visual representation; one that designers can provide.

On the other hand, the visual book ‘Migration as Avant-Garde’ by Michael Danner (2019), represents the two distinct sides of the matter, visually. Migrants with all of their confidence and hunger for work, against the people “that influence, prevent, channel, or impact a migrant’s humanity” (Danner, 2019). This includes border police and agents of the state, as well as the mass media. Furthermore, the book showcases archival images of refugees and satellite images from crisis regions. Using a mixture of his own photography and texts with historical images (fig.2), Danner creates a narrative of the immigrant experience.

ImageText Box Fig. 2

The photographs were taken between 2008 and 2017 in Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Morocco, Romania, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. This furthers the point of who is responsible for creating these systems of oppression and who is responsible for its globalization. These being politicians and experts in the matter and the media — specifically newspapers and TV stations. The author’s inspiration and aim behind this visual book is this community’s self-power. Quoting from his website: “In Migration as in the Avant-Garde, Michael Danner examines the new ways in which migrants are pursuing their hopes for a better life. The term “avant-garde” stands for progress and the way of a pioneer. Driven by the desire to give their lives meaning, and guided by their own integrity, migrants bring new perspectives and points of view to our society. The origin of his work was the reading of the 1943 essay ‘We Refugees’, by the political philosopher Hannah Arendt.” (Danner, 2021).

This statement portrays the author’s hope that migration and migrants bring only positivity and prosperity to a country rather (as explored earlier in this paper), the view that migration brings negativity and precarity.

“In the first place, we don’t like to be called “refugees”. We ourselves call each other ‘newcomers’ or ‘immigrants’ (Arendt, 1943). Here, in one of three quotations included in Danner’s book, Arendt presents her hope for a fair or positive representation of this community. This shows this community’s confidence and will to thrive. Something the author wanted to portray.

Danner gives us the space to observe and interpret how we see the subject of migration. His work allows us to feel the tension between the fear and the hope felt by migrants, leading the viewer to question the history and identities of power — and in particular, politicians. His work is, as he describes it “not a final assessment of the topic, but rather a space for dialogue and encouragement for a social debate beyond the actual subject” (Danner, 2021). This, from my perspective, means that we should treat the subject as a changing and evolving matter and make it as open as we can for the opinions that should flow in.

Danner’s visual work and Goodfellow’s theoretical ones are linked to the matter of purpose. The two pieces are equally a call for a social debate on the matter of migration and a cry for, and encouragement to pursue, a change of behaviour towards this community. Both show narratives that have no end, always progressing and wishing for a better future.

How to become an ally in the discussion.

“This isn’t charity, this is about solidarity and about working together to try and create a different way of evolving and sharing and resisting” (Goodfellow, 2021).

Solidarity is a vital force, whether as an individual or a collective, actions are one hundred times easier by networks of mutual aid. Support networks are the functional examples of migrants thriving, raising above the hostile environment and creating communities of mutual help for other migrants.

As referred to above, an example of such an organisation is Migrant Voice, founded in 2010 because “there was a huge debate taking place about us, without us.’ (Migrant Voice, 2021). In a time when migrants were scapegoated and faced hostility, this institution rose up with the purpose of building a community of migrant voices to speak for themselves, and call for justice for all. Migrant Voice is a migrant-led national organisation speaking out in the media, public platforms, and communities around the UK, creating positive change in society. Their main goals are: countering xenophobia, forging new ties, running campaigns, strengthening communities, influencing policy and bringing justice.

Migrant Voice was able to add to their achievements with more than five hundred people mentored to tell their stories; 150 of them made their voices heard in the media setting. As well, they were involved in creating and developing campaigns such as the ‘My Future Back’ campaign, where members of the community are fighting for justice for tens of thousands of international students who had their visas unjustly denied in 2014. Their work led to dozens of affected students speaking out in the media and three major inquiries in 2019 in the UK, all of which produced damning evidence of the government’s mishandling of this matter. This evidence proves responsibility and the lack of fairness incorporated in the migration process, leaving millions of people harmed.

In the book ‘UK Border Regime: A critical guide’ by Corporate Watch (2018), aside from exploring the systems of control implanted by the government to keep migrants under their radar — the border regime is a name for the overall system that tries to control people’s ability to move and live, depending on their immigration status. An example of this, is Elvis (not his real name), a Filipino man, that died at his home of suspected coronavirus, too afraid to seek medical help in case he got deported (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, 2021), this is one story of millions out there, describing situations people find themselves in because of the fear implemented by this regime.

The book also provides us with a list of advice tailored for migrants being directed towards these systems. Amongst various pieces of advice, one of the important ones is support networks and confrontation, finding strength in numbers, and confronting the system in all ways possible - and legal - is a way to move forward.

This very important resistance work, it’s about having some really significant important successes, where even the small ones count to the fight. Motivation is a key aspect of change, and those victories bring motivation for more. I feel that in this community you need to celebrate the small victories and often those victories come with mutual help and these groups of resistance. This furthers the point in the existence of support networks, the functional examples of migrants raising above the hostile environment - as proven in the first paragraphs created by the government circle - and creating communities of mutual help for other migrants.

“That resistance to me is what a thriving community is” (Schweiker, 2021). This is a quote tutor Rosalie Schweiker told me regarding the initial question, which really relates to the matter of how this community is thriving in the public realm.

The need to create and help these organisations is also very present. The metaphor “The more, the merrier”, very much applies to this community and their mission to get their voices heard.

This article is just a call for a conversation: a conversation starter. This debate needs to happen between migrants and non-migrants, and therefore this work aims to not just encourage the communication of ideas but also to educate the non-migrant community on the key aspects of this subject matter.

In the long run, this is also, an invitation to be involved beyond the conversation and to create or take part in the needed change. One of the ways to do this is to start by signing The Fair Immigration Reform Movement Charter by Migrants in Culture and Migrant Organise Ltd. This reform demands everything discussed in this paper and more, for example demanding public education programmes on colonialism and anti-colonial movements, past and present, that will provide a contextualised and evidence-based understanding of racism and migration, something that is very much lacking or misrepresented in today’s education.

Another example of the demand for change is found in the quote: “We demand a national inclusion strategy based on the needs of migrants, their communities of arrival and the principles of welcome, solidarity and anti-racism. This strategy should be sufficiently resourced to support the integral, structured inclusion of everybody in society, with dignity and respect. We demand an independent media oversight, including a regulatory body with the ability to act against fake news and hate speech directed towards migrants, refugees and BAME communities” (Migrants Organise, 2020). As this paper has explored, the government needs to take responsibility for their actions and for those of the media — specifically newspapers and TV stations — so that they can be seen to present a more controlled and accurate voice, and in this way abolishing the mislabelling and misrepresentation of migrant communities.

Moreover, this movement demands dignity: dignity and access to the basic needs of these communities. This needs to start with the abolishment of the ‘Hostile Environment’, and the asylum dispersal and destitution policy. Migrants need equal access to the National Health Service — a service that, with access, would avoid situations like the one that was explored earlier in this paper, with Elvis (not his real name), as well as equal access to a fair and full education for all migrants and refugees, alongside nationals.

To start the involvement process to help this community and fight the unfair regimes and policies surrounding it, we need very educational and fair pieces of writing, which this paper attempts to be. This movement reunites the views of people involved and contemporary situations proving the need for fairer action to be taken in the migration debate. Furthermore, it analyses and gives possible strategies that need to be taken. In its purpose, it is a call for a conversation and a call for action that action starts with supporting the pro-migrant movement and taking this conversation into parliament for a chance at change.

“We should be trying to create a world in which people have the right to stay and the right to leave or move if they want to. And so that is the world that we should be looking to create. And I have some hope about that, but it does feel in many ways a long way off. But I think the important thing to focus on, is the kinds of resistance that people are engaging in all the time because that’s where I think the hope for change lies.” (Goodfellow, 2021).

This was the closing remark Maya Goodfellow gave to this paper, in answer to the question: are you hopeful for the future of migration? This further shows that to be involved in the improvement and development of this debate is to resist and help other people resist. The creation and development, as well as the celebration should, and will, be undertaken as a united community.

Start now.

Rule one hundred of the book F**k the Establishment: 101 ways to get your voice heard and change the world is tagged with the command ‘Start now’. Nothing will happen if we as a community don’t join forces and fight, “the greatest enemy of change is inactivity” (Seven Dials, 2019).

The call for an open conversation is a part of a path to a more inclusive future.

The connections made through this paper show and evidence a clear need for an open social conversation on the behaviour presented towards migrants of all kinds, as well as how this negative behaviour is encouraging more and more people to tell their stories. This is my call for that conversation.

The prompts proposed are the need for migrant justice, the need for accurate migrant history here and in all countries, the need for a change of behaviour, the need to end the provoked fear that was implemented in this community, and the need for a no-border policy - or a more kind one - discussion.

Additionally, this discussion should be treated as a changing matter and we as a community — the same ‘we’ that comes without borders, labels, oppression, exploitation, and systems of racial capitalism and colonialism — should make it as open as we can for the opinions that should come in, treating it not as a stagnant matter but rather an evolving one, and find ways to help. Help fight these regimes. Help end this hostile environment, using our voices against these systems of oppression and fear.

Design for change.

An additional question to this enquiry is to investigate if the design can really be used as a tool for social change. Evidenced within this paper is the need for social change and methods — such as resisting and propagating an open society — one in which the public can be involved in that change. Furthermore, design is a very important tool in this debate since it allows the ideals and aims of all of the organisations discussed above to approach the general public and create that same change. Design can support different types of activism work such as community organising, service provision, advocacy, mobilisation and solidarity in a very visual and educational approach to the debate.

This can be through interactive design or simply just a series of posters that can the seen on the street. The visual mission of creating a less capital-led propaganda movement — like the one created by the Home Office for the ‘Go Home’ campaign (Fig. 3) in 2013, that threatened all illegal migrants with ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’ (Home Office), and were then sent to areas with high immigrant populations. The hypothesis of the operation was that people who did not have a legal immigration status given by the government would voluntarily depart if a danger, such as being arrested, was made apparent. Instead, design can create a people-led, more human and kind propaganda movement for the organisations and communities discussed here. ImageText Box Fig. 3

“…Unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2) […]. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”(Burmark, 2002)

Turning this debate visual is, in this paper’s perspective, as an important step as that open conversation suggested, considering that it creates a longer stimulus for the public realm, one which is easier than reading a twelve-page manifesto on why we need this change. Therefore, to answer the latter question, yes, design can and should be used as a tool for social change.

Surviving vs Thriving - the answer to the question.

In the introduction to this paper, the difference between surviving and thriving was discussed, and we found that within this community they have almost the same meaning. However, at the end of the process of writing the paper I feel that the community is instead surviving to thrive. Finding power in numbers and being able to create connections of mutual support within is crucial, as well as creating resources and tools for future generations to thrive rather than spending time simply surviving, just as this generation is doing now.

A symbol of this action is to be found in the number of organisations explored — Migrant Voice; Migrant Organise; The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants — all migrant-led institutions that have their purpose to help migrants' voices to be heard and taken seriously by everyone listening.

This project is inspired by my parents, my friends, and every migrant hoping for a society with more respect for the community. It concludes by representing the migrant community in a positive way, through a hopeful and positive piece of writing — a twist on the manipulations and negativity of modern media — about ways to help the growth of respect and acceptance for this same group.

The prevailing purpose of this writing stands in its acknowledgement that no matter our nationality, status or label, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and humanity.


Admin, 2014. Studies Confirm the Power of Visuals to Engage Your Audience in eLearning. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 January 2022].

Binnis, D. (2014), ‘Migrants ‘ready to die for your British benefits’, Metro, 29 October. p.6.

Burmark, L., 2002. Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn. 1st ed. University of California: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Danner, M., 2019. Migration as Avant-Garde. Dortmund: Verlag Kettler.

Danner, M., 2019. IMAGNO/VOTAVA/SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG PHOTO. [image] Available at: [Accessed 29 November 2021].

Danner, M., 2019. MIGRATION AS AVANT-GARDE. [image] Available at: [Accessed 29 November 2021].

Danner, M., 2021. Michael Danner | Photography. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 October 2021].

Demir, N., 2015. A young migrant, who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, lies on the shore in the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey. REUTERS/Nilufer Demir/DHA. [image] Available at: [Accessed 29 November 2021].

Design for Migration. 2021. Design for Migration. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 October 2021].

Goodfellow, M. (2019) Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Become Scapegoats: How Immigrants Become the Scapegoats, London: Verso.

Goodfellow, M., 2021. Play it by Ear - The Migration Reform Project.

Hall, M. (2011), ‘Britain must ban migrants’, Daily Express, 19 July, p.4, Available at: (Assessed: 24 November 2021)

Home Office/PA, 2013. A van carrying the Home Office’s message to illegal immigrants: ‘Go home or face arrest.’. [image] Available at: [Accessed 3 January 2022].

International Organization for Migration, I., 2019. Glossary on Migration. 34th ed. Geneva: International Organization for Migration, p.132.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, 2021. The Hostile Environment explained. [online] Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Available at: [Accessed 24 November 2021].

Koutonin, M., 2015. Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?. The Guardian, [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 December 2021].

LENNARD, N., 2021. Law and Border. [online] Available at:[Accessed 19 October 2021].

Little, A. (2010), ‘Migrants rob young Britons of jobs’, Daily Express, 19 August, p.4, Available at: (Assessed: 24 November 2021)

Migrants in Culture (2019) What is the impact of the Hostile Environment on the Cultural Sector? Your workplace. Your experience. Available at: (Accessed 12 October 2021)

Migrants in culture, 2020. Fair Immigration Reform Movement charter (FIRM). [online] Fair Immigration Reform Movement Charter. Available at: [Accessed 24 November 2021].

Migrant Organise LTD., 2020. Fair Immigration Reform Movement Charter. [PDF] London: Migrant Organise LTD. Available at: (Accessed 24 November 2021).

Migrant Voice, 2021. Who we are. [online] Migrantvoice. Available at: [Accessed 29 October 2021].

Noir, S., 2021. Third Culture Kids. [online] Issuu. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2021].

Sanders, C., 2021. What is the ‘Hostile Environment’’? An introduction to immigration policy in Britain. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2021].

Schweiker, R., 2021. The Migration Reform Project feedback.

Seven Dials, S., 2019. F**k the Establishment: 101 ways to get your voice heard and change the world. London: Orion Publishing Group, p.120.

The Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants, 2020. Windrush Lessons Learned Review: Briefing. [PDF] London: The Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants. Available at: (Accessed 25 November 2021).

UK Border tensions: Anti-immigration protests on the rise. 2020. [video] Directed by Y. Khan. United Kingdom: BBC Newsnight

UK Border Regime: A critical guide (2018), London: `Corporate Watch n.d. How migrants became the scapegoats of contemporary mainstream politics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2021].

Walia, H., 2021. Border And Rule. Chicago: Haymarket Books.