Hostile Environment policies are aimed at dividing us. The system only works as long as some people who have status are willing to report those who don’t to the authorities – and as long as others are willing to stay silent about it. But together, we really can have the power to resist.

Look at what happened when the government tried to make schools unsafe by forcing teachers to report the immigration status of children. Teachers, parents and campaigners organised together, to say in no uncertain terms that borders do not belong in schools. Up and down the country, people boycotted the collection of data, organised protests and spoke out on social media. Together, they forced the government to back down. When people – people like you – refuse to be part of the Hostile Environment, its very foundations start to crumble. Below are some ideas for how you can help to build a community of voices calling for dignity and an end to the Hostile Environment.

Learn about divesting from the Hostile Environment (ongoing action):

The Hostile Environment doesn’t just depend on people like us – it also runs off a vast infrastructure of shadowy databases, gadgets and tech that target people based on where they’re from and what papers they have. The Hostile Environment is a huge money-spinner for the private firms involved.

Much of the work of the Hostile Environment is done by multinational weapons companies. The government pays these companies millions of pounds of our money every month to run borders through our public services, our communities and even our homes.

So what can you do about it? Well, many of the companies that keep the Hostile Environment running also sell services in schools, offices and shops up and down the country. For example, Mitie – the company that received £52 million of public money in 2019 for locking people up in indefinite immigration detention – also outsource underpaid and under-protected cleaning and security staff to hospitals and supermarkets. You might find that IBM, the tech and arms giant that stores the biometric data of asylum-seekers and visa applicants for the Home Office, also runs computer systems at your place of work.

Click here to find out more about the companies that profit from keeping the Hostile Environment running. Have a think about where you encounter these companies in your everyday life, and what you can do to hold them to account.

Help make your faith space safe (ongoing action):

If you’re active in a faith community of any kind, you can take the fight for border justice there. A little-known aspect of the Hostile Environment is the Home Office’s work with faith communities. The Home Office runs hundreds of workshops every year in temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras up and down the country, hoping to persuade undocumented people to leave the UK. This work started in 2014, at the same time as new laws barred people from renting a home, accessing healthcare and working to support themselves based on what papers they had. Faith spaces were often the last place that people living through the hostile environment could go to for support. Their infiltration by the Home Office has meant that, in many cases, they are no longer safe spaces.

If you want things to be different, think about starting conversations with other members of your community, focusing on making sure that your community is a safe space for everybody, including undocumented people. You can find out more about how the Home Office works with faith communities, and why it is so damaging and dangerous, here. Get in touch with us to find out more – or, if members of your community are keen to declare it a safe space, drop us an email and we can send you a pledge poster for your faith space, and some more resources.

Research community views on policing (1-week action):

If you have to ask the police for help after something bad happens to you, they could report you to the Home Office if they think you might not have the right papers. Dozens of people are shopped to the Home Office every single month in this way – many of them had been seeking help because they are living with domestic abuse.

It’s no surprise that this stops people from coming forward to report crimes – in fact, the police themselves admit that people experiencing domestic abuse don’t ask for help because they know it could put them at risk of being detained. They even admit that abusers use this threat as a tool of control to stop their victims from seeking help.

When the police are forced to act as border guards, it makes all of us less safe. Migrants with all kinds of status, and with none, are less likely to go to the police when they witness a crime, or when they’re a victim of crime. This means that police are much less able to combat crime, because they have less information to work from. It also means that people suffer in silence, with nowhere to turn.

Police forces know that when they share information with the Home Office, it makes their jobs harder, not easier. But the more proof we have of this, the better. One incredibly valuable way to fight the Hostile Environment in your local area is to gather evidence showing that trust in the police – among people with all types of migration status – is damaged when the data of victims and witnesses is shared with the Home Office. We’ve put together this survey about people’s attitudes towards police and data-sharing with the Home Office. It’s anonymous, but does ask for a postcode so that we can group responses according to region.

Take some time over the next week to share the survey with as many people as possible from your local area. The more information we have, the stronger the argument for keeping police and immigration enforcement completely separate will be.

Build strength within your union (1-week action):

If you’re part of a union, it could be a perfect place to start a discussion about the Hostile Environment, and why none of us are safe at work until we all are. If you know other people who are members of your branch, send them an info pack explaining why securing the right to work for everyone will make us all safer and healthier at work. Then, by yourself or together with other members of your branch, get in touch with whoever heads up your branch to start a conversation about supporting workers’ rights by joining the Work it Out campaign.