The "migrant" question is still top of the agenda for most of the political parties, the usual cry being, "control must be restored" which is an admission that the state's control is far from complete, they always wish to go further down that road. A excellent excuse for more draconian rules and regulations, which don't just apply to migrants, but can be used in a blanket form against the general public. What always puzzles me is the wide acceptance across the population, of these new Orwellian rules. The "Calais Jungle" may have gone, but the people are still in transit, and still branded as illegal. Instead of congregating in self managing groups, they are being transferred to state managed "detention centres", in simple language, prisons. The following is an extract from an interesting article from Bordered by Silence.
Anarchist texts on the Calais JungleRead the full article HERE:
Although by now the Jungle of Calais has been destroyed, these two texts by Paris Sous Tension are still very relevant for understanding the situation of migrants in France today from an anarchist perspective. Many of the migrants were moved from the Jungle to various detention or housing centres, but all of those spaces are temporary and they will soon be back with the others in the camps that appeared or grew following the Calais eviction. In November, several thousand people were evicted from the Stalingrad neighbhourhood of Paris, where a camp had grown on the grassy medians of busy commercial streets. With right-wing politics ascendant here in the lead-up to presidential election in the spring, it is likely that the attitude of the state towards the migrants will harden and that the two strategies described in these articles, repression and management, will take on an increasingly violent character.
“I don’t want to go there. That camp is a prison, a sneaky way of imprisoning us.” from Paris Sous Tension, January 2016
In Calais, the year 2016 begins in the same way the previous ended: by further repressive measures against the undersireables (undocumented people, outlaws, rebels…), by declarations of war against them by the government and its police. All with the explicit support of the most despicable segment of the population, those who have turned to xenophobia to soothe their miserable existence and who rejoice to see the government — who, in their opinion, never does enough — go all out and resort to drastic measures. Those who, when things get serious, always line up behind the state and demand as the price of their passive adherence that the order be restored. Their only concern is to preserve their small comforts, their precious bank balance, their precious car and daily routine, their precious space of mental peace that all allows them to live their lives without paying attention to the world around them.
Like many places around the world, people have been flocking to Calais for years now in hopes of crossing to England, crossing a border that is closed to them because they don’t have the required documents, because they don’t meet the legal requirements , because they don’t have a degree or a resume to help them sell themselves on the labour market, or rather because keeping this cheap labour pool living day to day and in fear is a good way to domesticate them and keep them readily exploitable. For years, these people have been organizing among themselves for survival, in hopes of managing to slip across the border illegally, of overcoming the many obstacles that separate one bit of territory from another for those who are seen as undesireable by the state and the market. And as is often the case in hostile situations, there is strength in numbers and so they’ve come here by the thousands (between 4500 and 6000 ) in an informal camp in an area now known as “the Jungle”. The cops, who used to simply destroy cabins and tents back when they were isolated from each other, don’t dare to enter “the Jungle” to evict the inhabitants. And these inhabitants, no longer being chased off every few days, are now able to organize themselves in small groups to sneak into cargo trucks in order to enter the tunnel under the English channel or to enter the port.
And so we see in the past few months that companies like Eurotunnel and the SNCF rail network have restricted access to the tunnel and drastically increased security — the former by hiring a hundred dog handlers and the latter by erecting barriers along the roadways that are several metres tall and topped with barbed wire. As for the cops, more numerous and recently equipped with drones, they are happy to take advantage of a decree (a gift for the cops as part of the state of emergency) allowing them to stop any pedestrian on the road leading to the port and to pass them on to their friends, the judges, who can then condemn them to six months in prison. Oh joy, proclaim the the president of the region (who is calling for the support of the army to main-tain or-der!), the mayor of Calais, and the police chief as they demand the deportation or imprisonment of every migrant found guilty of: trespassing around the port or near the Eurotunnel (which is necessary, considering the absence of a space-time portal to cross the border); conflict with the police (which has become necessary in order to access the sites in question, in addition to its general value); vandalism; or “by-law violations” (healthy reactions in the face of frustration, disappointment, anger, despair, rage…). It’s a way of oiling the judicial meat grinder, to wave the cleaver of prison or expulsion (which means, at the very least, starting again) over the heads of those migrants who don’t act the way the bureaucrats, functionaries, judges, and politicians expect: as victims.
Governments of all stripes dream of order and pacification, but this isn’t in the cards for the near future. As proof, on December 17, about a thousand people set out along the highway towards the tunnel. With Christmas approaching and big traffic jams all around the commercial centres, they figured there would be more chances to sneak onto a truck. But the police didn’t agree, which lead to hours of confrontation. Same thing on December 25, 2500 people passed through the centre of Calais to reach the tunnel under the channel, but the police pushed them back. On their return trip, cars payed the price of their frustration and rage: rear view mirrors and windshields smashed, wipers bent back. A few uniformed goons were hurt. In these dark days, the blindest hatred meets the pettiest arrogance and cowardly submission prospers in the absence of any broader hope for a radically different life. We didn’t have to wait long to hear the half self-interested, half indignant grumbles and squeals of the peaceful and hardworking population as they lined up on the side of order.