A delegation of Manchester based activists and supporters from a variety of different organisations, including MiSol, RAPAR and anti-fascist groups came together on March 19th to join the 'M19' demonstration called by Stand Up To Racism in support of refugees fleeing to Europe.
The 20,000 strong nation-wide demo was one of many marches happening around the world.
Migrant Echoes' Project Worker, Sophie Gardiner, who has conducted many of our interviews for the Migrant Echoes' podcasts since the project's inception, volunteered to cover the events from the perspective of the Manchester convoy as they marched from Portland Place to Trafalgar Square, where a rally, chaired by anti-racist campaigner Weyman Bennett, saw speeches from many inspiring individuals including 'Campaigner Maz', actress Vanessa Redgrave, Lee Jesper of 'BARAC UK', the mother of Sarah Reed and members of the refugee community.
The rally saw the attendance of a huge variety of organisations from across the country; trade unions of various cities and counties, student unions from universities across England, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement was a very strong and vocal presence, 'Free Palestine' campaigners, Kurdistan Solidarity groups, Socialists, Labour Party members, LGBT rights activists, Anti-War protesters, and so on.
About the march, Sophie said; "I've been to the Stand Up to Racism national demonstrations for the passed couple of years, but I was interested to see how this one would go, taking into account the Refugee Crisis, and there was definitely a huge number of new comers. Some of the girls I interviewed at the rally from the Manchester group said this was their first protest, and I think there were a lot of first timers there who've seen what's going on, with the Refugee Crisis, with Islamophobia and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement- it's really got people coming out and protesting more than we have seen previously- Weyman Bennett said this was much bigger than last year, so I think people are by no means losing faith in these movements."
Recording for Migrant Echoes' podcast, Sophie spoke with Stand Up To Racism Campaigner, Nahella Ashraf as well as fellow protesters on the road to London and fellow marchers at the rally such as former asylum-seeker and Sudanese rights campaigner for the Beja Congress, Mohammed al-Halengy.
"I know Mohammed, he was a case with us at RAPAR where I've also volunteered for some years now, before he got his status and moved down to London. You always run into someone at these events."
"It was also great to see LGBT rights people and NHS folk there, especially because xenophobes and right-wingers, they often like to use the NHS and gay rights issues as arguments against immigration claiming that migrants exploit or burden the National Health Service, and have this perception that migrants- particularly Middle Eastern migrants, are all homophobic, so this show of solidarity is very important in proving these stereotypes and inaccurate perceptions wrong, when the NHS relies on migrants to function and many refugees, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern origin, are also members of the LGBT community!"
"There was some good speakers as well this year. There was a really energetic young Kurdish woman who is seeking asylum, she was great. Vanessa Redgrave spoke really well, comparing the current crisis with WW2, I got really excited because she mentioned my hero, Sylvia Pankhurst, and how she campaigned for Jewish refugees to be given visas to escape the Nazis but they were refused. The comedian Jeremy Hardy spoke as well, he's always very good. The mother of Sarah Reed, a young black woman who died in Holloway, she spoke and it really struck a cord with everyone. Lee Jesper of BARAC UK, he was fun, everyone liked him. I tried to record as much of the speeches as I could with the time we had before we had to get the bus back to Manchester."
The 'Refugee Crisis' was the central theme of the march. Stand Up To Racism has been a central movement in support of the refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East, and has organised a number of fundraising initiatives and events as well as delegations of solidarity to the refugees currently trapped in what is known as 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, that has been repeatedly destroyed in recent weeks by French authorities, harassed by French police and attacked by racists.
"Everyone was really optimistic at the end of the day. Nahella spoke to the coach about how successful it was and all the future activities from SUTR. A few right-wing nationalists have been saying we achieved nothing, and everyone's just laughing at us and no one wants refugees in the UK, but all I can say is, 20,000 people protesting alone- not to mention everyone we know who support us but couldn't come along to the march, and all we saw of anyone opposing the march was like, 20 'Britain First' protesters near Piccadilly Circus. The outpour of support for refugees has been so much more than I expected."
Many thanks to Sophie for covering the events of the M19 march for Migrant Echoes through photography, video and audio interviews which you will soon be able to enjoy in our upcoming podcast.
"How will the £35,000 income threshold for non-EU citizens settling in the UK affect you? Is the introduction of the income threshold affecting your future plans? How will the introduction of the income threshold affect your business, workplace and/or community?" 
Today Stop35K, a campaign that began in response to the UK government's plans to raise the threshold for Tier 2 Skilled Workers, is urging everyone to tell their story on Parliament's facebook page before the 35K debate goes to parliament.
On the front of their campaign website, Stop35K explains:
"Tier 2 General Skilled Workers who do not make £35,000 salary or who have been in the UK for 6 years, will need to leave or be deported.
The plans have naturally caused great concern for many individuals and families who have or are related to migrants who fail to meet this narrow criteria and who have already been long settled in the UK.
"If you are a skilled worker in the UK, your legal status depends on your Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa. This work visa usually expires after 5 years, after which you must either leave the UK or apply for settlement (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR). From this April, if you apply for settlement then you need to earn over £35,000. If you earn less than this, you will not be allowed to remain in the UK even if you have lived here for years, contributing to the UK culture and economy."
There has already been a huge turn out on the UK Parliament facebook page which has been designated for the public to share their stories on before the debate goes to parliament. Some of the most recent examples include:
"This is really amazing, I am an immigrant and have been working in the NHS for the past 14years, till date my salary as a band 7 nurse is £32,000. So please tell me how you expect this people to earn £35,000 within a year, when a government organisation is paying this low. This is indirect discrimination in a developed country. And it's an unfair way of dealing with migrants who are willing to contribute to the economy of UK as these people are not entitled to any social benefits and also restricted in what they can do earn more" - Bukky Omopariola
"NHS pharmacists are not on the protected list and do not earn that sort of money until many years into their careers. We can't recruit enough as it is and now the government are going to deport my colleague?" - Sarah Reed
"I am currently teaching at a university in China and met my American boyfriend - a teacher - here two years ago. I'd like to one day move back home with him but although we of course both plan to find full-time jobs; the realities of the sort of salary he could expect to make as a full time teacher and the fact that my salary is not even included in the £35k calculations means that even if I have a job with a significantly higher salary this policy would make it almost impossible for me to move long-term back to the UK." - Rachel Ashe
"What about Non-EU university students? They're one of the biggest sources of revenue for British Universities with extremely restricted after-graduation working rights. That's preposterous! Great Britain's progress is BECAUSE OF IMMIGRANTS not DESPITE them." - Neel Deshpande
"I have three university degrees and work in the international development sector, where very few jobs pay over £35 000. I support myself comfortably and present no burden whatsoever to the UK system, but this rule means that soon I will be forced to leave my home, my partner and my job. This £35k threshold determines the worth of an individual based solely on income rather than contribution to society, which is not just inhumane -- it's shortsighted." - Megan Daigle
The Petition Committee has scheduled a debate on a petition about this issue on Monday 7 March. Tell Parliament how this would affect you by commenting on their facebook page by midnight on Thursday 3 March.
Your comments will then be shared with MPs and used to help inform the debate.
"Landlords are now expected to act as Immigration Officers" the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants warns in recent report on the Government's 'Right to Rent' scheme
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has published a scathing report on the government's Right to Rent scheme, claiming the new legislation discriminates against migrants and BME individuals.
Saira Grant warned in a recent press release; “This scheme encourages discrimination and will create a hostile environment for all."
JCWI, who have been monitoring the scheme since it's pilot was launched last year, also warned that under the new scheme, landlords are forced to act as Immigration Officers; "We have no doubt that this scheme will cause confusion and place a significant burden on landlords who are now expected to take on the role of Immigration Officers. Local authorities, who are already under pressure due to funding cuts, will now find themselves burdened with more work."
"JCWI’s independent evaluation showed direct discrimination by landlords against those legally here but with complicated or unclear immigration status. These checks are also leading to increased racial profiling. Those who appear foreign or have foreign accents are finding it increasingly difficult to access tenancies."
Last year, JCWI reported "The Right to Rent checks form part of a package of measures intended to create a “hostile environment” for irregular migrants in the UK." 
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has conducted an independent evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme and has uncovered a number of negative impacts on tenants and landlords as a direct result of the scheme. The main findings are as follows:
The report also stated; "Landlords do not agree with the scheme with 69% stating they should not be made to undertake these checks."
"The Government rushed through the nationwide roll out, without proper consideration of the evidence found in our independent evaluation, and even evidence disclosed by their own evaluation."
"The Home Office has responded to our concerns surrounding the scheme here but the response is inadequate."
Podcast: Sarah Ayub talks #TraditionallySubmissive and Dianne Ngoza talks about her life as a migrant rights campaigner
We invited blogger, writer and MPACUK member, Sarah Ayub, to discuss the recent response to David Cameron's alleged comments regarding Muslim women which caused a strong reaction on social media.
After the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party announced that there would be funding for English Language programmes- specifically aimed at Muslim women to combat 'extremism', suggesting that Muslim women are 'traditionally submissive' and therefore more at risk of being 'radicalised', the Muslim women of twitter were not going to take his comments lying down.
#TraditionallySubmissive saw Muslim women of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds boasting of their achievements. Many held up signs listing degrees and hobbies that subvert the stereotype of the 'submissive' Muslim female.
Sarah Ayub discussed her concerns how such a mainstream political figure could make such harmful statements; "The link to extremism is what's worrying. He said himself- and he's contradicting himself- that learning English or language barriers lead to extremism."
"It was a very irresponsible comment for a Prime Minister to make."
Ayub also discussed the origins of these stereotypes and how the media perpetrates these images of Muslims that fuels racism and Islamophobia.
"A large responsibility also lies with some fragments of the media, where they show Islam and Muslims to be of a certain type, where they like to have a certain type of Muslim to show that this is what Muslims are like and that type of Muslim is always the really extreme, really conservative sort of Muslim and when that type of Muslim is depicted in the media, that is all that people see."
Meanwhile, Dianne Ngoza, a migrant rights campaigner originally from the Congo discussed her work with an impressive myriad of organisation in Greater Manchester including MiSol, United For Change, Women Asylum Seekers Together and City of Sanctuary as well as discussing her own experience as a migrant 'in limbo' in the UK.
You can hear the full podcast episode on Soundcloud.
Theresa May is looking to enforced further restrictions on migrant workers in the UK. From April 2016 non-EU migrants are required to be earning £35,000 to be able to remain in the UK regardless of the time they have spent here.
Holly Harwood has set up a 38 Degrees petition directed to Theresa May to overturn these destructive restrictions on migrant workers.
On the petition she states:
"This devastating new immigration rule must be stopped, as immigrants who have lived and worked in the UK for longer than 5 years should have the right to stay regardless of their income. We cannot allow this policy to happen, as it will split up families, jeopardise the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people and severely damage the economy. The Royal college of Nursing recently announced that this policy will cost the NHS MILLIONS because so many of it's nurses are non-EU migrants who earn under £35,000 and who will be deported under this policy. Recruiting new nurses will be time consuming and expensive, and will drain more of the money needed to save the NHS. Also, the average income for a UK born citizen is £26,600, so it is entirely unfair to deport immigrants who may earn more than the average UK born citizen, but less than £35,000. Please sign the petition to hopefully prevent this devastating policy from becoming reality"
Please sign the petition here.