What is the hostile environment?

Put simply, the hostile environment intentionally blocks people from accessing vital services that the majority of us need to survive and thrive including: public healthcare, state education, housing and homelessness support, driving licences, social support, welfare benefits and bank accounts.

When the hostile environment policy was officially ‘launched’ in 2012 by then-Home Secretary (later Prime Minister) Theresa May, she strategically used inflammatory and dehumanising language to state that, “The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants.”

The hostile environment also attempts to turn everyday people into border guards, encouraging us to check and surveil our own neighbours and communities – for example by placing duties on us to check other people’s immigration status in a range of settings including healthcare, education, housing and more.

Everything you need to know about the hostile environment, why it was created and who it serves, how it upholds a system of racial capitalism and what we can do to resist it.

What is the hostile environment?

By Leah Cowan