Jacqueline McKenzie is a lawyer from McKenzie, Beute and Pope law firm based in South London. She has also set up and directs the Centre for Migration Advice and Research, was a member of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review advisory group as well as the Windrush Stakeholders Advisory Group.
Against the Manufacturing of Consent for Racism: Jacqueline McKenzie tells the Burning Work Digital Forum how the Windrush Lessons Learned Review pins blame for the Windrush Scandal on the Home Office, not the racist ideology which she sees underpinning almost every immigration law between the United Kingdom and former colonies. McKenzie argues that what needs to be challenged is the racist depictions of ‘migrants’, manufactured to divide communities to construct these rules which determine whether people can live, work and access public services in this country.
In addition, although she hopes the 30 recommendations of the review will go far to support vulnerable people in a fugitive relation to public services, it does not claim that the Home Office is by ‘definition’ institutionally racist. However, the definition must be revisited as the review concludes the Home Office was ignorant of British colonial history, suffered institutional amnesia regarding race, has broken responsibilities to equality legislation and uses dehumanising practices of law enforcement which all fall into the tenets of institutional racism.
Community Infrastructure: McKenzie, Beute and Pope supports foreign nationals or, in the cases of Windrush, British citizens, who cannot access an immigration lawyer in prison, at an immigration detention centre or, due to living in fear, are undocumented. Given her firm specialises in immigration, asylum and refugee law, they were prepared to respond to an invitation from the Black Cultural Archives to set up a legal surgery in Brixton.
Windrush cases date back decades therefore recording testimony takes time and resources. Jacqueline McKenzie, along with her colleague Michele, identified the need for more immigration lawyers so delivered a 10 week legal study group with the aim to create a new cohort of accredited practitioners. The group contains members of Windrush groups from Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Preston and London.
Moving Against Policy: Jacqueline McKenzie argues that a lot of work needs to be done to expand what we understand ‘policy’ to be. She points to the political process of changing the law, alongside the cultural process of transforming society through writing papers, books, making films and music. She states that in the wake of Windrush, we shouldn’t be limited by the paradigms which currently exist and that we’ve got to look for new ways of conducting and presenting primary research.
Jacqui points to how changing the law is part of the answer and agrees that the current design of justice is inadequate, as there are a lot of people who just won’t qualify for compensation as they cannot demonstrate loss or harm. In light of her comments on moving against the manufacturing of consent for racism and towards the building of community infrastructure, Jacqui concludes with the point of how moving against policy requires rethinking the broader process of community development.