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Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Strangers into Citizens rally
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Just days after their defeat on Ghurkas, the Government will be facing a call on Monday by a coalition of faith leaders, NGOs, MPs and trade unions for 450,000 long-term irregular migrants to be made UK citizens.

Religious services at Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall are expected to attract 8,000 people in what is set to be the largest-scale public expression of faith in a generation.

Bolstered by groups arriving from across London and from other UK cities, some 20,000 people will gather in Trafalgar Square on Monday to hear speeches by faith and political leaders in a colourful spectacle including Chinese dragons and performances by PeteBox and AsianDub Foundation.

The Strangers into Citizens rally following religious services in the nation’s mother churches is expected to be the largest of its kind ever held.

The mayor of London, the Liberal-Democrat party, and dozens of MPs, faith leaders and businessmen are among those backing the proposal by the Strangers into Citizens campaign for a pathway into citizenship for a Spanish-style regularisation of long-term undocumented migrants as advocated by Barack Obama and called for across the US on 1 May.

Policy think tanks from all sides of the political spectrum back the idea. The Greater London Assembly has commissioned research by the LSE, to be launched later this month, which shows the measure would benefit the UK.

This is the second Strangers into Citizens rally. The first, in 2007, attracted more than 10,000. The idea was first mooted by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor in a Mass for Migrant Workers at Westminster Cathedral in May 2006.

Timetable (4 May)

10am ‘Strangers into Citizens’ Gospel Service begins at Methodist Central Hall, attended by Baptists, Methodists, URC, NCTG etc. Bishop Eric Brown (NTCG) and Rev. Ermal Kirby (London Methodist) preside. Igbo dancers.

10am Latin-American service of blessing begins at the Fusion Centre, Elephant & Castle presided by five pastors of various denominations.

10.15am Chinese service begins at Chinese Outreach Church, Shaftesbury Avenue

10.30am Mass for Migrant Workers begins at Westminster Cathedral. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and other London bishops celebrate.

11am Anglican ‘Strangers into Citizens’ service begins at St Margaret’s church, Westminster Abbey. Preacher: Bishop Tom Butler of Southwark. Zimbabwean choir.

11am Rally in Tothill St (Parliament Sq.) of Muslim organizations, trade unions, ethnic associations and groups arriving from outside London.

11.15am Latin-American service ends. Latin-Americans begin ‘walk of witness’ from Elephant & Castle, arriving 1210 on Westminster Bridge.

11.30am Mass for Migrants ends. Congregations walks down Victoria St to Parliament Sq.

11.40am Anglican service ends. Congregation assembles in Parliament Sq.

1145 Gospel Service ends. Congregation assembles in Parliament Sq.

12noon Chinese rally in Chinatown.

12.15am Walk of Witness begins from Parliament Sq to Trafalgar Sq.

12.20am AsianDub Foundation plays in Trafalgar Sq

1pm Chinese enter Trafalgar Sq by north end (by National Gallery).

1-3pm Strangers into Citizens rally. Speeches by Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, trade unions, politicians, ethnic associations, local councils, interspersed by singers and bands. Cultural performances by Igbo dancers, Mongolians, Filipinos, etc.

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