The Context

There are a large number of immigrants living in South Africa, estimates varying between one and three million, the most vulnerable of which are asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented immigrants who comprise the largest share of the immigrant population. The fact that such a large share of the immigrant population is undocumented is at least in part the result of huge backlogs, poor queue management, corruption, and a general lack of resources at the Refugee Reception Centres across South Africa, as well as an incoherent immigration policy in general.

This group of undocumented immigrants is acutely under-represented in labour unions, civil society and community activism efforts, and not represented at all politically. This lack of representation leaves them with compromised access to education, health care, labour rights, shelter, and even the most basic human rights. They are among the most easily and widely exploited individuals in South Africa, and are often made the victims of targeted hate crimes and xenophobic aggression. In 2008, over 60 immigrants were killed and over 30,000 people were forcefully displaced as a result of xenophobic attacks throughout South Africa. In 2009, the attacks were repeated and over 3,000 people were displaced in the Western Cape alone. PASSOP fights for the rights of this acutely marginalized group of people.