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Over 60 people attended our protest against the introduction of Biometric ID Cards for non-EU students and spouses on Tuesday. The demonstration was held for a couple of hours at midday outside the Cardiff office of the UK Border Agency at 31-33 Newport Road. People the government is forcing to carry ID cards will have to attend this centre for interrogation, photographing and Read the rest of this entry »

internal-bordersHistorically borders only existed at state boundaries, now however over the last year the government has repeatedly stated adamant that:

“border control can no longer be a fixed line on a map”

From Tuesday non-Europeans applying for, or renewing visas for study or marriage, will be required to attend a UK Border Agency centre. There they will be interrogated, fingerprinted, have their Read the rest of this entry »

idcard21With the launch date for the first wave of ID cards of Tuesday 25th November fast approaching, more information on the shape of the scheme is coming to the public domain. Resistance to ID cards for airport workers appears to be having an effect, plans of protest are developing in all six cities where the the ID cards issuing centres are, with No BordersDefy ID and no2id activists indicating their intention to take to the streets. The addresses of the UK Border Agency centres where student and marriage visa applicants will have to go to have their photograph and fingerprints taken are -

  • Birmingham – Dominion Court, 41 Station Road, Solihull, Birmingham, B91 3RT (map)
  • Croydon – Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon, CR9 2BY (map)
  • Cardiff General Buildings, 31-33 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 6AB (map)
  • Glasgow – Festival Court, 200 Brand Street, Govan, Glasgow, G51 1DH (map)
  • Liverpool - Reliance House, 20 Water Street, Liverpool, L2 8XU (map)
  • Sheffield – Vulcan House, 6 Millsands, Sheffield S3 8NU (map)

No Borders South Wales will be protesting outside the Cardiff centre from 12 noon on the Tuesday 25th November. We welcome all opponents of the increasing levels of social control that the government wishes to extend over all our lives to take part. Join us during your lunch break from work or study to show solidarity with migrants being victimised by these cynical divide and rule tactics by The Home Office. By resisting the repression of migrants, we defend the freedom of everyone!

Somewhat unsurprisingly The Home Office are predicting considerable delays in their processing time, and the Border Agency centres will not all be ready to take ID applications at the same time, the roll out of the scheme being – 25th November: Croydon, 1st December:  Sheffield, 4th December: Liverpool, 8th December: Birmingham, 10th December: Cardiff, 12th December: Glasgow.

On Saturday afternoon over 30 people joined with No Borders South Wales outside Newport Passport Office to protest against the introduction of ID cards for non-EU foreign nationals resident in the UK from this November.

Thousands of copies of our new leaflet “Big Brother is coming“, produced especially for the event, were distributed to members of the public. The leaflet lays out the government timetable for rolling out the scheme and makes the point that these new ID cards are not only a repressive measure against migrants, they are the first shot in an attack against everyone’s freedom. The vast majority of passers by who took the time out to speak with people on the demonstration were very supportive of our campaign and were adamant that they would not accept an ID card themselves.

A dozen police were waiting by the Passport office at 2pm when people arrived. The senior officer informed people that they were willing to ‘facilitate’ the protest providing only two people were stood outside the entrance to the passport office and everyone else stood on the other side of the road. The police were politely but firmly told that that was both unreasonable and unacceptable. The officer then said he would go inside the office and then return to implement “another course of action”. Unsurprisingly, this other course of action was to completely abandon his original demand and only ask us not to block the entrance, which we had already told him we had no intention of doing.

Though in this case the police soon realised we were not going to be bullied around and the protest was able to pass off without too much of their interference, it is a concern that less experienced people wishing to exercise their legal right to protest are intimidated into being sidelined into designated “protest zones”. Across the UK police forces regularly demand that protest organisers contact them beforehand, despite the fact we all have the right to gather and protest without asking for permission. Under the guise of “minimising disruption” and even protecting the protest from disgruntled members of the public(?!?), it is increasingly common for police to view an effectively policed protest as one which as few people as possible are aware is happening. A good example of this was the march against the military academy in Cardiff which the police forced out of sight down back-streets, earlier this year.

Four officers from Gwent Police’s ‘Evidence Gathering Team’ filmed participants at the demonstration constantly, both from a distance and at close range. They also frequently checked the inside of their hats where we believe they kept their ‘spotter cards’ which identify known activists. These four officers then followed a number of the demonstrators to a local pub where they stood outside patiently in the rain, waiting for them to come out and then followed them again, over the River Usk to the legendary TJs where Smash EDO were showing a film to build support for their upcoming protest before day two of No Border Fest. Their actions are clearly politically motivated. As one passer by noted:

“I didn’t know there were so many police in Newport”

The reaction of the NO2ID campaign to the introduction of these ID cards has been underwhelming to say the least. And has largely been limited to the press release quoted in a previous post and this extract from a longer comment on their website:

“Resistance to the database state is growing, but that has not discouraged Whitehall. It seems more determined than ever to sneak round obstacles using misdirection and to find new, softer, targets…

Latest of those soft targets are overseas students, and people seeking to settle in the UK with British husbands and wives. Those, people with strong reasons not to make a fuss, are the ones to be targeted for the new biometric card scheme that will act as a test bed for the ID scheme. Jacqui Smith’s launch of “ID cards for foreigners” was a shameless piece of spin to try to associate the unpopular ID scheme with the popular policy of restricting immigration.

There’s no real link. And it is unclear how much technology there is yet. But immigration law already gives the Home Office some of the powers it would like to exert over everyone, and so it has a free hand to try out, on a few selected foreign residents, the processes it eventually intends to use for everyone else.”

The discussion about this protest on the NO2ID forum certainly seems to reveal real naivety amongst at least some sections of NO2ID supporters, with one poster commenting that

“They aren’t ID cards for foreigners. They are biometric residence and work permits.

It comes to something when a supposed opponent of the database state is inventing meaningless spin for the government as they are about to introduce the first ID cards! It is a shame that this new move by the home office is not recognised by more anti-ID activists for being what the government is very open about. This unwillingness to defend the rights of migrants endangers the struggle for everyone’s liberty. Previously Defy ID has been a vehicle for opposition to ID cards from a libertarian perspective, but given the manner in which the government is using a a greater repression of migrants as a testing ground for this scheme No Borders must intervene.

Then you should be concerned about the repression of migrants by government and corporate immigration ‘services’. ID cards have already been tested on migrants seeking asylum and will be used next on other ‘foreigners’.

The Application Registration Card has to be carried by everyone seeking asylum for their regular reporting and to obtain National Asylum Support Service payments from the post office. It is an ID card containing the bearer’s fingerprint, photograph, name, date of birth and nationality.

From this November foreign nationals wanting to enter the UK will have to apply for “biometric residence permits” and their details will be entered into a national identity database. From next year foreign nationals living in the UK will begin to be issued with ID cards. Once migrants have been used to test the scheme, the government’s plan is to issue identity cards to UK citizens on a voluntary basis from 2010, then in 2011 bringing in compulsory  ‘choice’ of a passport, ID card or both.

The fact that ID cards and fingerprinting technology has been tested on refugees shows that the state is prepared to impose ID on those people with the least voice to oppose it, before rolling it out to the whole population. The government is trying to get ID plans accepted by cynical scapegoating of immigrants especially ‘asylum seekers’ . 

No Borders South Wales will be holding a protest against ID cards, biometric passports, and the surveillance society in general on Saturday 4th October at 2pm outside the Passport Office, Olympia House, Upper Dock Street, Newport, NP20 1XA (map). We will be distributing leaflets and raising awareness about the new ID laws that come into force this November. Come and join us.

This article first appeared in the new No Borders South Wales Newsletter, you can download a copy here.

Last night there was a NO2ID benefit gig in Cardiff, organised by the local group, a few members of No Borders South Wales attended, and were well entertained by the performers; Lou Noble, Cosmo, Missdalogik, The Fix Up, New State Radio and Sicknote.

We used the opportunity of the gig to give out copies of our new leaflet against ID cards that draws attention to the way in which migrants are being used as a testing ground for a repressive system that the UK government wants to impose on everyone.

An article on the Cardiff Radical Socialist Forum “No2ID – with friends like these, who needs enemies?” has been the subject of some debate. ID cards has long been an unpopular concept in the UK, meaning authoritarian organisations with no real respect for personal freedom have given their backing to the NO2ID campaign.

We encourage opponents of ID cards to look at what is happening with the control of migrants, and see the thin end of wedge of the surveillance society. No doubt some of the less libertarian supporters of NO2ID would disagree with our stance on freedom of movement, hopefully others will agree. We wholeheartedly believe that the frontline of opposition to the creeping surveillance state is the defence of migrants, especially asylum seekers.

Politically No Borders has affinity with the Defy-ID network, which came out of the libertarian milieu. There was a Cardiff Defy-ID group, though it appears inactive. No Borders Nottingham and Defy-ID Nottingham published an article “Defy-ID and No Borders – Better together” we echo their sentiments.

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