Today we held one of our regular pickets of the UK Border Agency offices in Cardiff. Whenever we hold one of these protests we distribute “Campaign to Stay” leaflets to the asylum seekers who are forced to sign there. We also give an information leaflet to passers by, the leaflet explains:
General Buildings, 31-33 Newport Road (map) is the regional offices of the Border Agency, which is a Government agency of the Home Office. This agency make decisions on people’s claims for asylum, decides who can and cannot stay in the UK and are responsible for detaining and deporting thousands of migrants every year.
Migrants come to the UK to in search of a better life. They may be escaping from poverty, from war, from environmental disasters. They may have been abused, imprisoned, persecuted, tortured or had their lives threatened because of their religion, their political opinions, their sexuality, their ethnicity or because of their gender. Whatever the reason that someone has come to the UK, they do not get an ‘easy ride’ and they do not deserve to be treated in the cruel way that our government treats them.
People have moved freely across the globe for thousands of years, without any need for these movements being controlled. Migration controls and the techniques of migration management are a very recent phenomenon of human history. It wasn’t until the 1905 Aliens Act that we saw the first law aimed at controlling migration into Britain.
Now we have a brutal & dehumanising migration regime in the UK. Asylum applicants, including children, are routinely imprisoned in immigration detention centres, despite having committed no crime. Refused asylum applicants are routinely detained in police station cells (including Rumney in Cardiff) despite having committed no crime.
Refused asylum seekers can have their homes raided in the very early hours when they are sleeping, where Immigration officials snatch children and their families to detain and deport them. Such ‘snatch squads’ operate from the Newport Road Border Agency office. There have also been numerous reports of physical assaults on migrants who are being deported by the security personnel who are escorting them.
Asylum applicants are forced to live in poverty in the UK. They are not allowed to work and risk prison if they do. They receive just 70% of standard Income Support benefit levels. If an asylum application is refused, but a migrant is unable to return because the situation in their country is too dangerous, such as Iraq, they get no benefits but may get £35 a week in vouchers and are not allowed to work.
You may often hear or read stories about there being ‘too many’ asylum seekers or refugees in this country and that we are being ‘flooded’ by immigrants. In fact, refugees and asylum seekers make up only 0.3% of the Welsh population.
Supporting people who have come to the UK for protection and for a better life should not be viewed as a ‘drain’ on public resources, especially when our government spends £billions on wars, £millions on a Royal Family we did not choose, £millions on MP’s expenses and where very rich British people can be allowed to avoid paying taxes.
We are protesting in solidarity with the people whose lives are under attack from the bureaucrats inside this building; who took cancer patient Ama Sumani from her hospital bed and sent her to her death, who sent BB, Jean Pierre Gueutchue and so many others to uncertain, unsafe futures, away from people they loved and who loved them. We will be protesting outside these offices for as long as the government enforces racist border controls.