In the UK, on average, 50 people a day are forcibly removed from their homes and deported. In Cardiff, snatch squads leave from the UK Border Agency on 31-33 Newport Road in order to smash in peoples’ doors and drag them out of bed.
On Monday morning, UK Border Agency ‘Officers’ were at work early, busy at an address on Newport Road. The UKBA used dark blue anonymous unmarked vans, with blacked out windows. They kept a careful watch of passers by, as they bundled a family’s possessions into the vans and drove away.
With the vehicles were parked aggressively across the pavements they were, however, hard to miss. The UK Border Agency do this at dawn to ensure children are still sleeping so the whole family can be taken. Refugees seeking asylum are treated like this all over Cardiff, and it’s clearly happening on our streets.
Once families are grabbed, they are transported to a local police station, before being dumped in squalid detention centres. Children are taken away from their friends and schools. Worse still, the family’s links with their community, their support and their solicitors are broken, making it impossible for them to resist the actions of the UKBA.
The recent report by Childrens’ Commisioner for England after a visit to Yarl’s Wood detention centre describes how “dawn raids” involve up to 20 officers arriving in the early hours of the morning to seize families. In the report children describe how doors are broken down, how they are shouted at to get out of bed and are searched by Border Agency officials. An 11 year-old is quoted in the report as saying:
“They pushed me on the floor and got my hands behind me (demonstrated how he was on floor) then they took me to the van. I was on my own in the van. I didn’t know what was happening to my family.”
In 2006 the High Court awarded a family £150,000 compensation after they had been left traumatised by a dawn raid where immigration officials raided their home and took the couple and their one and eight year old daughters to Yarl’s Wood detention centre for 57 days.