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Grant Maimuna Jawo Asylum Now! Grant Josephine Asylum Now!
Women fighting to end FGM must be protected!
The demonstration, at 31-33 Newport Road is due to start at 1:30pm and is supported by No Borders South Wales – some of us will be there in solidarity.
“Maimuna’s fight is a collective fight. It will take building a movement to win, and by winning we will build a stronger and more determined movement. Maimuna’s struggle is our own struggle for freedom, and we know that when we stand together we can build on our strength as fighters and win.”
Sanctuary now for all women who flee FGM!
On the 14th of May this year the Queen gave royal ascension to the Immigration Bill. This bill had been launched on October 9th 2013 and sponsored by the Home Secretary Theresa May. It outlined the Coalition government’s new approach to what it considered to be the key problems of the immigration sector. Hopefully this post will highlight some of the history, contents and responses to the bill, which given its cross-societal nature, have been widespread and largely in opposition.
In overview, the bill deals with several large areas:
1) The extension of fingerprint and biometric controls, passport controls, and embarkation orders in order to better and more quickly identify illegal migrants. Increase powers to inquire into partnership and marriage statuses to prevent sham marriages.
2) Cut the number of decisions on which a migrant can appeal against asylum refusal and deportation from 17 down to 4. Create a policy of ‘deport first and appeal later’ in cases where no clear threat to life exists. Advance government pressure to reduce the use of Article 8 (EHR Right to Family Life) in court hearings. Increase restrictions on multiple requests for bail from immigration detainees.
3) Restrict access to illegal migrants in a number of areas. Firstly require landlords to check immigration status on prospective and existing tenants. Secondly enforcing a payment on those subject to immigration controls for short term stay visas or longer than 6 months (asylum seekers excluded) for use of the NHS. Others include requiring bank workers and driver licensing authorities to check applicants against immigration databases.
4) Increasing regulation over the immigration advice sector and enforcing payment of unpaid civil penalties.
A number of political factors and myths have led up to this bill being passed. As part of the general attack on the welfare state by the coalition, there has also been a policy of using immigration as the ‘sharp end of the wedge’. Nowhere more clearly has this been demonstrated than the increasing attacks on so-called ‘welfare tourism‘, in particular health tourism. The bill also plays into general public fears about abuse of human rights legislation to overstay in the UK, hence the attacks on Section 8 and other rights designed to protect family life. But far and away the bill is aimed at, in Theresa May’s own words, ‘creating a hostile environment for illegal immigrants‘, which is just what is aimed at with the removal of access to public services and private rented accommodation.
However, the reality on the ground does not bear out to these concerns. In particular the shocking lack of evidence for the claim that EU migrants are costing the NHS and the welfare state a fortune. After some particularly unpleasant comments by the Coalition aimed at European migrants, the European Commission demanded proof that welfare tourism was costing what Theresa May described as an ‘unacceptable burden’. What emerged from a leaked document was that in fact the UK does not keep figures on EU migrants who access welfare benefits, and so were unable to tell the Commission even how many migrants had rightfully accessed benefits, let alone fraudulently. In an immortal line the document stated ‘we consider that these questions place too much emphasis on quantitative evidence’. In other words, because some voter saw lots of Spanish people in an A+E once it must be the case that there is abuse, don’t let pesky evidence get in the way. In fact, figures for the cost to the NHS from migrants reveal that, at a generous estimate, migrants cost 12 million pounds a year. In perspective, this is 0.06% of the amount the NHS is being required to slash, or 0.011% of the total overall budget. So much for evidence based policy.
The major problem that this bill faces is the totally unethical and unworkable proposal that private landlords should become an arm of the immigration service, on pain of a £3000 fine. There has been an outcry from various organisations ranging from landlord advocacy groups, to homeless charities. If the bill goes through, the future of the rental sector will become thus: when someone applies for accomodation or is requested a property in the private sector through a Local Authority (LA), they will become subject to an immigration control. Every person regardless of skin colour or accent is in theory supposed to be checked. But overwhelmingly the concern is, even from landlords, a default to only accepting a UK passport or worse, a white UK passport. Given that there are in theory over 200 types of European ID documents, it’s not a surprise that landlords aren’t happy. In fact there is an endless list of ways in which this bill could go wrong, including – the changing nature of immigration statuses, surcharge by letting agents for immigration checks, clash between s.193 homelessness duty from an LA and immigration status and people fleeing violence or domestic abuse who may not have access to their documents. Overall this is an ill thought out piece of legislation, but the pilot schemes will be rolled out on the 1st of December in various cities. Despite this attempt to drive out illegal migrants, all this bill will do is make life harder for ordinary people, create discrimination where there was none and force illegals into the hands of criminal landlords. A recipe for housing exploitation and homelessness is to be expected.
To prevent this becoming an excessive length piece, there will be a follow up to cover the responses and opposition to the bill. For further information on the contents of the bill click here. A
News arrived on Tuesday afternoon that the Saleh family had been given removal directions for 8am the next morning. Friends of the family immediately scrambled to get to the hated ‘Barnardo’s’ detention centre ‘Cedars’, near Pease Pottage. By midnight we had some idea of numbers – around 20, or 25 tops – and all met up nearby for an impromptu picnic and a chat about what to do. Everyone was on the ball, everyone determined to do whatever they could to hold up that bus.
While we were talking two devastating pieces of news came through. An injunction had been passed to stop the Saleh family’s deportation but after a phone call from the UKBA explaining that the Border Agency had spent £60,000 on chartering a plane to deport the family, Judge Eady had reversed his decision and cancelled the injunction.
While we were reeling from that we were told that Mrs Saleh, a personal friend to some of us and the mother of one of our closest mates, had slit her wrists.
People fell to their knees, weeping. Others held each other tightly. As phone calls were made to scrape together further news, a picture emerged. Mrs Saleh was alive and, despite the mental and physical harm done to her by this situation, was still due to be deported. In her desperation she had written a message in blood on the wall of her cell: “I only wanted to save my children.”
We turned up at Cedars in drips and drabs, approaching on foot from the north in small, discrete groups who could duck into hedges and cover the white of their faces as headlights swelled in the darkness. At around 1.30 the first group was stopped by a police car near the entrance to the centre but others slipped past and melted into shadows and hedges. Police followed, trying to pick people out with torches but couldn’t seem to get a handle on our numbers. People moved up and down the road, drifting around the gates to the centre, and gradually moving to block both gates. A line of police formed up on the left gate but left the other gate alone as a small number of people were already clinging securely to the bars – they stayed there all night.
There was a stand-off for a good hour and a half. More police arrived and blocked the left gate, asking demonstrators to get off the drive but not trying to move them. The right hand gate, with people still clinging on, was further blocked by the arrival of a police car. The atmosphere was tense, as whispered plans were formed and reformed. More cop vehicles arrived on the scene, and a dog unit could be heard, gradually moving around behind the demonstrators at the left gate. People kept milling around, with no consistent numbers on either gate but lots of movement between the two. Police numbers seemed to be around the 30-40 mark.
The bus arrived at left gate around 3am. A line of us linked arms and tried to stand in its path but were roughly pulled apart and moved aside by police – the manhandling was quite intense considering our low numbers and some of the cops seemed rather wound up, barking at us to “back off” while holding us two-on-one in assorted wrist and arm locks.
That was when the screaming started. As the ruck was broken down one of ours was lying face down on the edge of the drive with two pigs on top of her, wailing at the top of her lungs for a medic. The medic was restrained a couple of metres away but the cops would neither let him go, nor get the injured woman the attention she needed. As the bus went into the centre everyone held at left gate except for this woman was shoved onto the grassy area between left and right gate. The medic kept an eye on the injured who was now frozen in a dodgy kneeling position, and kept asking the cops to let him through, call one of their medics, get an ambulance or at least support the person’s drooping head as the back injury could have been some kind of spinal. None of the cops seemed to give a toss but eventually an ambulance was called, although one of ours had already called one.
As the bus pulled through the gates a shadow darted across in front of it, dived beneath the chassis and locked itself on to the vehicle’s front axle. Immediately the call went up NOT to drive or try to drag the hero away. The bus was immobilised!
It was a good half hour before the ambulance arrived for our injured one, during which time no support or first aid was given by the police, no medic was called from Cedars, our medic was prevented from assessing the woman and the cop assigned to ‘looking after’ her pretty much just wandered around with her hands in her pockets.
Then, after around 45 minutes, the Fire Brigade arrived to cut away our lock-on hero. People tried to persuade them they were enabling an illegal deportation and that the family would face honour killing, violence and rape if they complied with the police. Unfortunately the fire crew did not show their usual courage and made no attempt to delay their work. This horrific system is made up of thousands of people ‘only doing their job’. Lock-on guy was busted for aggravated trespass but has now been released on bail without charge. Perhaps the CPS is unsure whether a lock on in this case counts as disruption of a ‘lawful’ activity, as the deportation itself is so dodgy…
Then came a quiet spell. Some of us watched silhouettes – possibly those of the family – waving from a first floor window. Others attempted to engage individual cops with the issue. Mostly we got blank faces, and cowardly rubbish about ‘following orders’. However, we pressed on, talking to them anyway undeterred by their refusal to talk to us. Eventually some of them wavered, clearly interested now. We attempted to persuade them that they, as individuals, had full autonomy at every moment of their lives but were using their energy and choices to protect an activity they couldn’t actually defend in conversation. Another cop was welling up when we explained that Mrs Saleh’s 17 year old daughter now faces FGM, rape and forced marriage. She was wiping tears away as we told her about our friend in Cardiff, desperate for her mother not to be sent away to her death, and wondered aloud what we would do without our own mothers. We explained that her shield of passive aggression, training and discipline was a barrier to her expressing the healthy emotions she clearly felt about the situation, that we were there because we felt something and she was there because she wasn’t allowed to. I hope a degree of soul searching has followed that conversation.
More cops arrived on site, and around 5.30 we got the message that the family had been moved from their rooms to board the coach. This was make or break time.
The cops around left gate had surged and now an escort van was waiting for the bus in the driveway. We were hideously outnumbered. Someone counted 30 cop vehicles on Brighton Road – more than one car for each of us – and who knows how many cops. The bus moved to the gate at around 6.30am, running very late. It had been held up for hours but was now implacable. One of ours tried to stand in front of the escort van and collapsed rather than be moved away. Physically restrained and overwhelmed, we could do nothing but shout and struggle as the coach drove past.
We piled into cars and tore down the motorway but could find no trace of the bus. One car went to Heathrow but no-one would tell us anything, the others went to Gatwick and came up blank but ran into a ton of armed cops, who weren’t too pleased by the sudden appearance of ‘No Borders’ types and gave our crew some hassle. Sadly, the Saleh family was deported at 8am but we couldn’t even confirm this for hours.
We now have more details. The day after the Director of Prisons issued a damning report ordering G4S to stop using force on minors in detention centres, Mrs Saleh’s 17 year old son was beaten up under the noses of sell-out charity Barnardo’s for resisting deportation. The family called us from an airport in Italy before being bundled onto a Denim Air charter flight and landing in Cairo that evening. They received some form of hassle from Egyptian airport staff and are now lying low, waiting for the next move.
Before their plane even touched down an appeal launched by Mrs Saleh’s solicitor was gathering serious momentum. Due process has been undermined in deporting this family before their judicial review hearing. A judge has reversed an injunction based on the cost of the family’s charter flight after being leaned-on at the 11th hour by some UKBA scumhole. And a minor was beaten up at a Barnardo’s-run detention centre within 24 hours of fierce condemnation of such practices by the Director of Prisons. These people are going to learn that they are not invulnerable and there are serious legal consequences to their actions.
Love and rage to all people facing detention or deportation, and to everyone fighting this sick, sick border regime.
PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION in Support of SALEH FAMILY!
Saturday 27th October, 11.30am
Aneurin Bevan Statue on Queen St, Cardiff.
Bring signs, banners, instruments and friends!
Despite the best efforts of a handful of friends and family who blockaded Cedars detention centre and held up the coach for 5 hours, Mrs Saleh and her children were taken to an airport on Wednesday morning and deported to Egypt. However, the appeal against this course of action is building serious momentum as there have been a huge number of irregularities, illegalities and clear cases of abuse surrounding these events. Watch this space – we will be posting a detailed update really soon.
DEMONSTRATE! In Support of the Saleh Family
11.30am, Saturday 27th October
Aneurin Bevan Statue, Queen St, Cardiff.
Bring banners, signs, messages of support, and of course everyone you know!
Today was an international day of action for trade unionist Yahya Al-Faifi, who is under threat of deportation to Saudi Arabia. There were protests outside the offices of the Home Secretary in Whitehall, outside the UK Border Agency in Cardiff, as well as outside the British embassy in Brussels.
Yahya and his family fled Saudi Arabia after threats of fatal attack because of his trade union activity, eventually settling in south Wales. However, Yahya has had his application for asylum refused and he now faces the very real possibility of being deported back to a country with a horrific human rights record where trade unions are illegal.
It is very likely that if deported it will be BMI Airlines who are called on to do the governments dirty work, as they have previously Read the rest of this entry »
With 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 Borders, Defy 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.
Biometric ID cards will come into force for non-EU students and spouses from 25th November and will be issued from offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Sheffield. We will be holding a protest outside the Home Office building in Cardiff and hope for protests outside each of the other offices on that day. You can read an excellent overview of the introduction of ID cards over in an article entitled “IDentity politics: new biometric cards for foreign nationals” in Corporate Watch, we have also produced a leaflet detailing the government timetable and calling for protests around the country on the launch day. Please download, print, photocopy and distribute!
“First they forced ID cards on asylum seekers,
and I didn’t protest because I wasn’t an asylum seeker.
Now they’re forcing ID cards on non-EU migrants,
and I didn’t protest because I wasn’t a non-EU migrant
Next they’re forcing ID cards on airport workers,
and then they’re going to force one on me…”
Borders are rising around all of us, immigration law already gives the Home Office powers it would like to exert over everybody. We are against repression in all its forms and the many controls which would restrict the lives of everyone. The UK is becoming a mass surveillance society, migrants are at the very sharp end. We are keen to work with other opponents of ID cards to build a grassroots resistance to state control, please get in touch.
By resisting the repression of migrants, we defend the freedom of everyone!
Here are some more pictures of our recent awareness raising anti-ID card protest outside the Passport office in Newport a few weeks back:
Articles covering the protest also appeared in Bath Bomb and Digital ID.
Tomorrow night at 9.00pm the latest ‘fly-on-the-wall’ reality TV show following around law enforcement agencies will air on the subscribtion channel Sky One. Controversially this eight-part series will be funded by £400,000 of taxpayers’ money. “Border Force” follows the activities of UK Border Agency enforcement teams at Heathrow, Dover and Calais.
This “advertiser-funded” deal with Steadfast Television out of public funds has been condemned by a wide spectrum, though RickB over at Ten Percent puts it most succinctly:
“the most thuggish and racist arm of our security state is getting a shiny makeover for credulous idiots who no doubt will rail against ‘government spending their taxes’ on ’scroungers and foreigners’ yet are in fact having that world-view fed and formed…by government funded shows.”
According to Media watchdog Ofcom’s rules sponsor of television programmes cannot influence content or scheduling and must not affect editorial independence. However, keen to appear ‘tough on immigration” The Home Office defended what appear to be an incredibly blatant taxpayer funded propaganda:
“The important message is that it is a good use of taxpayers’ money. The series will allow the public to better understand the work of the UKBA.”
Interestingly the last TV show funded by the Home office “Beat: Life on the Street” which followed police community support officers (PCSOs) is being examined by Ofcom to see if it broke rules on programme sponsorship.
No Borders South Wales will be watching the series with interest, and will be commenting on each episode in detail.
On Sunday 9th September, asylum seeker Jackie Aber & her son Naseem were seized by Immigration Officers & taken from their home in Swansea to Yarlswood detention prison. Jackie was tortured & raped by the Ugandan army, she escaped an army prison, entered the UK & claimed asylum. Although accepted by the Immigration Appellate Authority as a ‘believable witness’, the Home Office refused her asylum claim stating that she would not be in danger of persecution if she was returned to a differnet part of Uganda. Finding new evidence that she Read the rest of this entry »
On 28th August members of the Congolese Community of Wales & supporters from No Borders demonstrated outside the Home Office against the deportation of Congolese asylum seekers. Despite Foreign Office advice to British nationals “not to travel at all” to eastern & north-eastern DRC & against “all but essential travel” to the rest of the country as it is deemed “too unstable,” the Home Office continues Read the rest of this entry »