Barely two weeks a United Kingdom (UK) pilot scheme that aims to encourage ‘Illegal Immigrants’ to leave the country voluntarily has found enormous resistance from all sections since it was launched on, July 22.
Although the government insists, this pilot campaign is part of the several reforms of the immigration system that have cut out abuse; seen migration drop to its lowest levels in nearly a decade and tries to restrict ‘illegal migrants’ to access the UK benefits and services.
Critics and human rights activists condemned the campaign and they believe, it’s a ‘secretive’ methods used to targeting ethnically mingled areas with such discriminatory adverts that read; ‘Illegal’ immigrants; “Go Home or face arrest”, and is a total breached the Equality Act 2010.
This campaign generally viewed as the Secretary of State’s ‘breach of the equality duties’; ‘failure to regard the needs to eliminate discrimination and promote opportunity in terms of race and religion and belief, since no equality impact assessments.’
“The campaign is stated to a one-week pilot, although there does not appear to be any plans to remove the campaign materials from the newsagents, money transfer shops and internet cafes they have said to have been distributed in and will, therefore, remain in those places. It is unclear whether the campaign will be rolled out further and if so when and where to,” reads the petition,” reads part of the petition, which refers to Breach of Section 149, Equality Act 2010.
A number of leaked documents and e-mails from top civil servants obtained by this newspaper reaffirm a probable divide between the Home Office and local authorities in six London Boroughs over the methods used to encourage. The division emerged when the Refugee & Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL), complained about the Home Office Enforcement Division actions and failure in the launching the campaigns in six boroughs without informing the local authorities.
Obtained documents indicate disagreements, including a possible legal challenge in court, because the Home Office employed the vans carrying the “discriminatory” messages and are being driven around the boroughs with high ethnic background without the knowledge of the local authorities.
The campaign criticised by local authorities; law firms; charities and politicians was launched by the Home Office in July, with vans drive around six London boroughs; displaying large adverts, as well as leaflets, posters and messages in local newspapers.
In a Thursday, July 25, 7-paged petition, obtained by this newspaper, Deighton Pierce Glynn pushes the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Mark Harper to put and an end to the spiteful campaign.
Deighton Pierce Glynn a law firm that specialises in matters of concern where public bodies like the Home Office act outside their powers, wants the minister to put a stop to the discriminatory campaign. It has given Home Office Minister [Mark Harper] 14 days to remove the vans or they take home office to court; according to a letter dated July 25.
“We have advised our clients that your decision is unlawful and susceptible to challenge by way of judicial review for the reasons set out below,” reads in part a Deighton Pierce Glynn’s dossier to the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Harper.
It adds: “We, therefore, urge you to confirm within 14 days of this letter that no further adverts of this nature will be displayed in the community, and that all reasonable steps will be taken to promote distributed materials, failing which we are instructed to instigate proceedings against you.”
The petitioners, who are indicated as; Raymond Murray and Andreas Talocka further say: “No consultation was carried out with the affected London boroughs or any community groups. Our clients are residing lawfully in the UK. They are recent residents of Redbridge and visit the area regularly to access services. They are members of minority groups who face discrimination and are very concerned about the impact of this campaign.”
The affected six boroughs referred to, and where the campaigns are being carried out include Hounslow, Barking & Dagenham, Ealing, Barnet, Brent and Redbridge.
“To meet the public sector equality duty the Secretary of State was effectively under a duty to consult those affected by the campaign ie the relevant local authorities and migrant community groups. Without carrying out a consultation, the Secretary of State would not have the necessary information to inform her decision making so as to comply with s149.”
The law firm also challenges the minister that: “If any part of this summary of the factual background is disputed or believed by you to be inaccurate please identify in your response each part of the factual background that is disputed.
Please explain why it is disputed and please provide full details of the basis for this alternative factual account including copies of any reports or relevant contemporaneous records upon which it is based.
Separately, Paul Wylie, the UK Home Office Enforcement Division Chief, appears to have no compromising words in an e-mail message sent to RAMFEL’s Chief Executive – Rita Chadha.
“More generally I hope you appreciate that we are both [UK Enforcement Division and RAMFEL] trying to support people to get free of exploitation and destitution in the UK,” said Wylie.
In what sounds like uncompromising language about the dignity and vicious treatment to foreigners, Mr Wylie said that: “ Our tactics and purpose are of course different but I still think that we can help you to achieve your goals where it suits the individual’s circumstance.” Mr Wylie was responding to a question by Ms. Chadha, who wanted to know the specific points of clarification on the campaign launched to clamp down on the ‘illegal’ migrants.
RAMFEL covers the Barking & Dagenham borough.
London areas are where a majority of East Africans and African live and work.
In these economic uncertainties, the indigenous of East London fear that the new settlers have taken their jobs and over stretched the social services’ system. This makes it difficult for those without proper papers to hide anywhere; border agency apparatus surprises with dawn raids.
The London clean up launched against “Illegal” immigrants by the British government, with Home Office Enforcement Division’s adverts, continue to stir the already deep-seated and long-standing sentiments among British anti-migrants when it comes to matters of immigration issues.
To justify what is already deeply seated and infested into the minds of British people, an e-mail to Rita Chadha, which this newspaper has obtained a copy, a Home Office Enforcement Division chief, Wylie, who is overseeing these campaigns to nab the “unwanted” immigrant in the UK, he [Wylie] wrote: “It’s the same issues that we discussed when we met – we don’t want to arrest anyone, but I’d rather our detention estate was full of rapists and those who persistently offend, thereby freeing up our staff to help support those who want to go home.”
The Home Office Enforcement Division Chief, when informed about the possible legal aspects, in his response, Mr Wylie said: “There is no need for an Equality Impact Assessment, it is only a pilot and we are not treating any individual groups differently on race/gender/age etc, simply on immigration status which is not a category in the Equality Act 2010.”
“We may disagree on this matter,” said Wylie, adding that: “The scheme is a pilot – it is seeing whether if we make our enforcement activity more visible to immigration offenders, whether they would appreciate that it is far better to voluntarily return home than face being arrested, detained, removed on a charter flight etc.”
“It is a tough message, but I hope you’ll agree that it’s a very real risk that they currently face,” said Mr Wylie.
He added: “ However, it will only be a successful scheme if it makes immigration offenders realise that there is a mutually beneficial alternative – a voluntary return where we can help to obtain a travel document or purchase a flight on a scheduled airline without fear of arrest or detention.” Mr Wylie claim is in reference to a number of foreigners who fear to show-up at the Home Office for smooth return to their respective countries of origin when their stay in the UK expire.
Home Office Enforcement Division Chief, Wylie further explained that: “Our operational debriefs have consistently shown that too few offenders actually realised that we would offer this service and fear approaching the Home Office because they think we would arrest them.”
Though, Immigration Minister Mark Harper who is in full support of this pilot project said: “We are making it more difficult for people to live and work in the UK illegally. Every single day our enforcement officers are arresting, detaining and removing people with no right to be in the UK.”
The RAMFEL, an East London-based charity weighed in on the policy proposal and the mechanism used, they [charity] wants the activities to be humane rather than using brute means.
The Chief Executive of RAMFEL, Ms Chadha, contested and disagreed with the Home Office Enforcement chief about the routine employed during the exercise.
Ms Chadha wondered whether the Home Office as a public body has a duty to promote disintegration.
Though, the Home Office Enforcement Division campaign boss who claims, “it’s” a fair deal to ‘illegal immigrants’ with arrangements to have them an attractive send off to their respective countries.
ALSO SEE: Meet British Drag Queen: Craig Revel Horwood.
However, according to Ms Chadha of RANFEL said that, Paul [Wylie] informed her that B&D and Redbridge had been targeted because they [areas] had low numbers of returns. She says that this in part may well be because; “we have been challenging Home Office constantly on the issue for a number of years and have most definitely persuaded all except one Gurdwara to not engage in outreach surgeries run by the Home Office.”
Ms Rita Chadha also asked that; “How can we get into the devil of dissecting their claim on numbers who went back each week?”
“Worth noting that the van is just one part of the campaign, others will include placing postcards in shop windows, targeting Money transfer shops like the Western Union, and Internet cafes,” says Ms Chadha in reference to the Home Office Enforcement Division, which uses vans, showing the message that reads: “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest. Text HOME to 78070 for free advice, and help with travel documents. We can help you return home voluntarily without fear of arrest or detention.” According to Ms Chadha, the boroughs of Barking&Dagenham and Redbridge where she is a member were not consulted before using such adverts in their area.
“ It is worth noting that neither local authority or borough police group knew anything about it, nor both boroughs are exceptionally angry (one Labour one Tory) and will be making further representations,” Ms Chadha pointed out the loopholes in the whole process.
Independently, this newspaper has also learnt that; many immigrants fear that money transfer shops, which include; Western Union; Moneygram and others could easily compromise their private information and addresses and pass them to the authority. This is also likely to reduce the sum remitted by people to their respective countries.
Ms Chadha who suggests that the foreigner should be handled humanely explained that: “Locally we have a plan of action in the two boroughs in which we work (Barking &D agenham and Redbridge) based on disruption, publishing and disseminating counter-narratives and advice sources, and challenging the technical and logistical proposals.”
“We are having a joint emergency tension-monitoring meeting within the next 24 hrs to discuss the issue further and to which Home Office Enforcement have been asked to and agreed to send senior representation,” she added.
Ms Chadha wonders why this is being handled in an aggressive manner; “The whole project is based on voluntary return and I know that Refugee Action have their own meeting with the Home Office on Friday about it.” She also requested for any advice.
Separately, speaking to this reporter, an immigration lawyer, noted that; “These are disastrous campaigns; the so-called ‘illegal’ immigrants and increasingly retributive highhanded methods have left many particularly Africans in a state of confusion.”
By Norman W Miwambo