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Stop UK immigration raids Glasgow politicians urge

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More than a week after UK immigration enforcement officers attempted to detain two Indian men in Glasgow on suspicion of immigration offences, politicians in the city have urged the Home Office to stop the practice of dawn raids. However, the government agency has vowed to deport the two men that were freed after protesters swarmed an immigration vehicle.


According to a report published by The Guardian, leading politicians in Glasgow have written to the Home Office urging officials to stop unannounced UK immigration raids. Meanwhile, the Scottish Refugee Council has called on Police Scotland to ‘push back’ against further operations.

The demands made by politicians and campaigners come following a standoff between protestors and immigration enforcement officers over the detainment of two men during the Muslim festival of Eid in the south of Glasgow.


Joint letter

The cross-party signatories of the joint letter sent to the Home Office include First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, and leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie.

An excerpt from the letter reads: “We are proud to say that, for more a decade, regardless of who has been in power in Scotland, there has been cross-party opposition to dawn raids.”

The politicians described Home Office dawn raids as ‘expensive, deeply harmful, and lacking in compassion’, while adding that more often than not they end up targeting people who are not a threat to public safety.

CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, Sabir Zazai, said: “We need Police Scotland to use the operation notification process to push back on the over-the-top and scary Home Office raids that have no place in Glasgow or Scotland.”


Immigration enforcement reserved to Westminster

Scotland has long lobbied for control over its own immigration policy, yet immigration enforcement remains reserved to Westminster. Police Scotland is usually warned in advance of an impending raid via an operation notification form, which allows them to consider the community impact of any planned action.

The two men detained by UK immigration officers, Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev, are Indian nationals who had lived in Glasgow for a number of years and have family connections in the city. They were eventually released from detainment after a crowd of local residents gathered to stop an immigration vehicle from leaving the scene.

The stand-off lasted nearly eight hours. Following the release of the men, Police Scotland issued a statement saying: “An operational decision was taken to free the men to protect the safety, public health and wellbeing of everyone involved.”


Kenmure Street 

Following the events that unfolded on Kenmure Street, campaigners have raised concerns over Police Scotland being notified and potentially called to the raids by the Home Office, and the need for them to use this notification process to advise against raids.

Senior Scottish government ministers have insisted that the police were forced into an ‘invidious position’ during the raid.

However, campaigners have demanded greater transparency around the protocols used, tighter limits on them and clearer communication between the Home Office, police and Scottish government so that UK immigration enforcement raids only occur when there is a high risk to public safety.

UK immigration minister, Chris Philp, described the raid as a ‘routine, lawful operation’ and stated that the police were aware of the operation in advance through an operational notification form and that the police had raised no concerns.


No responsibility over immigration enforcement

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland does not have responsibility for immigration enforcement. We will, however, respond to any incident reported to us to ensure public safety and minimise disruption to the local community.”

Policy officer for the Scottish refugee Council, Graham O’Neill, said that his organisation was considering whether to ask the police to enforce strict limits on the use of immigration enforcement in Scotland.

Mr O’Neill said: “Left to their own devices, the Home Office will deploy enforcement and leave local communities and services, including Police Scotland, to deal with an aftermath of damaged community relations and trust, all at a time of fragile COVID-19 public health recovery.”

“We ask Police Scotland to use its expertise, intelligence and position, in relation to the Home Office enforcement notification process, to advise for strict limits upon the use of immigration enforcement actions in the community in Glasgow and in Scotland, and especially never directly targeting those in asylum accommodation,” he added.

Meanwhile, legal representatives for Singh and Sehdev are progressing their cases. Jelina Berlow-Rahman, lawyer for Mr Singh, said: “Each case should be considered on its own facts and merits.” can help with Sponsor Licences

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