‘Expand your range of targets’, says chief inspector in review of illegal working raids


‘How the Home Office Tackles Illegal Working’ was published on 17th December by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), David Bolt. ICIBI reports generally provide useful insight into the murky world of immigration enforcement.

Here are some of the report’s main findings and criticisms:

  • Criticism was leveled at the disproportionate number of raids targeting takeaways and restaurants, due to the fact that most of the ‘intelligence’ consisted of ‘low-level allegations made by members of the public, which were lacking in detail and the reliability of which was difficult to assess.’ It said that ‘other business sectors and possibly other nationalities had been neglected by comparison.’ The Home Office responded that it was trying to ‘diversify’ its range of targets through its current project, ‘Operation Magnify’. They list care, cleaning and construction as possible sites of increased immigration enforcement in the near future.
  • Bolt and his team show themselves to be big fans of the softly-softly tactics employed in ‘Operation Skybreaker’, mostly on grounds of cost effectiveness. Skybreaker was a six-month operation running from July-Dec 2014, which saw immigration officers visit businesses ‘consensually’ with a view to gathering intelligence, getting employers involved in the web of immigration control and reporting, and trying to persuade people to leave ‘voluntarily’ (ie, with financial incentives). Obvious benefits of Skybreaker lay in its friendly veneer and the fact that these visits essentially acted as reccies, allowing officers to gather information necessary to conduct full blown raids later on. Our suspicion about this was confirmed by the report. Bolt calls for the extension of Skybreaker tactics, so we can expect more of this in the year to come.
  • The report details various unlawful practices by Immigration Enforcement. None of these come as any surprise given the experiences we hear from people affected by raids. The allegations of unlawful conduct include:

– coercive tactics used to question whole groups people (who are meant to be questioned ‘consensually’, and where specific individuals are suspected of being immigration offenders);

– unlawful pursuits off the premises, which the Home Office acknowledged it had done, but said it was ‘reviewing’ its pursuit policy anyway. Yep, when you’re accused of acting illegally, just change the law;

– ‘consent’ to enter a property obtained by the occupier through ‘verbal authority’ rather than written agreement. In its response, the Home Office also said that it was completely reviewing its enforcement guidance, and expected to complete this task by March 2016.

Other interesting info revealed in the report

So-called AD letters (Home Office Assistant Director internal authorisation) now appear to be a much less common means of obtaining entry to businesses. This comes after a telling-off by ICIBI in a previous report. Officers are currently relying primarily on the ‘consent’ of the occupier to gain entry (in well over 50% of cases), or on magistrates’ warrants. Consent is required in writing but evidence showed IE were relying on ‘verbal authority’.

The report found that from 2009-2014, on average, 68% of raids for illegal working result in no illegal workers being found. In these same raids, 50% of arrestees ended up being deported.

Our position

We do not want to see a reformed system of immigration enforcement; we want to see its end. This can only be achieved by building a culture of refusal to collaborate and cooperate with Immigration Enforcement, and of active solidarity with those being arrested when raids are taking place.

Raids being disrupted every week, say Immigration Services Union

On 27th September, BBC’s File on 4 produced an episode on illegal working called ‘Working in the Shadows’. The programme also discussed enforcement operations and the resistance they have been met with. Simon Cox interviews a representative from the Immigration Services Union to find out more about the scale of opposition to these raids. Her response suggests there are acts of unreported rebellion, solidarity and protest now occurring on a regular basis across the capital and possibly beyond. What follows is taken from the programme’s transcript.

COX: [… ]The Home Office say only a handful of operations have been disrupted, but Lucy Moreton from the Immigration Services Union says it’s happening a lot more often than that.

MORETON: Missiles have been thrown – eggs most predominantly, but rocks. Vans get blocked in; we’ve had vans with the tyres slashed. We’ve had instances  where officers have had to retreat, as I said, inside commercial premises and wait to be rescued.

COX: Those anti raids groups that you talk about, how  effective are they at disrupting action by immigration enforcement?

MORETON: That depends on who you talk to. Senior managers within immigration enforcement will tell us that only a very small number of high profile operations have been successfully disrupted. What my members are telling me is that immigration enforcement jobs are disrupted to a greater or lesser extent pretty much every week.

Local outreach in Deptford: a view from the High Street

Submitted by Deptford Anti Raids:

In response to a spate of multiagency raids on or near Deptford High street, some of us locals decided to form a Deptford anti raids group to build awareness and resistance in the area. We have been out on the High Street twice a week over the past month, running a stall with multilingual ‘know your rights’ info and handing out leaflets & info to passersby, shopkeepers and stall holders. We also have info on stop & search and gentrification, as these issues are all closely interlinked.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, including some fruitful conversations with a few people who were initially less supportive, often due to issues with people working illegally and not paying tax. Their anger generally turned away from undocumented migrants and towards government and big corporations when it was pointed out that as much as £12bn a year is thought to be owed in corporation tax each year. In this incredibly hostile climate, we need to not be afraid to have these conversations and to challenge people’s assumptions around migration – in fact, it’s vital that we do.

We will continue to go out on the High Street twice a week for the foreseeable future and encourage others to start similar initiatives in their area.

A selection of the cards on the stall

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Why we support the Shadwell raid-resisters: a response to the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail wrote a piece about the direct action taken by people in Shadwell last Wednesday with a usual mixture of fear-mongering and feigned indignation. Here is our response.

The Daily Heil's 'Muslim gang' piece
The Daily Heil’s ‘Muslim gang’ piece

We want to make it clear that we unequivocally support those who took action to stop an immigration raid in Shadwell on 22nd July. Immigration raids – sometimes accompanied by sensationalist TV crews – are a cynical and aggressive show of force by the Home Office, and it should come as no surprise that people are fighting back. A few damaged tyres and egged windscreens are nothing compared to the violence that takes place every day when people are snatched from their loved ones, indefinitely detained, and forcibly expelled from the country.

The gutter press and politicians will always seek to isolate those who resist state repression by painting them as a threat. The Daily Mail’s racist headline about ‘Muslim Gangs’ is an attempt to capitalise on anti-Muslim sentiment and the reclassification of any criticism of the British state and so-called ‘British values’ as ‘extremism’.

In reality, immigration raids have been challenged by people from many different backgrounds. The resistance to the raid on East Street market a few weeks ago and this most recent challenge joins many other acts of resistance, non-cooperation and solidarity that happen all the time but rarely make headlines. The reference to a ‘Muslim gang’ in the headline of yesterday’s Daily Mail article is irrelevant, spurious (see ‘What is a Gang?) and deeply racist. The only way we can counter these targeted attacks designed to intimidate and divide us is by standing side by side with those who find the courage to take action.

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Immigration raid sabotaged in Shadwell; officers egged

Reposted from Rabble LDN

Reports are circulating of an attempted immigration raid being sabotaged by Shadwell locals on Wednesday (22 July). 16 tyres were let down and officers were egged in an action reminiscent of the resistance in Walworth last month. To make matters worse for the immigration cops, they had apparently been accompanied by media in a bid to do a spectacular “tough on immigration” stunt. The cops were called, and sadly two people were arrested in the incident.

One commenter said: “While they were busy raiding Chapman Street, their tyres got slashed, valves taken and cars scratched. The local garage refused to sell them tyres or help them. To top it all off they got egged from the local tower block and a few landed direct on their heads. Welcome to Shadwell.”


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Immigration raid meets fierce resistance at East Street Market

This article is from Rabble.org.uk and refers to a raid carried out yesterday (21st June) in Walworth.

Home Office immigration enforcement have been targeting the East Street market in Walworth, London SE17, all week, with no less than five raids over previous days. Today they came again at 5PM and snatched one man from a fish shop, presumably accused of working without legal documents.

But this time, things were not going to go so easy for the thugs in blue. After call-outs went out through the local grapevine and also on social media, people from the area including the next door Aylesbury Estate rushed down to the scene. The Home Office snatch van was blockaded and penned in on a side street off the market. The bullies retreated inside the van with their prisoner while it was surrounded by people’s bodies and by makeshift barricades, the tires were let down, and it was pelted with rotten fruit and eggs from the market.

The Home Office thugs called in police reinforcements. They arrived with six cars of cops, plus dog vans and plainclothes cops, and a helicopter circling overhead, as the street was cordoned off. However, the crowd kept on growing as more people from the estate and nearby streets joined in, local teenagers called up their mates, others arrived seeing it on social media.

The stand off continued for over an hour, the local police clueless about what to do next. Then three vans of TSG riot cops arrived, tooled up in full body armour. The TSG pushed through, escorting the Home Office van limping out on deflated tires. They came under sustained attack as new barricades of street furniture kept getting thrown up to stop their progress and hails of rocks, bottles, road cones, etc., kept them at bay. At least one TSG cop was knocked to the floor, a riot van windscreen and other windows broken.

In the end, they managed to get their prisoner out, and also took one more arrested from the resisters. After the immigration van had got out the crowd kept blocking the TSG vans with commercial rubbish bins and other barriers to continue the fighting. Eventually, visibly shaken by the angry mob,the TSG managed to escape. After giving them a rowdy send-off, the crowd danced to a mobile sound system.

This was concerted angry action which brought together local teenagers, Aylesbury Estate residents, anarchists, and whoever was in the street and not going to take this shit lying down. If we could meet more raids with resistance like this it would seriously screw up the system of repression. This is the response we want to be growing on our streets, every day of the week.


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Vietnamese ‘know your rights’ info

[This is a translation of this information].


Nếu bạn bị cán bộ cơ quan di trú hoặc cảnh sát đột nhiên chặn hỏi về tình trạng di trú của bản thân:

– Bạn KHÔNG phải trả lời bất cứ câu hỏi nào của họ.
– Bạn KHÔNG phải khai báo với họ tên hay địa chỉ của mình.
– Nói với họ rằng bạn không muốn tiếp chuyện họ.
– Giữ thái độ lịch sự và tự tin.
– Bạn có quyền chấm dứt tương tác và bước đi tiếp.

Họ không được phép quyết định chặn và tra hỏi bạn dựa trên chủng tộc của bạn. Họ chỉ có quyền chặn hỏi bạn với lý do chính đáng. Nếu họ chặn hỏi bạn dựa trên vẻ bề ngoài của bạn hay ngôn ngữ bạn sử dụng, hãy nói với họ:

“I’m busy” (“Tôi đang bận”), “This is racist” (“Đây là hành động phân biệt chủng tộc”), “I will make a complaint” (“Tôi sẽ thưa lên cơ quan chức trách”).

Nếu bạn bị bắt giữ, hãy liên lạc với cơ quan hỗ trợ tại ngoại di trú – Bail for Immigration Detainees (hoạt động độc lập) – theo số điện thoại: 020 7247 3590.

www.network23.org/antiraids @antiraids FB: Anti Raids Network

Download this here as cards for printing at home (6 per A4 page)

Grassroots resistance to immigration raids in Peckham

Backed into a butcher's shop
A lovely site: Immigration Enforcement backed into a butcher’s shop

Passers-by in Peckham surrounded and challenged immigration officers earlier this month as they attempted to carry out checks on people at local shops. It is not clear exactly how the events unfolded and there are contradictory reports about whether anyone was actually detained during the operation, but what is evident is that when people step up and show each other solidarity, we can make immigration checks and raids a lot more difficult.

The following video of the incident offers a rare glimpse of the beautiful moment when often-silenced voices on the ‘debate’ on immigration come together in a message loud and clear for those in power: enough of your populist racist bullshit, enough of your demagoguery, enough of your divide-and-rule tactics — we live and work side by side one another, and we will fight for each other.

As the government promises to come down yet harder on working class migrants, we hope to see more and more popular and direct resistance to these raids, just as in Southall in 2013 and London’s West End last year.

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