Finally, after much proof-reading and editing, we have a ‘know your rights’ card available in Urdu. Many thanks to those who helped with this.
Up to 65 people attended our public meeting on Thursday. Great to meet people already working on the same stuff and newer people alike. After a brief overview of raids and our rights, we broke up into groups and shared ideas of how we can fight them collectively. Here’s a snapshot of people’s thoughts:
Protest in the streets
Tower block alerts when raids happen, whistles blown – like in Glasgow where there were lots of raids in single blocks.
School protest when students are taken – e.g. Glasgow Girls, Save Yashika, Leonarda Dibrani case in France
Union support for workers
Twitter alerts for raids
Phone alert system for raids
Phone alert systems for local areas – markets etc. – need resistance to be local to be sustainable.
Working with more community groups, places of worship – getting messages out in different languages.
Someone to hack Home Office sites…
Posters at bus stops
‘Know your rights’ stickers
Map immigration raids
Shopkeepers – put up withdrawal of consent forms in in windows
Spread success stories
Be one step ahead of home office – where they go & try and snatch people, we need to already have been there – talked to people
Help people develop CONFIDENCE in the face of raids – as/more important than legal knowledge (law frequently abused by Immigration Enforcement anyway)
Posters saying Immigration Enforcement not welcome
By The No
As you might know, Clapton Football Club, eight leagues below Premier League neighbours, West Ham United, has recently become the adopted home to a fast-growing group of fans who are disillusioned with the professional game and want to put their antiracist, anticapitalist, community-centric politics into action.
Clapton play their home games in Forest Gate, and one Saturday a few weeks ago a handful of us sought to demonstrate our support for people who live and work near our ground who are increasingly being targeted by the government’s racist anti-immigrant agenda.
The Home Office’s Operation Skybreaker – a name as naff as its aims are sinister – has already seen gangs of immigration officers engaging withbusinesses in Newham (amongst other boroughs) whose employees or customers might be undocumented.
And by engaging with we should be clear we mean harassing, intimidating, misinforming, entering without express permission, and rinsing information from people by whatever snide means they can.
These visits are basically pre-raids, and are principally about enabling the immigration enforcement to mess up more and more people’s lives.
In response to Skybreaker invasions, the ever-awesome London Black Revs already staged a well-received action at Queen Street market in nearby Upton Park, offering local people Anti Raids Network cards with information about their rights. Our plan was to try and do a our bit on our home patch.
We met at a local café for a bit of training from a Clapton-supporting member of Newham Monitoring Project before heading out in pairs with cards in English, Bengali, Punjabi, Arabic and a few other languages.
We had prepared ourselves for the possibility of shop and café owners being too busy to entertain us or unsure what to make of a bunch of (albeit friendly) football fans. After all, most of us were wearing our Clapton scarves ahead of our local derby with Barking later that day (0-0, in case you wondered).
However the response we received was not only welcoming, but in some cases revelatory.
We spoke to the owners of two adjoining convenience shops at the bottom of Upton Lane one of whom we had heard had already given Home Office Robocops their marching orders when they’d tried their charm offensive (stress on the offensive) recently.
The shopkeepers clearly knew they were allowed to ask these thugs to leave their premises if they didn’t have a warrant, but they were receptive to the idea of handing out our cards so their customers know their rights as well.
Others, though, were less aware of their rights. Another shopkeeper told us about the form the police and immigration officials made him sign, saying he gave permission for them to be in his shop (something we’d touched on in the training, and which no one is under any obligation to sign).
Another reported police demanding access to the rented-out flat upstairs in relation to an unspecified incident 15 years ago. Why? Checking for who might be living there? As the man said, God knows what they were looking for.”
There was the white shop owner who was emphatic in his view that he was treated with infinitely more respect by the uniformed bullies than most of the neighbouring businesses.
And the café owner who said he’d not only take cards, but he’d happily put a poster in his window.
And the NHS health centre staff who accepted the cards without hesitation as necessary information for local patients.
And the travel agency who invited us to sit down before telling us in detail about when their tiny shop was visited by seven or eight tooled-up immigration officers demanding to see who they employed (without warrants), advising them they risked arrest if they did not share their ID (untrue) or answer their questions (ditto).
I had to leave this visit early: the combination of the abuse they depicted and the calm, resigned way these men spoke about their treatment just floored me.
I am pretty sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say the couple of hours we spent talking to these good people made a massive impression on me. This is happening now, and it only promises to intensify as the route to political power becomes more about how the government is seen to crush those who it deems are not welcome in our communities.
As Clapton fans and, for the most part, new members of this community, we intend to offer our neighbours our solidarity.
We’ll be back doing the rounds before our Saturday home games in November, and it would be great if others came and joined us. More details on the Anti Raids blog here.
Did you know…?
- You don’t have to sign papers letting immigration officers into your home or shop.
- During a raid, you don’t have to answer any questions about your immigration status when immigration officers or the police ask you.
- You are legally entitled to leave if you haven’t been arrested.
Tower Hamlets is one of the London boroughs currently being targeted by ‘Operation Skybreaker’, a 5-month plan by the Home Office to stop illegal working. We believe immigration raids are racist & we can fight them if we work together.
To find out more about your legal rights & talk about what we can do to defend our communities against immigration raids and arrests, come to our public meeting on November 13th, 6-8pm at the Praxis Centre, Pott St, Bethnal Green E2 0EF.
Organised by the Anti Raids Network & Right to Remain.
Major European Joint Operation against ‘illegal’ migration – 13 – 26th October
The latest European Joint Operation to intimidate, detain and deport migrants will take place this October, with Schengen member states, Frontex and Europol working together under the suitably fascistic operation name Mos Maiorum.
According to a document published by Statewatch, this operation will:
‘- apprehend irregular migrants and gather relevant information for intelligence and
- identify, prosecute and disrupt organized crime groups;
- give a clear and updated situation picture concerning the operational area, modus operandi, main trends and possible rapid changes in these aspects;
- consolidate joint measures to achieve an impact on illegal immigration (border checks and
border surveillance activities);
- carry out (based on the outcomes of the risk analysis), control along the main routes of illegal immigration followed by illegal migrant networks (within the Schengen Area and at the external borders);
- collect and analyse information related also to the so called secondary movement.’
As such, we can expect increased surveillance and arrests in these two weeks, which will also be the basis for information gathering that will lead to further operations of this nature.
The supposed aim of ‘preventing organised crime’ is merely a smokescreen. The proliferation of smuggling networks is the result of a militarised border regime.
We urge people to get the word out about Mos Maiorum and to be aware of the operation when travelling in this time.
We are supporting a number of anti raids initiatives over the next couple of months – have a look at our listings and come along to help spread & localise the resistance to immigration raids.
On 13th November, the Anti Raids Network will host a public meeting with Right to Remain on raids in Tower Hamlets. We hope to provide a space for people to come together and share experiences, learn more about their rights, and discuss strategies for grassroots resistance to these oppressive state policies.
Operation Skybreaker is a 5-month plan by the Home Office in parts of Tower Hamlets, Brent, Ealing, Newham and Greenwich to work with businesses and community groups to stop ‘illegal’ immigration. The first part is soft – they are asking businesses if they can come in and check their records, sometimes promising not to arrest people. But do not be fooled by these ‘friendly tactics’ – the second part of Operation Skybreaker will involve carrying out raids in these areas, no doubt helped in this by the information they find in stage one. They will work with HMRC and other agencies on this.
No Co-operation with Immigration Officers
- Legally, you do not have to sign consent forms letting them come in.
- Immigration officers often ask people’s permission to come in because they do not actually have evidence that you are committing an offence, which they need to get a warrant.
- Refusing immigration officers entry to your home or business is not evidence of a crime.
- Letting them in gives them access to information they could use to raid your home or business later on. For example, it could give them information they need to get a warrant.
- Working with immigration officers only gives them more power. The only way to stop these raids is to resist together and show support & solidarity with people being targeted.
During our outreach, we have found that a lot of people have been signing consent forms. However, when we’ve told people that there is no obligation to sign, many said that they were unaware that it was voluntary, while others said “you can’t do anything to stop them – they do whatever they want”. In practice of course, it is very hard to refuse – regardless of whether this is your legal right. Only with strong and persistent collective resistance and non-cooperation do we stand a chance of really fighting back and keeping immigration officers out of our neighbourhoods.
Find out more
We are having a public meeting for people living and working in Tower Hamlets on November 13th, 6-8pm at the Praxis Centre, Pott Street, Bethnal Green, E2 0EF. You are invited to come and find out more about your rights and & discuss what we can do to stop these immigration raids.
The Anti Raids Network invites you and your groups, friends, and family to join us for a noise demonstration outside Holloway HMP, London (N7 0NU) Friday 27th June, 7pm
No More Immigration Detention – Freedom for all Migrants
The Anti Raids Network calls a demonstration outside Holloway prison to demand an end of the detention and criminalisation of migrants. In the UK, the state uses prisons as well as detention centres to detain an increasing number of migrants. The demonstration is outside Holloway HMP, a women’s prison, to highlight the injustices which migrant women and the poor are subjected to a system which criminalises survival, poverty and immigration status. Many imprisoned are survivors of sexual abuse and torture; pregnant women and children are also detained for months, sometimes years, creating severe physical and mental health issues. Mothers are often separated from their children in detention. There are also many known cases of racist, physical and sexual abuse by guards in detention centres.
When around 70 women in Yarl’s Wood detention centre went on hunger strike in 2010 to demand better conditions for migrants and an end to detentions, their protests were met with severe repression, and four of the women were transferred to prison, two of them to Holloway HMP. They were held without charge for over a year. Detention is inhumane and murderous.
On the 30th of March 2014, Christine Case, a national of Jamaica aged 40, died in Yarl’s Wood detention centre of a heart attack, when her screams were unattended by guards. Since 2007 there has been 1425 recorded attempted suicides across the UK detention estate. Migrant women are also at the mercy of the murderous police force. We remember Joy Gardner, murdered by police and immigration officers in her home in 1993 for overstaying her visa.
We will make noise to show solidarity with and demand freedom for our sisters in prison.
Bring pots, pans, drums, banners or just yourself.
See you there,
The Anti Raids Network
As part of our events series this month:
Anti Raids workshop at Spark Space London, tomorrow Monday 16th June.
2.30pm – 6pm
St Peter’s Community Hall, 56 Warner Place, London, E2 7DA
Immigration raids are happening every day in London, targeting people on the street, in their workplaces, and in their homes; yet they are also increasingly being met with resistance. This workshop will give an overview of immigration raids and checks,deliver practical ideas on what we can do when confronted with a raid, and provide a space to discuss strategies for building a culture of resistance to immigration controls.
Details of post-election crackdown on undocumented workers leaked to migrant rights campaigners
Activists across Britain are alerting hundreds of workplaces that appear on a Home Office hit list to prepare for an imminent immigration raid.
‘Operation Centurion’ involves a fortnight of high-profile arrests of undocumented workers, similar to the Go Home Van débâcle in July 2013.
The leaked document refers to raids on car-washes in the East Midlands being “prepped for Centurion fortnight”.
The Home Office may now have to abandon this plan because the majority of workers on the target list are being tipped off, as revealed on Channel 4 News tonight.
The Anti Raids Network has seen 225 items of operational intelligence, in what is possibly the largest Home Office leak in recent years.
The document reveals stereotyping and racial profiling by Immigration Officers behind the raids.
One target is to “locate NGA [Nigerian] immigration offenders working as security guards in Sussex.”
Another involves a “multi agency operation aimed at Vietnamese nail bars in the Manchester area”.
Phone stalls in Northern Ireland “appear to have foreign nationals working on them – some of which don’t speak fantastic English”, according to the ‘intelligence’ reports.
Although the Home Office has denied claims that it conducts ‘fishing’ operations, the document refers to “speculative intel visits” to farms in the North East
The Home Office’s own intelligence even undermines the argument that illegal working is a significant problem.
For instance, the Home Office says it has checked over 900 staff files from betting shops across South London, “and it is conservatively anticipated there will be at least 5 offenders across the sites”.
The rate of illegal working in that case is less than 1% of the workforce.
The Karamsar Gurdwara on Ilford High Street is also listed as a target. The Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London said on twitter that Immigration Officers arrested 6 people on Ilford High Street at 8.30 this morning in “random checks targeting anyone with a turban”.
A spokesperson from the Anti Raids Network said:
“Are Ukip already controlling the UK Border Agency? Questions need to be asked about the timing of this operation just after the elections. This document exposes the cynical and racist agenda behind Home Office immigration raids.”