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We have moved to a new website. For current news and updates visit www.antiraids.net
Please update your links!
Written by some people active in the Anti Raids stall in Deptford
Despite regular resistance to Immigration Enforcement on Deptford High Street over the past couple of years, the raids have continued. Inevitably, officers have changed their tactics – acting more quickly, coming in plain clothes, or using unmarked vehicles so as not to attract attention – yet the raids went on. It seems that although opposition is having an impact, there would need to be a larger response on the scale seen in Peckham or on East Street Market to make the message crystal clear – that Immigration Enforcement are not welcome in our area.
Fed up with continued assaults on the community, 25 shopkeepers from the High St and several people active in the local Anti Raids group recently met up to discuss greater coordination and communication.
After some introductions, people shared their experiences of being raided. What was most common was the brutality, harassment and blatant abuse of power exercised by Immigration Officers. Two testimonies by British citizens of Asian origin explain how they had been working on the high street for decades and yet still get targeted.
Yet despite this, people have clearly fought back. Anecdotes were shared, with one local describing how they once shouted down the High Street to alert people of their presence, forcing the officers to leave Deptford furious that they hadn’t managed to snatch anyone.
Anti Raids provided some legal information and practical tips on what could be done when officers eek entry to shops. Unless they have the person’s consent to enter, come with a warrant, or have a letter from a Home Office assistant director, they cannot legally enter business for a standard immigration raid. During the most recent raids, the Home Office entered premises only to make the people they arrested sign retrospective consent for entry. In short, they should not be allowed entry without the paperwork.
We offered to link people up with solicitors. The abuse of power exercised by Immigration Officers, such as getting consent under duress, is also of interest to barristers committed to bringing claims against Immigration Officers. This will require witness statements and benefit from video recordings.
However, we all agreed on the limitations of simply knowing your rights, given the common disregard for procedures and the law in general exercised by officers. We also emphasised that it was ultimately the shopkeepers and workers – those being directly hit by these raids – who could defend themselves, and advised against looking to local politicians or groups like us to lead on this.
Other solidarity strategies were discussed, but these are only possible if people gain confidence, which will only happen when they support one another. We agreed to continue building our relationships and improve our communication. In the words of local worker, “No-one wants to be the first voice, but we all need to be out there and be the first voice!”.
This meeting didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s taken 2 years of local outreach, of weekly stalls on Deptford High Street, of frequent shop-to-shop leafleting and chats to start building relationships and getting to know people. Everyone left on a high. It was a beautiful feeling to meet on the street with people from such diverse backgrounds, in an open discussion with no leaders, and leaving with a commitment to stand up for each other when a place gets attacked.
No Pasaran! Until the last Immigration Enforcement goons are kicked out of Deptford!
(For tips on what to do if you see an immigration raid, see here)
We are a loose network and believe that resistance best comes from the grassroots. We also think that the most effective resistance to immigration raids can take place locally, as we usually don’t know in advance where raids will take place. We’re not looking to “bring people in” to us, to become another mass organisation. Instead we’d like to see lots of autonomous groups forming and feeling empowered and confident to take action themselves. We aim to provide materials, advice and information to support this.
There are currently an average 12 of immigration raids per day across London, leading to unknown number of individuals being snatched from their homes or places of work and bundled off to detention centres where they await deportation. Raids, however, can be made unworkable through combined efforts and different tactics. Here we list possible initiatives and ideas based around different interests or skillsets which we would love to see people taking on and developing.
Many of these things are already happening – we just need a lot more of them! Others are long-running ideas that have yet to come to fruition. Feel free to get in touch if you would like any advice or information to support your initiative.
We feel it’s essential to develop communications tools to support resistance among people who live or work in areas affected by raids. To this end, you could:
– Develop a small-scale secure communications infrastructure to share alerts (neighbourhood, local businesses, network of friends, a market, a targeted workplace). This could be an instant messaging group, or text alert system, or something else altogether.
– If you’re technically-savvy, why not look into developing an app for people to share raids alerts securely? Some have already been trialed in various countries – we can send you links to these if you get in touch.
IN THE WORKPLACE
If you think that your workplace is at any risk of being targeted by Immigration Enforcement – either looking for staff, service users, clients, or customers – it can be a critical area within which to organise. Discuss the issue with colleagues you trust and come up with a plan.
Depending very much on the nature of the workplace, this could be:
– Agreeing a response plan in the event of a raid, for example, some colleagues helping others leave the premises while others stall at the door.
– Make sure your colleagues know that they can refuse entry to immigration officers, as officers rely heavily on consent alone to raid a property. If they’re in possession of a warrant or an Assistant Director’s letter, they can force entry. Be aware of the risk of “arrests by appointment“, particularly if you and your colleagues have a bad relationship with your employer, or if you’re in the middle of an industrial dispute.
– You may want to organise your own messaging group, particularly if you work in a large-scale or mobile work place, or if the work is spread across different sites (such as a courier company).
– You might want to present your bosses with a statement (signed by as many workers as possible), setting out your position on non-collaboration. This might be that you collectively refuse to carry out a specific task being asked of you (such as to check or report the migration status of a person), or that you simply won’t participate in any functions of immigration control.
– If you work in administration and data entry for sectors being pushed into collaborating with the Home Office, you could ‘forget’ to enter certain data, such as addresses, or in the case of GP surgeries, use the practice address instead. See the Doctors of the World Toolkit for more on this.
– If you work in the NHS, check out Doctors of the World’s ‘Safe Surgeries Toolkit’ for ideas on what you can do to prevent information being handed over to Immigration Enforcement, and get involved in the Docs Not Cops campaign.
– If you’re a student, parent, teacher or lecturer, have a look at the Schools Against Borders for Children campaign against the use of the Schools Census for immigration purposes, and check out Unis Resist Border Controls.
– We encourage you to get in contact with us via Twitter when you see a raid happening (@antiraids, copy in @LCAPSV), so that we can spread the word. If you don’t have Twitter, consider calling someone who does and ask them to message us. Always include the exact time and location that you spotted the raid.
– If you work for or were recently employed by the Home Office, or you work(ed) for another agency that is required to collaborate with Immigration Enforcement, we would love to hear from you. All communications will be kept confidential, and you can communicate with us securely using our PGP key if you prefer.
– If you know anyone or any businesses directly at risk of being raided, send them our know your rights information.
– If you know anyone working in a sector being brought into the fold of immigration control (NHS, schools, universities, homelessness charities), send them information relevant to those areas (links above). Similarly, if you are active in resisting the extension of controls into these areas and have information on developments that we could share, please get in touch.
– If you feel confident in giving workshops to groups at risk of raids, involving role plays and basic ‘know your rights information’, you can use the following slideshow as a guide (notes included). Users are obviously encouraged to vary the content depending on the workshop participants.
GRAPHICS & TEXTS
Images are essential! Clear images help communication across barriers of languages and literacy. We have found that while some stall visitors may not want to pick up a wordy leaflet, they’ll happily take an informative poster they can stick on their toilet door. We will share most posters and graphics submitted to us on the site (if in doubt please get in touch first).
– Create & share images, infographics, posters, or stickers against snitching and collaboration with immigration control, encouraging migrant solidarity, and resistance to immigration raids.
– Write up your experience of challenging immigration enforcement so that we can add it to our ‘Confronting the Raids’ series to inspire others.
– Get out into the streets: print out and put up posters (flyposting guide here), stickers, graffiti, stencils etc. Note that some of these things could constitute a minor offence, so be careful. See here for some posters you can download and print.
If you have skills in a language spoken by those affected by raids (see the languages our materials already translated on our side for a guide), then you might be particularly well placed to do street-based outreach, workshops and translations. We welcome help in translating and proof-reading the ‘know your rights’ cards into other languages, and are still looking for translators for the Igbo and Tigrinya versions. We are also looking for proof readers for the Yoruba version. Get in touch if you are interested in translating information or posters, as some translations might be more pressing than others.
If you have access to cheap printing so that we can print leaflets, pamphlets, or A3 colour posters, please let us know.
We’re always looking for input from lawyers who are familiar with the powers of immigration officers and the intersections between immigration and public law. Please get in touch if you’d like to help us develop more materials. Note that we consult with multiple legal heads before we publish anything.
Whether it’s running a regular stall, leafleting in the street or going round from shop to shop, you can use any of our materials to do so, or develop your own. Get in touch if you would like any of our ‘know your rights’ cards (shown in the pic above) or leaflets.
Over the past couple of years, groups have held weekly stalls in Deptford, Peckham, Haringey and Whitechapel. If you are interested in starting a local stall your own stall or group, we recommend that you check out our principles, as we promote and support groups that agree with these principles. So, for example, we do not promote party-political or other hierarchical groups. If you are still interested after having read this, then the best thing to do is probably to visit your nearest active anti raids stall, chat to people there for advice, and have a go at giving out materials. The following stall details are correct at the time of writing (update: 28/5/17):
We’ll publish a brief guide we made for running a stall here shortly.
Fight back against raids when you see them happening. See here for ideas on how.
We don’t just have to wait for ‘racist vans’ to enter our neighbourhoods, we can also follow them when we see them on the move. Have a look at where your nearest enforcement base is and consider organising protests there.
We encourage you to get in touch before you start working on some of the above projects, as we have been actively working on many of the areas outlined above and are aware of the practicalities involved.
Submitted anonymously – 8th May 2017
Today a group of people on bicycles encircled and tailed an immigration arrest van through the streets of central London as it was on its way to carry out a raid.
This was done to alert people to the existence of these vans and their daily incursions into our neighbourhoods. It was also done to disrupt the smooth running of immigration enforcement; a machine that rounds people up, detains them indefinitely, and expels them from the country to face unknown dangers.
These raids are the point at which the whole immigration regime is at its weakest. Remember that in order to carry out raids they must come into our neighbourhoods, drive down our streets, and try to force their way into businesses and homes. It is also critical to intervene in these moments before someone is handcuffed and in the back of a van. Its also easier to stop a raid which would result in another immigration prisoner than it is to support the same person in detention or fight for their release through the courts.
Immigration officers will not carry out a raid when they know that people are following them. Previous cases have shown that even one person filming and confronting them is at times sufficient to make them give up and leave. They remember and fear a repeat of when they have been stopped by people in the communities they’ve invaded and needed rescuing from by the police.
This action is easy for many people to do. The vans are active around London at all times of day. If you see a snatch van, follow it, film the officers when they get out and show them and the people they are targeting that you won’t just let it happen in your community. You do not need to be many, and you’d be surprised at the number of friends you’ll make when people see immigration enforcement being resisted in the area.
Incidentally, showing how ubiquitous these raids are, another group reportedly confronted two Immigration Enforcement vans that they happened to spot driving down the streets in Whitechapel later the same afternoon. The officers responded aggressively, but this only attracted more attention to their presence and more support from local people for the group challenging the officers.
Direct action can stop these raids!
[Note that these vans, as well as the scumbags riding in them, are increasingly equipped with cameras]
New poster with ideas on things we can do to resist immigration raids. Produced by Nic Vas from Draw the Line.
This is the third in our series of first-hand accounts by individuals who’ve taken action after spotting an immigration arrest van, also sometimes known as a #racistvan. See here for stories 1 and 2. We think that it’s important that people anonymously share their accounts to inspire & give others courage to challenge immigration raids when they see them happening.
Submitted by anon. on 6/2/17.
I was already running late for a meeting. But then I saw the van: ‘Immigration Enforcement.’ Parked on a residential side street, unaccompanied, I had heard enough about raids to know that one was probably in progress, and that if I waited, a human may be bundled out into that van without ever having known some fundamental rights that could allow them to continue living their life in this country.
So I began waiting. I called to say I’d be late for the meeting, I sent some texts and Tweets out to see if others could join me and I brushed up on the bust card info on the Anti Raids Network site, to make sure I knew what to say and do. The info was relatively simple: film the officers, not those being detained; make sure those being detained know that they have no legal requirement to answer questions and can walk away; pass support phone numbers on to the individual if possible, should they be taken into custody.
A friend arrived after about an hour. There’d still been no action, beyond a few conversations with folks who had clearly also clocked the van with suspicion. One wanted to be able to support and lived nearby. We added each other on Facebook. Once it was two of us, another conversation kicked-off. Another person who said they wanted to help stop these things from happening. We traded numbers.
Shortly after, two Home Office officers came down the street, unaccompanied. They made a comment about us standing there, to see if we were taking a selfie with their van and then got in.
We were both on bikes and decided to follow them. They clearly hadn’t managed to nab anyone in this stop, but we thought they might be heading off to try elsewhere. So we stayed as close as we could. They initially did a loop around on a bunch of side streets, gaging whether we were indeed following them. We made clear that we were, sticking close, making regular eye contact at red lights.
London traffic on a weekday morning worked to our advantage. We nearly lost them a couple of times, but there were enough red lights and gridlock for us to stay close. When they got to Liverpool Street, traffic was at a standstill. I spent an hour tweeting and messaging people and photographing the officers in the vehicle, to at least make sure they knew they were still being watched. Eventually, they peeled off the main road and pulled into the parking lot of Home Office, Beckett House, alongside a dozen other racist vans. I took one last close-up of them as they pulled in, and then headed off.
Were they going to hit up another raid spot but decided to head back to base because they didn’t like the idea of having their dirty work observed? Maybe. Were they simply heading back to the office for their next assignment and we provided an unexpected escort along the way between N15 and SE1? Quite possibly. It is impossible to know if we directly affected their plans in any way that morning.
At the very least though, we removed a bit of their sense of impunity. Too often raids happen because there is no one around to hold the officials to account. The more they feel they are under the microscope when they go out to ruin people’s lives, the more they will have to think about doing so. A few words at the right moment informing someone of their rights, might prevent abuses of the law and might scupper an arrest. The absence of those words too often means someone left sitting in a detention centre, en route back to a country they have tried their best to leave behind.
When the law is unaccountable, it is up to all of us to create accountability ourselves where we can. Any moment when you see a racist van, is a moment you can be a part of that. It might make a fundamental difference in someone’s life, but at the very least it will make those carrying out these forms of state violence a little more aware that they are not free to destroy people’s lives without consequence.
Imagine what would happen if these bullies weren’t able to go out on a raid without being swarmed by observers and those willing to directly intervene in their violence? We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we can make their work impossible, wherever we come across them and that in fact, doing so is all of our responsibility.
Following the revelation that NHS Digital handed over an incredible 8,000+ patients’ records to Immigration Enforcement last year, it is clear that state attempts to create an even more ‘hostile environment’ for undocumented migrants in Britain need to be urgently stopped in their tracks by individual and collective acts of courage and defiance.
It is despicable that potentially thousands unwell and vulnerable people sought medical help, and that this was then used against them and their families for the purposes of Immigration Enforcement. How many dawn raids have resulted from this vile marriage of NHS Digital and Immigration Enforcement? How many people ripped apart from friends and families, detained and deported? How many NHS staff entered patients details into their computer systems oblivious to the fact that senior management were sharing this with the Home Office?
We need to get organised against this institutionalised racism and increasing social control — and fast. As as first step, one person managed to get his local GP surgery to pledge not to check anyone’s immigration status. Here is his account:
“From April 2016, it’s been a requirement for all GP practices in England to set up a patient participation group or “patients’ forum”. I was asked in late 2016 by my GP if I was willing to participate.
One of the potential jobs of a patients’ forum is ensuring patients are aware of their rights and identifying ways of improving how surgeries are run. I live in a council ward of east London where only 37% of people were born in England: most came from India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh and the average age is 30. There is always a constant shift in the population and lots of people in rented, often crowded housing. The rates for TB infection are amongst the highest in Europe.
I had heard stories of GP surgeries demanding to see proof of immigration status and about the pressure from the government on the NHS to share data on patients in order to track down potential “illegal” migrants. So, at my surgery’s patients’ forum last month, I raised the idea of making a public declaration that our surgery would never ask for a patient’s passport as proof of their identification.
I expected a battle on this, but there was complete agreement from the rest of the forum and also from the GP. We talked about the importance of ensuring as many people as possible are registered, particularly to ensure early diagnosis of TB but also mental health issues and general medical advice in an area where only 45% of the residents speak English.
The plan now is to encourage other GPs in the local Clinical Commissioning Group area to take up this public stance and display posters too.”
This poster can be used by GP surgeries who want to make it clear that they oppose government attempts to turn them into Home Office informers. See here for a full size pdf version of the poster for downloading and printing.
Written by Schools Against Borders for Children (ABC)
On Sunday 20th November, about 20 children and adults came together for the first ever Kids Against Raids and Borders meeting. There were wide ranging discussions about the ways that racist violence is carried out through government agencies and individual actions.
Young people talked about their experiences of racism and everyone talked about developing strategies to avoid or stop harm creates by racists.
One 14 year old suggested using Snapchat to share resources about what Immigration Enforcement vans look like and what to do when you see an immigration raid or if a family member is questioned by an immigration officer (don’t talk as you can refuse to answer their questions). The group discussed how to raise awareness among their peers about the school census and what immigration controls actually involve, and ideas included making comics, leaflets and zines.
Young people also broke out into their own space to discuss ideas without adults dominating their conversation. Using memes like the Mannequin Challenge was an idea that KARB will look into producing.
Kojo from Against Borders for Children did a presentation and Q & A on the Government’s Foreign Children Database and the ongoing boycott of nationality questions on the school census. The campaign recently won a concession which now means pre-school children are now exempt from the nationality questions but 5 – 19 year olds will still be targeted in January.
We also watched a video of a Shutdown Yarls Wood demonstration by Sin Fronteras and they talked about how to make links with those in detention.
The next meeting will be set in the New Year. All are welcome to attend so contact Schools ABC for more information and to keep updated.
The first few months since the introduction of the nationality requirements of the school census has seen campaigning & boycott calls from groups like Schools ABC and Defend Digital Me, as well as children such as Biplob who have simply refused to comply with the data collection. On the back of this, the next Nights against Borders social in South London will see the launch of a new youth-led group called Kids Against Raids & Borders (KARB). This first meeting will provide a space for children and young people to get together and plan. The not-so-young are equally welcome to come along in the spirit of solidarity.
KIDS AGAINST RAIDS & BORDERS (KARB) – FIRST MEETING, SUNDAY 20TH NOVEMBER 3.30-6PM AT THE FIELD, 385 QUEENS ROAD, NEW CROSS.
Children cross borders.
Children are targeted by racists.
Children witness raids.
Children see media and political campaigns that scapegoat migrants.
This is a group for children, young people and their families to support each other and share ways of resisting raids and borders in children’s lives. In our first ever meeting as part of the monthly Nights against Borders :
– Grown-ups can talk with other families about the impact of anti-immigrant campaigns on our families and children, and discuss how they can support children in the face of these campaigns;
– Young people and children can meet together, discuss what they want from the group, make a blog site, a zine and artwork for the group, see a film made by young people about resisting borders plan other activities, learn about resisting raids;
-Younger children can play, paint, make things, tell and hear stories.
3.30-5pm: Kids activities in the greenhouse & garden (entrance through the side gate).
5-6pm: Discussion in the main space with contributions from KARB, Sin Fronteras (a Latin American youth group working for migrant rights) and SchoolsABC (a campaign group against borders in schools).
6-10pm: Food and social.
Download the leaflet here
We repost this important statement from Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) about raids which took place in Soho on Thursday. Stop the raids in Soho and Chinatown!
Sex Worker Open University is extremely concerned by last night’s raids on (presumed) sex work premises in Chinatown and Soho. ‘Operation Lanhydrock’ has been described in the press as an anti-trafficking raid, however this is clearly not about the safety or rights of the women “rescued”, who have been taken into immigration detention. It seems likely that they will be deported. Immigration detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood have been documented to be places of endemic abuse for those detained there, making the police statement that these women have been taken to “a place of safety” a sadly disturbing claim.
The phrase ‘anti-trafficking’ in the police press release gives these raids a form of progressive cover – but it would be extremely naive, after a summer of of raids such as those at Byron Burger, and ever-mounting anti-migrant rhetoric from the government, to imagine that the police and immigration service act in the best interests of migrants or the best interests of workers. At the very least, regardless of your perspective on sex work, a perspective of deep skepticism towards the police and immigration services’ representation of their own motives and actions is crucial.
We also want to highlight the police seizure of £35,000. Again, regardless of your views on sex work, this money clearly belongs to the women who were working in these premises. However, lack of police accountability to migrant workers, and the horrendously broad proceeds of crime act make it highly likely that these women will not see this money – their money – again. The police claim that “the operation is aimed at bringing to justice those who seek to profit from the exploitation of vulnerable people” is deeply ironic given that the police themselves have profited in this raid from their own exploitation of vulnerable people to the tune of £35,000. The criminalisation of both prostitution and migration is extremely profitable for the state.
Sex Worker Open University is calling for the immediate release of the women arrested last night, the return of their money to them, and an end to racist, anti-migrant, anti-prostitution raids in Soho and Chinatown.