The Home Office is holding “immigration surgeries” at charities and places of worship.
They tell homeless migrants that attending will help them get financial support, and may help them regularise their immigration status. They are assured the sessions are not part of “an enforcement approach” to immigration status.
Lies – as was revealed on October 15.
The surgeries are run by the Home Office’s immigration enforcement unit. Officials may decide that attendees have no right to be in the UK, asking these individuals — who came seeking and promised support — to their agree to “voluntary removal”.
Just how “voluntary” this is exposed by the fact that those who refuse risk being deported, on the Home Office’s “case-by-case” discretion.
The Salvation Army, Sikh gurdwaras and a Chinese community support centre are some of the bodies working with the Home Office in this way. St Mungo’s – another charity which purports to help homeless people – has worked alongside Home Office teams searching for rough sleepers to arrest and deport.
This practice is heartless and deceitful, and undermines claims of these places to provide “safe spaces” or attempts to build trust with vulnerable people who are – for good reason – deeply suspicious.
The extent of the government’s willingness or even desire to cause further suffering to the worst-off in our society is harrowing. The community organisations and charities working with the Home Office are disgraceful.
It should go without saying that sections of the state should never lie and trick to ensnare individuals in this way, for whatever reason.
This programme comes on the back of the Conservatives’ relentless anti-migrant policies and attempts to create a “hostile environment” for migrants. It is in the context, too, of policies which have fuelled skyrocketing homelessness, increasingly criminalised rough sleeping, and disgustingly disregarded the well-being or dignity of people who find themselves in these situations.
Homeless people in a tube tunnel near Westminster were recently evicted following complaints from the Westminster chaplain.
The answer, of course, to rough sleeping and whatever issues it might cause to passers-by is programmes to support rough sleepers to improve their situations. Not to try to sweep the people under the carpet.
In another sense, this policy is the cruel logical development of any politics which aim to restrict free movement.
Labour must commit to, and when in power implement, the radical policy on defending and extending free movement and migrants’ rights passed at conference. It should – in line with conference policy — commit to repeal, and its local councils should work-around or flout, the “No Recourse to Public Funds” policy for migrants. NRPF is particularly harmful for homeless migrants.
Labour should also implement the vital policies in the conference motion passed on homelessness. Immediately:
“Call on all local authorities to cease the use of measures which could criminalise rough sleeping and begging.
“Call on all local authorities to cease the practice of embedding Home Office immigration officers in their local services, as denying support to migrants is driving the crisis on our streets.”
And to commit to:
“Repeal of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, an end to all powers to regard begging or rough sleeping as ‘Anti-social’ behaviour.
“[Invest] more than any previous government in social and affordable homes and safe places to live.
“[Make] 8,000 more homes available for those with a history of rough sleeping.
“Mak[e] £100m available to councils in year one to provide additional help for rough sleepers in cold weathers”
The prevalence of homelessness and rough sleeping, and the plight of rough sleepers, when the resources are easily available to alleviate this situation, is an abomination.