Uk To Implement Strict Immigration Program In Religious Centers
The Independent recently reported that UK Immigration officials have increased the visits to religious centers to suppress illegal migration.
As included in the part of the ‘Hostile Environment’ strategy which was launched in 2012 under the leadership of Theresa May, the former Home Secretary, a four-fold increase in visits to mosques, churches, and temples have been observed by the authorities since 2019. The aim behind this strategy was to target illegal immigrants and to make it difficult for all of them to live here in the UK as much as possible. Instead, the government was encouraging illegal migrants to voluntarily leave the country.
This year, at least three cases took place where people were directly accompanied from religious sites to the airports to board flights to leave the country. Over the past three years, teams carried out more than 400 visits to religious centers, targeting illegal migrants and failed asylum-seekers.
Up to 46 visits took place in 2019 as compared to 2021 which was 167 visits. Around 137 visits were carried out this year from January to July.
According to the guidelines of the Home Office, it is said communities including the faith communities are not willing to assist with the operations being carried out by the police and the immigration officers. Some reasonable steps should be taken to gain advice from concerned communities. The following are the Home Office guidelines stated regarding such visits:
- Evidence should be provided and ensured that all other methods of the investigation are exhausted. The scheduling of an operation to religious premises must be treated as a last resort.
- In such sensitive operations, a large number of police officers, intelligence officers, and in some cases even the offenders will be involved.
- Authorisation from deputy director level and informing the immigration minister is required when conducting operations at religious premises. Informing the home secretary may also be required in such sensitive cases.
However, this practice was criticized by Mary Atkins, the policy adviser for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
She stated that there is no place for Immigration enforcement in the faith spaces. However, these workshops should be immediately stopped by the Government and the hostile environment should be scrapped to get everybody access to essential public services.
They are often even more important for the migrants who have faced discrimination because of this government’s anti-migrant obsession and are barred from the most essential services.
It was shocking to see the Home Office violating the sanctity of the spaces to utilize them for pursuing worshippers.
It has been stated by the domestic abuse charity Southall Black Sisters; Shakila Tranum Maan that many clients got duped and misinformed regarding the surgeries they opted for.
She further added that she has contacted different people whom they thought were going along with them to get help. Instead, they were advised that it would be much better for them to leave the UK.
People were blindly providing their personal information to the Home Office Officials without identifying clearly who they are and to whom they are giving details.
It is being felt like a violation of the grounds of worship according to the clients of the domestic abuse charity in Southall. According to them, people visit there because they are in turmoil or in search of peace. They also go there often just for the sake of food at the community kitchen.
A spokesperson at the Home Office stated that their engagement surgeries provide the opportunity to seek information from immigration officials regarding their stay in the UK or receive any kind of practical support to return home voluntarily.
According to the spokesperson, these surgeries are being conducted with permission from the community leaders. They are held in faith-based community locations in order to conduct conversations with individuals without any fear of being arrested.
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