Radio Ulster: An unhappy St Patricks Day for immigrants
Radio Ulster responded to messages from the Refugee Action Group and ran a piece about the UK Border Agency's St Patrick's Day enforcement operations on 'Good Morning Ulster' this morning.
You can listen to it online here (just scroll to 1.04 or one hour and four minutes). As I said on the programme, St Patrick's Day should be all about fun and celebration, and is a time of hospitality when we invite and welcome others into our homes. But, for the UK Border Agency it is an opportunity to exploit the closure of solicitors' office and to remove and deport as many people as possible without those people having access to legal advice and representation.
UKBA has scheduled today, of all days, as well as last weekend, to carry out Operation Gull , the secretive and irregular operation targeting immigrants at the air and sea ports, which the Law Centre and others have criticised.
The Refugee Action Group and the Law Centre were contacted by Dr Chris Gilligan, a passenger on the Belfast-Stranraer ferry at the weekend, who was very worried about an African woman stopped by immigration before she could board the same ferry. It has not been possible to trace her or to find out what happened to the woman.
The UKBA response on the radio piece was interesting, as they justified Operation Gull in terms of maintaining 'the integrity of the border'. But what about our integrity, as fair-minded, open and hospitable people? What about the integrity of our communities which are threatened by the invasive enforcement tactics of the immigration authorities whose stated targets are to remove and deport more people? Should the integrity of the border come first?
RAG next meets at Amnesty International's offices this Thursday at 2 PM and all who wish to support refugees and asylum-seekers are welcome. RAG's information pack for immigrants facing detention can be downloaded here.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.