Socialist Worker

Section nine conference aims to stop separation of refugee families

by Elane Heffernan
Issue No. 1983

A campaign by social workers to resist anti-asylum measures will step up a gear on 28 January. A conference in Manchester will aim to prevent the homelessness and separation of families under section nine of the Asylum and Immigration Act.

The conference was organised after the anti-deportation struggle of the Bolton-based Sukula family. This created a test case against New Labour’s attempts to starve and intimidate families that they cannot deport into leaving the country.

Under section nine social workers, who have been responsible for paying rent and around £30 a week for food to families that are barred from working or claiming mainstream benefits, are told to stop giving money and evict the family.

Once the family is homeless or without food, social workers are told that “to protect children” they must take them into care leaving the parents on the streets.

Kidnapping the children was to be the new weapon described by immigration minister Tony McNulty as “a means to influence failed asylum seekers”.

The Sukula family fled Congo in 2001. They have made a home in Bolton. Teachers and social workers have worked in their unions to build the campaign.

The unions have succeeded in winning widespread support and seem on the verge of overturning section nine. Councils have refused to evict or separate families.

However, section nine is just one part of the withdrawal of basic needs such as food and shelter. The conference will discuss in detail how to take the campaign forward.

For details of the conference see Meetings and events

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Sat 14 Jan 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1983
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