By Isabel Ringrose
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Anti-racists mobilise against Tory plan to snatch refugees

The Home Office will launch a surprise operation to detain refugees waiting for their asylum decision
07/12/2023. London, United Kingdom. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a press conference in 9 Downing Street to outline the new Rwanda legislation. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street illustrating the Tory plan on refugees

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has a new plan to attack refugees (Picture: Simon Walker)

Activists across Britain were opposing the Tories’ detainment of refugees on Monday. Ten people blocked an immigration van leaving a migration reporting centre in Loughborough.

Sue told Socialist Worker, “As soon as we heard a van might be coming for refugees, we put out a call for all to go to the reporting centre.
“We blocked the van and refused to move. We said until we saw the van was empty, we weren’t moving. They showed inside the van and it was empty, but we are sticking around just in case it comes back.

“We aren’t going to let the state snatch people without an opposition. Refugees are welcome here.”

The Home Office will launch a surprise operation to detain refugees waiting for their asylum decision from Monday to prepare them for deportation to Rwanda. This will be done without warning to refugees attending immigration appointments.

The state will also begin to pick up refugees nationwide in a two-week operation and hold them for up to ten weeks before the first flight takes off to Rwanda. From here they will be immediately transferred to detention centres already prepared for the round-up. The first flights to Rwanda are due to take off this summer.

It’s clear why Rishi Sunak has decided to do this—to time with the local elections on Thursday and the coming general election. Sunak hopes cracking down on refugees will secure at least some seats and avoid a landslide humiliation.

Julie Sherry from Stand Up To Racism told Socialist Worker, “This is about creating a toxic atmosphere of racism and scapegoating, goading the violence of the far right in showing how much his government is willing to dehumanise refugees.”

The Rwanda bill passed through parliament last week and Sunak wants to waste no time seeing the first flight taking off.

Sunak said, “To detain people while we prepare to remove them, we’ve increased detention spaces to 2,200.

“To quickly process claims, we’ve got 200 trained, dedicated caseworkers ready and waiting. To deal with any legal cases quickly and decisively, the judiciary has made available 25 courtrooms and identified 150 judges who could provide over 5,000 sitting days.”

Cops in Scotland are also on alert to evade street protesters who block detention vans and stop the state snatching refugees. This is because of the strength of anti-racists who have stopped deportation vans before.

Anti-raids mobilisations stopped deportation raids in Glasgow on Kenmure Street in May 2021 and Nicholson Square in Edinburgh in June 2022.

And anti-racists across Britain have done similar—in Peckham and Hackney in London and last week in Kent to stop removals to a prison barge.

Some 100 protesters in Margate last Wednesday blocked the Home Office from taking 22 asylum seekers from a hotel to the Bibby Stockholm barge. The men have been in Margate for seven months and have suffered with ceilings falling down in their rooms.

The Block the Barge group tried to stop the move through letters to MPs and the Home Office, but instead stood last Tuesday night ready to block the removal coach.

This is the type of action that the Tories want to avoid. They know that anti-racists will fight to stop refugees being transported to Rwanda.

And that’s exactly what anti-racists have to do. The Home Office wants to snatch refugees without warning or support, and it can’t be allowed to.

Charity Care4Calais said to those who may be taken, “Please be assured that we remain firmly on your side and ready to help anyone targeted by this inhumane plan.

“Our caseworkers helped stop the first Rwanda fight and with your support we can do it again.”

Anti-raid groups need to be organised and prepared—networks have to make sure that any attempt to transport refugees and lock them in detention centres doesn’t happen. They have to block vans and organise occupations of immigration centres when refugees don’t return from their meetings.

In some areas anti-racists are moving to do this on Monday morning. Julie Sherry said, “We need to mobilise and galvanise the already existing anger at the Rwanda plan, and make it unworkable. We need to get outside immigration service offices, get leaflets out to refugees in hotel accommodation and build solidarity all across Britain to ensure that no one goes into a routine meeting and is snatched and abducted into a detention centre for deportation.

“We need a broad campaign that says loud and clear through mass protest that we will stop the government’s racist Rwanda plan, just like we stopped detention vans taking our neighbours away in Kenmure Street and elsewhere.”

Mass disruption outside Home Office buildings, in town centres and in workplaces have to demand any refugees that are taken are returned from their holding cells—and kept off flights.

And if any refugees are put on planes, they cannot be allowed to take off with a single refugee on board.

It’s time for trade unionists, anti-racists and anyone who hates the Tories to unite to stop the mass round-ups. 

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