Campaign groups and academics are saying that immigration raids are taking place with inadequate levels of evidence.
A Yorkshire migrants’ rights group say that Home Office immigration raids “exist to scare Black and Brown migrant communities” after figures show that four out of five raids in the county did not end in detainment last year.
Immigration officers carried out 253 ‘enforcement visits’ in Yorkshire in 2020 resulting in detaining 53 people.
Dr Peter Walsh of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the number of detainments is low compared to the number of raids because the Home Office relies on ‘unverifiable’ public tip-offs.
However, government officials say their system is ‘fair but firm’ and that the public ‘rightly expects’ them to investigate every potential breach of the law.
Director of the Racial Justice Network in Bradford, Penny Wangari-Jones said the figures did not surprise her and said the tip-off system is open to abuse.
As a result of Brexit and since 2016 there have been increases in hate crimes, with immigration raids and immigration tip-offs being another form of violence community members face. “Raids exist to scare Black and Brown migrant communities, regardless of their immigration status.
“The border force are willing to accept any tip-offs as a way to further criminalise and create a climate of fear with Black and Brown communities”.
A spokeswoman for the Bradford group said the fact few people were detained in enforcement visits last year ‘proves that immigration raids occur with inadequate levels of evidence”.
“Any person is able to pick up a phone, create a false claim, and before you know it an immigration raid is being carried out. This gives great power to racists, as they know they can make calls whenever they feel like it”.
“The hostile environment makes everyone a border force or border force ally because they can report anyone they take a dislike to or have a suspicion for. Business competitors, jilted lovers, ended friendships and racist neighbours could all ring the Home Office and report someone for revenge”,
Out of the 253 raids that took place in Yorkshire last year, 90 took place in commercial premises according to Home Office figures. The Racial Justice Network say takeaways are key targets for immigration raids because they receive the most tip-offs, meaning that migrants ‘go to work not knowing if they will return home’.
Dr Walsh and Jon Beech of the Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network both said that takeaways are a common target for raids. “We do not see raids in city council offices, or banks on the High Street but it often happens in takeaways, factories and car washes” said a spokeswoman from the Racial Justice Network”.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Enforcement raids are intelligence led. The public rightly expects we investigate each potential breach thoroughly and we make no apology for this. Th Government is bringing forward a New Plan for Immigration that is fair but firm and which will stop the abuse of the system and expedite the removal of those who have no right to be here. We make absolutely no apologies for removing those who have no right to remain in the UK”.