Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, has historically been one of the most multicultural cities in the UK. Cardiff possesses a claim to the first Masjid in the UK along with proudly being home to the longest established Black community in the country.
Mohammed Islam is a councillor from Riverside, central Cardiff. After a furore over a fellow councillor, Iona Gordon, calling United Kingdom Border Agency over reports of ‘illegal’ migrants, Islam has called for a demonstration outside of the UKBA offices in Cardiff after saying that UKBA is ‘racist’.
This claim comes after news was revealed that the Riverside community in Cardiff has suffered 21 raids in 14 days that have been targeting only Black and Minority Ethnic Community-owned businesses. A raid can take hours at a time, close a business for half or even a full day, and see people questioned for hours on end. He has called for a demonstration that will be taking place at noon outside the United Kingdom Border Agency in Cardiff on Newport Road at noon.
UKBA puts those who have been denied asylum into detention and there’s no limit on how long you can be kept in this state. Despite pledges from the current coalition government to end child detention, people under the age of 18 are still held in detention centres. In order to get people to these detention centres, the government institution is known to carry out ‘dawn raids’. A recent report published by the immigration inspector found that these raids have become “the norm”, regardless of backing or support from the government. Most arrests are made between 6.30-6.40am to minimise the contact with the local community (and therefore any reaction, or resistance to those being arrested) and to find a family together before they leave to go to school or work.
MPs serving in Parliament have called the asylum system ‘appaling’ in a recent report presented to the House of Commons. Recent news revealed that the amount of people working at UKBA will be reduced by 50%, putting further pressure to an already overworked system. This will increase the amount of people falsely deported and at serious harm of violence, torture, or even death. Legal Aid has been hugely cut so some people may find difficulty in locating financial access to solicitors to defend their right to stay in the United Kingdom. UKBA still deports back to Afghanistan and Iraq, which are currently occupied by NATO forces.
UKBA in Cardiff was subject to a leak in 2010 that revealed the following:
- Staff had a stuffed toy gorilla, a “grant monkey”, which was placed as a badge of humiliation and shame on the desk of any officer who approved an asylum application.
- One method that was used to determine whether or not an asylum case was legitimate with a person from North Korea was to ask them whether or not they ate chop suey.
- One case involved a woman claiming asylum from the Congo who had right to remain in the UK. They decided the woman should be removed anyway, and when the whistleblower felt frustrated at this, sought help from the legal department who told her “Umbongo, umbongo, they kill them in the Congo”.
- A manager said that if he could he would “line them all up outside and shoot them” when talking about the asylum seekers who came to the office.
- One worker from UKBA would test boys from African countries who said they had been forcibly conscripted as child soldiers by making them lie down on the floor and demonstrate how they shot at people in the bush.
- If a case was complex,the workers were advised to refuse it and “let a tribunal sort it out”. It was only cases that had been raised by MPs that were properly dealt with.
Categorisations such as ‘alien,’ ‘immigrant,’ ‘illegal’ and ‘foreigner’ create divisions that divert attention away from the real causes of poverty, environmental destruction and inequalities both in the UK and worldwide, i.e. Capitalism and unequal power relations. Nobody is illegal; the i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is “illegal.”