This week (8th Feb 2021), MRN met with the Challenging Immigration Raids lawyers’ network. This network convened in 2018 and comprises lawyers and activists collaborating on advice, strategies and legal support for those subjected to immigration raids. We hold meetings quarterly, and have developed a referral system for individuals subjected to raids to reach lawyers who can provide legal support, as well as know your rights resources for during and after a raid. The network has allowed lawyers to share ideas and opinions on the legality of different raids, keep up-to-date on new developments in the law and practice, and work to bring strategic litigation on the matter.
Due to lockdowns, there have been few immigration raids lately. However, MRN were able to share about our recent research regarding ‘illegal’ working. Members of the group strategised about how to best obtain further information about how intelligence is used by ICE, particularly through the use of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. In addition, we were able to discuss the use of warrants in raids and recent appeal outcomes of civil penalty cases. The Anti-Raids Network, who are active members of the group, have written an excellent summary on understanding immigration raids here, including why warrants are a topic that the lawyers’ network focuses on.
As another topic of focus from this week’s meeting, there is an immigration enforcement centre that has been proposed for development in Newham. Our network is seeking ways to meaningfully oppose this development. The centre was originally approved at the end of 2019 as a facility for offices, however, the Home Office has submitted a ‘change of use’ application, which says that a reporting centre with 35 custody cells will be part of the new development. This is not merely an office building, this is a new site for immigration detention. While there are countless reasons to oppose this development related to humans rights abuses, most notably, this will be extremely damaging to the Newham community. We believe these centres harm community relations, furthering a climate of fear and mistrust for all migrants.
If you have immigration or employment legal expertise, or are an activist working in this space, we are looking to grow our network. If interested in joining, or if you have any ideas about the above information, please email: [email protected]