Pre-Christmas purge of the UK Border Agency who were rushing through to remove failed asylum seekers from the country has been slammed by the anti- deportation campaigners.
Every year during the Christmas period there is an attempt by UKBA to deport refused asylum seekers knowing very well that resources at this time of the year are stretched, offices are closed and lawyers are not available, the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigners (NCADC) claimed.
Though the UKBA deny that they have any end of the year targets the increased activities during this time of the year suggests otherwise says the campaign group.
Immigration lawyers and other NGO’s as well as the courts, are overstretched as they try to get things finished before Christmas, NCADC added.
NCADC co-ordinator Lisa Matthews said while Christmas was for most people a joyful holiday, for migrants without leave to remain, and those supporting them, it was a time of fear and uncertainty.
Adding to the crisis was the annual pre-Christmas purge of the UKBA which seems to have become a seasonal tradition. It was not mere coincidence that the UKBA was remarkably consistent in its attempts to forcibly remove migrants in late December which only strengthens the doubt that it is to meet their end of the year targets.
She added that it was not like the UKBA was not aware that it was much harder to fight deportations during this of year because lawyers, support organisations and the courts were overwhelmed with emergency cases before the courts close for Christmas.
The campaign group added that exact figures are difficult to pinpoint and pointed out an additional problem, as individuals facing imminent forced removal detained away from London are routinely moved to a detention centre near London one or two days before the flight.
This process made matters more complex for co-ordinators making last minute applications for injunctions or judicial reviews and was made worse if the mover was cross-border, from Scotland to England.
A UK Border Agency said that the UK has had a proud record of offering sanctuary to that in need but where the courts or the UKBA had found someone was not in genuine need, they were expected to return home voluntarily. If they don’t then their removal is enforced.
Detainees were given a minimum of 72 hours notice before removal which must always include at least two working days. All detainees have ongoing contact with legal representatives via telephone the agency said.