Migrants, Multiculture

This is how you organize an anti-raids campaign

This initiative, made up of organizations that defend the rights of immigrant workers, is fighting against the actions of the UKBA.

Benjamin Serra

There was a raid against immigrants that took place last Saturday, 2 of February. It was conducted by the United Kingdom Border Agency in Elephant & Castle, an area with a great number of Latin American immigrants.

However, the Home Office was greatly frustrated because of the rapid action of the AntiRaids campaign.

More than 20 people went to the restaurant where the raid was to help prevent these unfair measures from being taken. Rapid and effective communication along the members’ networks allowed many immigrants to be educated on their rights and helped them to avoid going through this stressful and confusing situation.

The presence of these helpful people was a product of the actions of a certain campaign: the AntiRaids campaign.

Since its inception, the campaign has helped to raise awareness and inform the immigrant community about their rights, in case they ever have to face a situation like this.

The events of 25 of February 2012, was the trigger for this organization to take form. During a concert in London by Don Omar, a Puerto Rican singer, one of the largest raids of the United Kingdom Border Agency took place, with 90 people arrested as a result.

Agents accessed the site and asked for identification from those attending the event, despite the fact that residents in this country are not required to carry documentation with them.

For this reason, the campaign took form and organisations such as Latin American Workers Association, Precarious Workers Brigade, Stop Deportations, No Borders and South London Solidarity Federation, among others, as well as individuals, worked together to create this movement that would defend the idea that borders should not exist.

“It is unjust that they catch people like that. They make them criminals without purpose”, affirmed Maria Perez, a member of the organisation. “Our objective is to show the people their rights and that they can deny showing their documentation” she added.

Concrete Actions

Maria stated that the organisation does not break the law. “We do not do anything destructive. We only believe that the people need rights that are respected by all. This is why we want to show them what options they have”, she comments.

The AntiRaids campaign designed “bust cards” for the people that it helps. These cards contain useful information for the carrier, in case they were to be in this situation. On one side, they include instructions about what they should do if there is a raid.

“Raids are normally a matter of racism, so you must act normal and if you do not want to show your , then you may deny. It is your right”, affirmed Maria Pérez.

The other side of the card includes information on what to do when moving to an immigrant detention centre. It instructs that a person can fill out a temporary entry permit to the country in order to get a lawyer.

The “bust cards” were created with the objective to inform the citizens about their rights. However, on many occasions, the raid victims do not speak English.

For this reason, there are versions of the “bust cards” in several languages such as Spanish, French, Arabic and Portuguese.

The help that the volunteers provide with the translation of these cards as well as the advice from legal experts has been fundamental to the victims.

“Although we do not do anything illegal, we have to be very careful”, stated Maria. The “bust cards” are done with help from lawyers and the members of the organisation are the ones who pass them out to the immigrant worker community.

“We do not have spies, we simply infer what might happen by the previous movements of the Home Office, and we have many traders who warn us. Then, we go and we mobilise”, stated Maria Perez. The volunteers pass these cards out into the zones with the largest immigrant population in order to make people aware of their rights.

In regards to what this organisation does, its activities are divided into 3 areas. On one end, there are public relations that inform people who sympathize with the raid victims’ positions but do not know what to do to help them. There are also the support networks that are created in raid situations. Lastly, there is a section that deals with counselling and the creation of the “bust cards” which are connected to the organization called “Theatre of the Oppressed”.

There are also people who teach immigrant workers what they must do if agents ask them for their documentation. This is so they react properly, and they are taught some useful phrases in English. “It is as easy as saying ‘I do not want to talk to you’ and having the knowledge that every citizen has the right not to show their papers” stated Maria.

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