The picture shows homeless people in sleeping bags, outside.
  There were dozens of local authority/Home Office operations involving rough sleepers across London last year. Photo credit: Souvid Datta for the Guardian.

Charities referring rough sleepers to immigration enforcement teams

Article in The Guardian
8 March, 2017

“Leading homelessness charities whose remit is to protect vulnerable rough sleepers have been passing information about some of them to the Home Office, leading to their removal from the UK.

A report from Corporate Watch, The Round Up, reveals concerns about homelessness charities’ links to immigration enforcement and comes at a time of increasing disquiet about the involvement of landlords, schools and the NHS with immigration enforcement. 

Civil liberties campaigners have accused the government of having a toxic “border on every street” policy.”

We knew that “firewalls” between social services and immigration enforcement are key to ensuring access of migrants to rights and benefits without fear of detention and deportation, whatever their status and circumstances. It seems that homelessness “charities” – instituted to help the neediest in our societies – need firewalls as well.

Such charities have an intimate knowledge of the life of rough sleepers and their reasoning regarding the complexity of the vulnerabilities of people living in the streets is challenging. Helping someone who wants to return home is indeed useful. Denouncing a foreigner to immigration enforcement for forced removal is another matter: such charities will quickly lose the trust of rough sleepers, who will be pushed further into the underground and its dangers. Moreover, has anyone planned any evaluation – or even simply given it a thought – as to what happens to rough sleepers once returned to their country of origin? Is there any collaboration with social services or charities in the country of origin?

Immigration enforcement has a mission to accomplish. But it is not necessary to enlist other services as auxiliaries of immigration enforcement: they have their own mission to perform, a mission which can be jeopardized if the trust of beneficiaries is lost. We need to collectively think about what kind of non-repressive solutions are best implemented by homelessness charities in favour of rough sleepers.

To read the full article, please click here. 

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