This morning, Monday 10 December, Santa Claus, with the help of some of his elves, erected an 18 foot tall tripod outside the main entrance of the UKBA offices in Glasgow to prevent immigration officials carrying out controversial dawn raids on the families of asylum seekers.
Santa refused to come down from the tripod, which was decorated with tinsel and Christmas decorations, until the UKBA promised that no more children will be terrorised by immigration officials breaking into their homes to arrest them.
After Santa got into position (with a little Christmas magic) two dark blue UKBA enforcement vans containing officials setting out to carry out an immigration enforcement action were prevented from leaving. Other immigration officials have been prevented from entering the offices for work. Protesters believe that the vans were on their way to raid another asylum seeker family.
Santa in his traditional red and white costume and with a big white beard was supported by a group of elves from the Campaign Grotto based at the Unity Centre, Glasgow. Several police were in attendence during the day and observers decribed the atmosphere as very good humoured. Protesters played Christmas carols during the action.
Santa said: “I’m taking this action to stop any more children from being detained by the UKBA like little 4 year old son Shahmer who with his two teenage sisters and mum and dad was arrested in his home last week by the UKBA. I am shocked that children can be locked up in this way when the government pledged they would never do this again.”
Earlier this week Glasgow Unity held a successful day-long protest outside the Border Agency Enforcement Unit at Brand Street to protest against the arrest and removal of Govan family Funke Olubiyi and her five year old son Joseph to the Home Office’s new family detention centre near Crawley in Sussex. To loud chants of ‘end child detention now’ activists ‘locked on’ outside the gates of the reporting centre and a protester took several hours for police to remove from a tripod while supporters from the national coalition of anti-deportation committees kept up the vigil.
Govan & Craigton Integration Network drop-in, and GCIN members are shocked and angry that their friend has been treated in this way. Terrorised in their home, then detained and deported within a week with no chance to gather their possessions, or say goodbye to their friends, let alone mount any kind of legal challenge.
This is the real face of the Tory coalition government’s ‘family friendly’ approach to the treatment of asylum seekers.