THE Home Office has been funding faith and community organisations to help remove migrant rough sleepers from the UK, it was revealed on Tuesday (5).
Thousands of pounds have been paid to faith and community groups to assist the Home Office with the removals.
According to a list obtained by human rights charity Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research seen by the Guardian, 21 Home Office immigration surgeries are embedded in community centres and places of worship across London and in Birmingham, Slough and Manchester.
Those targeted include Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in addition to Brazilians, Albanians and Chinese people.
“The extent to which the Home Office is infiltrating our communities by co-opting community and faith organisations is extremely shocking,” Fizza Qureshi, co-chair executive of the Migrants’ Rights Network was quoted as saying.
“These kinds of practices destroy trust within and between communities. It will also leave many marginalised people wondering who they can turn to and trust in their time of need,” she said.
Two Sikh organisations — Sikh Council and Sikh Youth and Community service — revealed to the Guardian that they have helped the Home Office to spend more than 400 people back to Indian. Brazilian organisation Casa Do Brasil said it has helped in the removal of about 320 people last year.
A spokesperson for Casa do Brasil said they provide a voluntary departure service from the Home Office every Monday for people without the right to stay in the UK to return to their country. Their budget is based on the expenses incurred to make the programme available to those in need.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Immigration surgeries give people the opportunity to speak to immigration officers about the steps they should take to regularise their stay or to get practical support to return voluntarily.
“These are held in community and faith-based locations, including mosques, in order to have conversations with individuals without the fear of arrest. Home Office staff build relationships with community leaders and surgeries are conducted with their permission.”