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Activists fight 'racist' Bill at Border Agency

Status check law part of Home Secretary May's 'really hostile environment for illegal migrants'

Campaigners targeted a UK Border Agency centre in Leeds yesterday in protest against the coalition government's racist Immigration Bill.

They demonstrated outside Waterside Court Reporting Centre, where asylum-seekers are forced to register weekly, many travelling miles to get there.

The Bill will force immigrants to undergo status checks before they can receive routine health treatment, open a bank account or get a driver's licence.

It will make landlords check tenants' immigration status and will introduce a "deport first, appeal later" policy for many migrants facing removal.

Leeds No Borders group organised the protest at the agency centre.

Spokeswoman Emily Dobson said: "These changes will increase homelessness and economic hardship among migrants, leave individuals unable to access health care and open the door for widespread racial discrimination in housing.

"The deaths of 363 migrants off the coast of the island of Lampedusa a few weeks ago ought to have reminded Theresa May and the rest of the coalition how much is at stake in debates about migrant rights.

"Instead the Home Secretary's stated aspirations for the Bill to 'create a really hostile environment for illegal migrants' merely reveals her government's callous indifference to migrants' most basic human rights.

"It seems the shocking revelations over the past few months about the racist and inhumane treatment migrants face - like the sexual abuse at Yarl's Wood detention centre to the 'Go Home' vans - are not merely incidental or accidental, but part and parcel of the government's broader policy to dehumanise and degrade migrants."

Eight years ago a Leeds asylum-seeker hanged himself in Yarl's Wood so that his teenage son could stay in Britain.

Manuel Bravo from Angola and his son Antonio, 13, were seized in a raid on their Leeds home and taken to Yarl's Wood.

Regulations say people under 18 cannot be deported without an adult. Mr Bravo took his own life knowing authorities would then be unable to deport Antonio.

His action led to the founding in Leeds of the Manuel Bravo Project which provides free legal advice for asylum-seekers.


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