The Home Office is at the centre of a new immigration controversy after a series of spot checks were carried out at stations in London yesterday.
Not content with driving a couple of vans around various London boroughs, the Home Office appears to have launched a new campaign of stopping random non-white people at stations to inquire after their immigration status. Officials have targeted Walthamstow, Kensal Green, Stratford and Cricklewood, arresting 139 suspects (or 'offenders' which appears to be the new word to describe someone who hasn't actually been found guilty of any crime yet).
The spot checks caused a stir on Twitter, with people calling the Home Office's tactics 'dystopian' and 'racist'. Witnesses said only people from ethnic minorities were stopped by officials, leading to accusations of racial profiling. Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant said:
"Intelligence-led operations to remove illegal immigrants are to be welcomed. Racial profiling is not."
We also hope that whoever is running the Home Office's Twitter account is thick-skinned — posting pictures of people being stopped and questioned (albeit pixellated) probably isn't going to win them many friends.
This latest cack-handed attempt to be seen to be doing something about illegal immigration has been described as 'intimidating and divisive'. Labour MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner has written to Home Secretary Theresa May to protest against the Home Office's tactics:
“We do not yet live in a society where the police or any other officers of the law are entitled to detain people without reasonable justification and demand their papers.
“The actions of your department would however appear to be hastening us in that direction.”
Photo by David Crausby in the Londonist Flickr pool.