Huge crowds cheered and applauded tonight as two Indian men detained by Border Force officials in an immigration van in Glasgow following a stand-off with hundreds of protesters were released by police.
Locals surrounded the enforcement vehicle this afternoon, with some sitting on the road in front of it, and one even laying underneath it, as part of a demonstration against an earlier immigration raid.
Around 200 protesters were at the scene, with chants of ‘Leave our neighbours, let them go’ and ‘Cops go home’ being heard as a ring of police stood around the van.
The mid-morning forced removal saw two young men taken from a top-floor flat by Home Office officials.
Authorities say they were detained on suspicion of immigration offences before being released on bail pending further investigation, with footage posted to social media capturing the moment they stepped out of the van, surrounded by dozens of officers.
Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Home Office’s actions had been ‘reckless’.
Saying that immigration was a reserved issue, he tweeted: ‘Situation should never have occurred – the UK Govt’s hostile environment is not welcome here’.
He added: ‘I abhor Home Office immigration policy at the best of times, but to have taken the action they have today is at best completely reckless, and at worst intended to provoke.’
However, a source close to Priti Patel condemned the actions of the demonstrators today, claiming: ‘It is completely unacceptable for a mob to stop the lawful removal of people living in our country illegally.
‘This government 100% backs the frontline in removing those with no right to be here.’
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The UK Government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people by removing those with no right to be in the UK.
‘The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times.
‘The UK Government continues to tackle illegal migration in all its forms and our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally.’
A Police Scotland statement said Superintendent Mark Sutherland had decided to release the detained men ‘in order to protect the safety, public health and wellbeing of those involved in the detention and subsequent protest’.
The force asked those nearby to disperse from the area as soon as possible.
A spokeswoman said earlier: ‘Police Scotland does not assist in the removal of asylum seekers. Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.’
One of two men are released from the back of an Immigration Enforcement van accompanied by Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, in Kenmure Street, Glasgow
The detained men raise their arms as they are released by police today following a huge stand-off with protesters in Glasgow
Two men are released from the back of an Immigration Enforcement van accompanied by lawyer Aamer Anwar and Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, in Kenmure Street, Glasgow
A huge ring of police officers surrounded the two men as they were released and walked away from the immigration van
Police escort two men (white jacket & grey hoodie), who were detained by Immigration officials, away from a van after crowds stop it from departing
Protestors surround an Immigration Enforcement van to stop it from departing after individuals were detained in Glasgow
Two men are released from the back of an Immigration Enforcement van following a huge demonstration in Glasgow today
Dozens of police officers surround the two men as they are released from custody following a huge stand-off in Glasgow
Police officers are pictured entering an immigration van on Kenmure Street, in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow, which is surrounded by protesters in a bid to stop the deportation of their neighbours
Demonstrators sit in front of police by an immigration van in Glasgow today. Police were called to the street where it is understood protesters were trying to prevent immigration officers from removing people from a property
A line of police officers wearing face masks stand next to an immigration van which is surrounded by protesters. Around 200 protesters are at the scene, with chants of ‘leave our neighbours, let them go’ and ‘cops go home’ being heard
Police stand in a line with their arms crossed next to the immigration enforcement van. Glasgow MSP Alison Thewliss wrote: ‘This is absolutely awful, but heartened to see local residents in Pollokshields standing up for their neighbours’
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is ‘deeply concerned’ about the incident ‘in the heart of a community celebrating Eid’, adding: ‘My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained’
Home Office launches EU settlement scheme campaign as deadline approaches
The Home Office has launched a new information campaign urging EU citizens living in the UK to apply for its settlement scheme as soon as possible.
EU citizens have a deadline of June 30 to apply for settled status. This will afford them legal status to carry on living and working in the UK now the Brexit transition period and freedom of movement has ended.
The latest figures show 5.4million applications have been made to the scheme, with more than 4.9 million grants of status. There were 4.88million applications from England, 268,500 from Scotland, 89,800 from Wales and 88,600 from Northern Ireland.
The campaign launched on Thursday aims to make sure that EU citizens and their family members are aware of the deadline and know they need to apply, with adverts appearing on social media, TV and radio. So far, £8million has been spent on communication around the EU settlement scheme.
Immigration minister Kevin Foster said: ‘Every day, thousands of people are being granted status under the hugely successful EU settlement scheme and I would urge people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible to secure the status they deserve in UK law.
‘This new campaign will help us encourage those who need to apply to act now before the June 30 deadline.
‘The Government is committed to making sure everybody eligible for the scheme can apply, including those who are the most vulnerable or need extra support.’
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said earlier she was ‘deeply concerned’ about the incident ‘in the heart of a community celebrating Eid’.
Ms Sturgeon, who was sworn in on Thursday as MSP for Glasgow Southside, added: ‘My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained.’
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was ‘disgusted by the Home Office raids’.
He tweeted: ‘It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid.’
Ms Sturgeon also accused the Home Office of creating ‘a dangerous and unacceptable situation’ in the city.
She wrote on Twitter: ‘The @ukhomeoffice action today is creating a dangerous and unacceptable situation in Pollokshields. As local MSP, I am also seeking urgent answers from them – they must resolve this situation ASAP.’
Glasgow Central MSP Alison Thewliss added: ‘This is absolutely awful, but heartened to see local residents in Pollokshields standing up for their neighbours and refusing to accept the brutality of the UK Home Office.
‘I am taking this matter up with Ministers. Not in our name.’
Co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, wrote: ‘It’s horrific that people are forced to take such action to defend their most vulnerable neighbours from the brutality of the UK Home Office.
‘We need an asylum system worthy of the name, and asylum support provided to a standard our communities can be proud of.’
Imagery shared on social media showed a refreshments stall has been set up in a nearby bus stop on Kenmure Street for protesters.
Another video shows a man placing a sign outside his window on the street which reads: ‘If this is Team UK we reject it.’
Lawyer Aamer Anwar tweeted: ‘What a cynical provocative & disgusting move, on the day of #Eid @policescotland are assisting @pritipatel Home Office immigration in enforcement raid- as people of Pollokshields turn out. These are our neighbours. Let them go.’
A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘At around 9.55am this morning, police were called to support colleagues at the UK Border Agency at an address in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow.
A person places themselves underneath the immigration enforcement van which was stopped by protesters in Glasgow
A man holds a sign out of a window reading ‘if this is team UK we reject it’ above police officers guarding the immigration van
Police and demonstrators seen near an immigration van in Kenmure Street, Glasgow, which was surrounded by protesters
Police warn people away from the direction of an immigration enforcement van which had been surrounded by protesters
Police restrain protesters who blocked a Home Office van to stop it from leaving Kenmure Street in Ms Sturgeon’s constitency
Police officers and protesters are seen wearing face masks near the immigration van on Kenmure Street in Glasgow today
Demonstrators pictured in front of an immigration van on Kenmure Street in Glasgow. A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘At around 9.55am this morning, police were called to support colleagues at the UK Border Agency’
Remote hearings allow for post-deportation appeals, High Court judge rules
Improvements in technology mean people who have been deported can ‘reasonably’ bring their appeals from abroad, a High Court judge has said.
Yusuf Arman and a second unrelated man, known as GY, are Turkish citizens who had spent decades in the UK, but were deported in 2017 following multiple criminal convictions.
The men each made human rights claims to remain in the country but, after they were rejected and they were deported, both have launched appeals.
Both men asked the High Court for permission to review whether it was lawful that they were deported before their appeals were heard, meaning they had to bring their cases remotely.
Non-citizens convicted of crimes can be deported before their appeal is heard or determined, as long as it is not a breach of their human rights.
In a decision on Thursday, Mr Justice Mostyn said that while the Supreme Court’s decision was ‘almost inevitable’ due to the poor quality of the IT equipment used in the courts service in 2017, conditions were now different.
He said: ‘The necessity of most civil and family hearings to be conducted remotely while the virus has rampaged has been the mother, not so much of the invention, but of an accelerated evolution of practice and procedure bringing the law into the digital age.’
‘A number of protesters are now at the location. Officers are at the scene and inquiries are continuing.’
Police later added: ‘The call was made by UK Immigration Enforcement (UKIE) after a group of protesters gathered at the address where UKIE staff were in attendance.
‘Police Scotland does not assist in the removal of asylum seekers.
‘Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.’
Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of what he said were hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action.
The 54-year-old said: ‘We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.
‘The same people who run from the British and American bombs put at the back of the van right now. And they are about to be deported.
‘And it’s on Eid you know… the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.’
Mr Asif, who left Afghanistan as a refugee himself in 2000, said the atmosphere amongst the protesters is peaceful.
Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, wrote: ‘Not close to the details on this but this is shocking, disgraceful and racist if people are raided by enforcement officers amidst the pandemic on the day of #Eid.’
Lotte, an artist and member of the Scottish tenants union Living Rent, lives on a street nearby and joined the protest when she saw a small group outside the property on Kenmure Street at 10am on Thursday.
The 26-year-old said: ‘I’d like to express my utter disgust at the brutal removal of my neighbours from their home.
‘It is an awful thing to do on any day, but today being Eid makes it 10 times worse. I hope they will let our neighbours go.
‘Police are surrounding the Home Office van… they are refusing to answer questions about whether they have access to legal representation.
‘They claim that they don’t know anything about the deportation and are just ‘protecting the Home Office’.’
Protesters hold up placards reading ‘migrants and refugees welcome here’ as they block an immigration enforcement van
Protesters block a UK Home Office van to stop it from leaving Kenmure Street in First Minister Ms Sturgeon’s constituency
Police officers stood in a row in front of the immigration enforcement van today. Mr Asif, who left Afghanistan as a refugee himself in 2000, said the atmosphere amongst the protesters is peaceful
A crowd of people gathered earlier today in Kenmure Street, Glasgow. A police spokesman said: ‘A number of protesters are now at the location. Officers are at the scene and inquiries are continuing’