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Welcome to Waltham Forest: protest against immigrant checks
A group opposing spot checks to identify illegal immigrants is holding a protest tonight.
The Walthamstow Migrants' Action Group (WMAG) will be holding balloons with the logo ‘Welcome to Waltham Forest’ outside Walthamstow Central station between 5pm and 7pm.
The station is where the majority of checks are said to take place.
Members of WMAG, based in St Alban’s Road, Walthamstow, will be leafleting to raise awareness of the checks, carried out by immigration officers, which they claim have increased recently.
Chairman Shaukat Khan said he is concerned that the checks, which invlove officers asking people leaving the station to provide proof they have the right to live in the UK, are undoing some of the hard work to bring different communities together in the borough.
“We have worked for years to create better community relationships in Waltham Forest and such actions are very unhelpful,” he said.
Dr Khan said the practice is unacceptable as it is creating fear and resentment in minority communities.“
Dr Kahn said: “It reminds me of the 50s and 60s, when people were stopped in the street. It creates a fear and we don’t want a repeat of those experiences.”
Rita Chadha, CEO of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London, said: “From our case work service we do believe there has been an increase in spot checks in Waltham Forest. We are getting more people who are concerned coming to us.”
Mrs Chadha suspects immigration officers are using racial profiling to stop people.
She said: “You can’t tell just by looking at somebody their immigration status. They are targeting ethnic minorities, who often have British Passports.
A Home Office spokesman said this is not the case and that these kind of street operations are “intelligence-led.”
He said: “We are clear our staff must not engage a person on the basis of their appearance, race, colour, ethnic origin or nationality.
“Our migrant communities are a fundamental part of who we are and Britain is a richer and stronger society because of them, but it is only right we take action to remove people who have no right to be in this country.”
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