By Leila Zerai
Campaigners have picketed Becket House, an immigration enforcement centre near London Bridge, in protest against the treatment of migrants.
Campaign groups Migrants Organise, These Walls Must Fall and SOAS Detainee Support were protesting against the requirement for immigration applicants to attend Home Office reporting centres, whilst waiting for a decision on their applications.
The demonstrators tried to hand-deliver a letter of demands from migrants to the managers of the Becket House immigration reporting centre, Alex Legg and Graham Blackwood.
But the managers refused to receive or hear the letter. Campaigners then blocked the entrance to the reporting centre with police tape.
The campaign groups claim that migrants risk being taken into detention when attending the centres, and that racism, bullying and intimidation was rife at the reporting centres.
They say that the reporting requirements created anxiety and stress for migrants and were an unnecessary form of control and harassment.
One campaigner said “[reporting is] stressful. You have to queue for hours and they [the staff] are also often very rude to you.
“I don’t have enough to afford the transport cost there because I am not allowed to work, and they don’t give any help.”
This comes as MPs hold a second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill in parliament, which the campaigners say will reduce the rights of asylum seekers.
Speaking in front of Becket House, Maymuna Osman of Migrants Organise said: “We call on the Reporting Centre management, Alex Legg and Graham Blackwood, at Becket House to end mandatory reporting for migrants and make representations to the Home Office for this practice to be scrapped in totality.
“We call on the Home Office to stop using racist raid vans in our city,” she continued. “We demand an end to the hostile environment immigration policies and a halt to Priti Patel’s so-called ‘new plan for immigration.’”
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