British Immigration use Racial Profiling
After ex-home secretary Charles Clarke's blunder with regard to not keeping track of released foreign prisoners, the immigration department have stepped up their activity. As with police stop and search actions, the Muslim community is to bear the brunt of it through the process of racial profiling. Here is an example of a recent raid where ordinary members of the public were held hostage by police and immigration officers.
At just after 20.00 hours on 11 May 2006 a total of 7 uniformed officers from the immigration service and police entered the premises of Chicken & Pizza Zone, a take-away restaurant in Netherfield, Milton Keynes, and whilst permitting customers of non-Asian origin to leave the premises refused the same privilege to those who looked Asian. Approximately 45 minutes passed before the first customer was permitted to leave. People's identity documents were taken and checked by mobile phone, they were not informed of any rights, they were not given access to a solicitor or to an interpreter; no paperwork was issued afterwards to confirm that a detention had taken place. In my view the law enforcement agencies clearly broke the law.
My understanding of article 130 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is that immigration may enter and search premises without a search warrant only to look for a specific individual they suspect of having broken and law and where they have reasonable cause to believe that the individual may be present there. This does not give them the right to detain and deprive of their freedom other people, especially when it becomes apparent to them from their identity papers that they are not the specific individuals sought. I cannot imagine immigration raiding a McDonalds branch and closing it down for almost an hour, nor can I imagine them holding all white-skinned people because they might be looking for an individual from Eastern Europe.
I telephoned the responsible immigration authority on 01234 821600 and asked to speak to their press officer about the "immigration raid" and was told by the switchboard operator, after taking down my details and press credentials, that she was only willing to tell me that they did not do "immigration raids" but only "enforcement visits" and that they were not prepared to talk to any media; instead a written request for information would have to be made to the home office. So much for "open government".