Asylum seekers in Sheffield call for end to 'enforced cruelty' in moving letter
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The letter will be handed in at the Home Office’s Vulcan House offices beside the River Don as part of a day of action this Friday, June 18, to mark Sheffield Refugee Week.
Campaigners will gather outside the building that morning to picket workers as they arrive from 8.30am, before staging a lunchtime ‘noise protest’ at 12.45pm.
The letter written by asylum seekers and other affected migrants will be presented at 4.30pm, followed by a rally from 5pm to 6.30pm.
Protesters are demonstrating against home secretary Priti Patel’s proposed new plan for immigration and the long-standing policy of mandatory immigration reporting, which requires people to attend regular appointments and opponents say leads to significant stress and anxiety.
They are also calling for an end to the use of immigration raids vans in the city, which they describe as ‘simply a form of intimidation’.
Critics claim the new plan for immigration will ‘further entrench the hostile environment’ for migrants in Britain, with plans to deport asylum seekers while they are still mounting appeals, and ‘push-back’ policies in the Channel – a tactic they say is used in the Mediterranean and has led to thousands of deaths
The protest’s organisers, which include South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG), state: “We stand in solidarity with our neighbours, friends and all those in our community set to be impacted by these abhorrent policy proposals which threaten to deepen the already inhumane conditions for many asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK.”
In-person reporting was suspended during lockdown, which critics say proved the practice is unnecessary and showed how being allowed to report by text or phone instead can massively reduce stress.
The letter, which is addressed to the manager of Vulcan House states: “We are writing to make you aware of the oppression we experience in coming to report at Vulcan House and to ask you to end this enforced cruelty.
“You may not realise the devastating effect it has on people’s mental health to be forced to travel to Vulcan House and report week after week, month after month, never knowing if you will return to the place you are living that night.
“Some of us have to travel long distances to get here; some of us have to bring our children. We are always fearful, sleepless, stressed before coming, as well as on arriving here: the uncertainty has a terrible effect on people’s mental health, not only on us as adults but on our children who have to see us fearful and anxious and who therefore feel fearful themselves.
“We would like to ask you think about the long-term harm caused to each of us as individuals as well as the long-term harm to society and waste of lives caused by the psychological torture of reporting, as well as the constant fear of arbitrary arrest and detention.”