A GROUP of protesters has gathered in Glasgow to stop a potential deportation raid of refugees and asylum seekers and to show “solidarity to their neighbours”.

Dozens of activists and politicians gathered at Denmilne Street, in Easter House, Glasgow, after they were tipped online that there was a planned deportation raid by the Home Office.

There were also reports of another potential raid in Perth earlier in the morning, which the Home Office has declined to confirm. 

Dozens of protesters descended on Denmilne Street to oppose the threat of asylum seekers being deported.

However, after a few hours, there were no signs of anyone from the Home Office being in the area.

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Anne McLaughlin, MP for Glasgow North East, said that Glaswegians are not going to take a possible deportation lying down and she believes the Home Office is testing to see if Kenmure Street was just a one-off.

She said: “We came here to offer solidarity, advice and to try and stop it.

“Within 20 minutes of that tweet, there were about 20 people here which is good as Easterhouse is really difficult to get to, it’s not close to the city centre, so I think that says a lot.

“Obviously more people came later so it is an indication of the fact that Glasgow is not going to take it, we’re not going to take it lying down, or we might if we have to lie down in front of the vans.”

She added: “Kenmure Street was kind of an exemplar, but it wasn’t the only time that it had happened, it wasn’t a one-off.

“I think the Home Office possibly ... you know, the cynical part of me wonders, who made that call to say this was happening today?

“The cynical part of me wonders if the Home Office may be trying to find out if people will actually come out or if Kenmure Street was just a one-off, but it wasn’t a one-off."

The National: Groups of protesters showed up to stop the potential deportation of refugees

Fears of raids have increased in local communities following reports that asylum seekers are set to be detained this week in a surprise Home Office operation in preparation for deportation to Rwanda.

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The officials plan to hold refugees who turn up for routine meetings at immigration service offices and will also pick up people nationwide in a two-week exercise.

The people detained are then to be immediately transferred to detention centres which have already been prepared for the operation.

They are held in these detention centres to then be put on later flights to Rwanda.

The SNP MP for Glasgow East, David Linden, has said that this policy does not respect people’s humanity and is not in line with the people of Scotland’s values.

Explaining the decision to protest, he said: “Firstly, and most importantly, to stand up for humanity and defend constituents who we understand could be at the risk of being deported to Rwanda by the Home Office.

“One thing is clear, the Home Office does not respect people's basic humanity and I’m here to make sure when or if the Home Office turn up, they will feel the full force of opposition from not just the East End of Glasgow but across the whole of Scottish politics.

“Glasgow has a very strong and very proud history of standing up for asylum seekers and refugees and that is always going to be the case.

“We are a nation of immigrants and frankly Scotland’s problem has never been immigration.

"The plans to deport people to Rwanda are just not in line with our values.

"I think the turnout at very short notice suggests that people are voting with their feet on that.”

It has also been reported that Police Scotland has subsequently been put on alert because of the high risks of street protests in attempts to stop detentions.

Pro-refugee campaigners have blocked deportation raids in Scotland before via mass protests, like Kenmure Street in Glasgow in May 2021, and showed up again on Denmilne Street.

One activist, David Hendry from Stand Up To Racism, said he showed up to protest as he volunteers to befriend refugees in Erskine and was appalled at the idea of others being deported to Rwanda.

He said: “These are normal everyday people, who have probably come out of the worst environments they have ever been in, and they just want to have a good life.”

He added: “What the Tory Government has been doing with this Rwanda plan is just absolutely inhumane and I’m worried some of the people I have met in the hotel will be sent somewhere else.

“They probably won’t get a welcoming environment when they go to Rwanda or wherever the Tories want to take them to.

“We’ll just keep showing up to say this is not on.”

The National: David Hendry (left) with activists from Stand Up To Racism who made the trip to Easterhouse to show their solidarity 

It is believed the launch of the Home Office operation has been timed to coincide with Thursday’s local council elections in England.

It was also believed among activists that the potential raids in Glasgow and Perth were opportunistic with all eyes firmly set on Bute House in Edinburgh.

Councillor Allan Casey, Glasgow City Council's convener for homelessness and eviction service, said the turnout in protesters goes to show how Glaswegians will protect their neighbours against the threat of deportation.

He said: “We need to show our defiance and defence against our neighbours getting evicted from our homes in our city.

"There is no sign of anything happening thankfully, but this won’t be the end and I think as Glaswegians, we need to remain vigilant and ready to show our disgust to the Home Office for this crude practice.

“It took 20 minutes for a good group of folks to come here and oppose the Home Office’s position and this will happen anywhere they come in the city.

“We showed that at Kenmure Street, just a wee while ago – that Glasgow will mobilise against this Home Office in terms of the cruel policies that they are enacting on our neighbours.

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“We will absolutely defy that here in this city and we will protest and mobilise as quickly as we can to try and stop our neighbours from being deported.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Now that the Safety of Rwanda Act has passed and our treaty with Rwanda has been ratified, Government is entering the final phase of operationalising this landmark policy to tackle illegal migration and stop the boats.

“At some stage inevitably this will include detaining people in preparation for the first flight, which is set to take off to Rwanda in 10 to 12 weeks.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further on operational activity.”