12 June 2020 — Corporate Watch
UK deportations 2020: how BA, Easyjet and other airlines collaborate with the border regime
On 30 April, with UK airports largely deserted during the Covid-19 lockdown, a Titan Airways charter plane took off from Stansted airport deporting 35 people to Poland. This was just a few days after reports of charter flights in the other direction, as UK farmers hired planes to bring in Eastern European fruit-pickers.
The Home Office’s deportation machine has slowed during the corona crisis. Hundreds of people have been released from detention centres, with detainee numbers dropping by 900 over the first four months of 2020. But the Poland flight signals that the Home Office motor is still ticking over. As in other areas, perhaps the big question now is whether things will simply go “back to normal” as the lockdown lifts. Or can anti-deportation campaigners use this window to push for a more radical shift?
Our new in depth report gives an overview of the current state of UK deportations, focusing on scheduled flights run by major airlines. Drawing on information gathered by campaigners including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, it explains how the Home Office and its private sector collaborators work together as a “deportation machine” held together by a range of contractual relationships.
Rough-sleeper raids: how homeless charity deportations carry on rebranded
In December 2017 the High Court ruled the Home Office’s policy of detaining and deporting EU rough sleepers unlawful. The Gureckis judgment, named after a rough sleeper affected by the policy, was the result of more than a year of research, litigation and campaigning by the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) and activists from North East London Migrant Action (NELMA).
Earlier that year, a Corporate Watch report had exposed how local councils and homelessness charities were collaborating with the Home Office to arrest, detain and deport European nationals found sleeping rough in London.
As it becomes clear that the border regime has made it impossible for the government to ‘bring in’ all rough sleepers during the corona crisis, evidence published here for the first time suggests that the government, still working with its charity and council ‘partners’, is developing new and subtler strategies to remove homeless migrants from the UK.
This report, based on leaked documents and Freedom of Information disclosures, reveals that local authorities and charities are continuing to collaborate with the Home Office to enforce immigration controls.