Anger at dawn raids forces rethink on asylum
ASYLUM cases filed in Scotland could be processed here under plans to be discussed between the First Minister and Home Office this week after a public furore over dawn raids.
Jack McConnell will meet Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, tomorrow to consider an overhaul of the way asylum claims are dealt with.
While the Scottish Executive stressed it was not pushing for more powers over asylum or immigration policy, reforms of the protocols will be discussed.
The way dawn raids - instigated by officials in London - have been conducted in Glasgow, where families have been forcibly removed from their homes, have alarmed politicians and sparked public outrage.
Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, welcomed the prospect of reform.
"Asylum might be reserved but our consciences are not," she said.
"We hope the First Minister moves from urgent talks - again - with the Home Secretary, to urgent action to stop the practice of dawn raids and stand up for people that want to live, work and contribute to Scotland, yet have suffered every humiliation by the UK asylum policies in their efforts to remain here.
"There was growing anger among ordinary Scots over dawn raids and hundreds of asylum families had been waiting for a long time, some as much as six years.
"Westminster is barbarically sending back Scotland's future lifeblood; the people that are prepared to stay, work, contribute and live here."
Protests against dawn raids will take place in Glasgow and Edinburgh tomorrow.
Mr Byrne met Scottish Labour MPs last night to discuss potential reforms and he indicated that decision-making could be handed to officials in Scotland - reports that were being played down by the Scottish Executive.
Ian Davidson, Labour MP for Glasgow South West, who attended the meeting, said that Scotland could have devolved the administration of decision-making, but he defended the policy of dawn raids.
"We were pressing very strongly that we should speed up the process because what we regard as unacceptable is leaving people in limbo for long periods of time, with uncertainty over the decision," he said.
"We accept that dawn raids are undesirable but the difficulty is finding an alternative."
Voluntary returns, where failed applicants are offered 2,000 to return home, have had a poor take-up.
Cases of people who had been turned away in England but moved to Scotland to try again had to be stopped, he said.
The MP defended raids taking place at 7am, which is deemed the best time to find families together, though he admitted the system was not perfect.
"If somebody has got an alternative, we are perfectly willing to listen to them."
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said there would be discussions on processing applications from Scotland in Scotland, but added: "I don't think anybody has been talking about more powers to deal with this."
Mr McConnell will push for a senior social worker to be present at dawn raids.
Scottish ministers powerless to act
DAWN raids targeting failed asylum-seekers earmarked for removal from Britain have caused widespread concern in Scotland, but Scottish ministers have been powerless to act.
Control of the immigration system is reserved to Westminster, meaning the Executive has mostly had to spectate on a string of controversial operations by Home Office officials, most of them in the west of Scotland.
This month, Cem Coban, (pictured) 36, a Kurdish asylum-seeker, threatened to jump from the balcony of his 20th-floor flat in Glasgow after immigration officials arrived to remove the family. Mr Coban, his wife, their son, 14, and daughter, three, were eventually deported.
On 3 October, Home Office officials had to abandon an attempt to pick up the Uzuns, a Turkish family living in Scotstoun, Glasgow, after a street protest by neighbours.
According to the pressure group Positive Action in Housing, there are 10,500 asylum-seekers in Glasgow - the largest concentration outside London - with 2,000 a year scheduled to come for the next three years.
The first group of asylum-seekers arrived in Glasgow in 2000 and tension was not far behind. In 2001, Firsat Dag, 25, a Kurdish refugee, was stabbed to death close to his home in Sighthill.
A few days later, Davoud Rasul Naseri, 22, an Iranian, was knifed in the same area.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west