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Immigration raids on care homes continued throughout the pandemic

A freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed that the Home Office continued to carry out immigration raids on care homes throughout the pandemic, including during lockdowns.

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    Home office raided care homes in lockdown

    Data from a Freedom of Information request has shown that the Home Office continued to carry out immigration raids in care homes throughout the pandemic.

    The data revealed that on average, the Home Office carried out a raid every 3 months in the 21 months up to September 2021, this included at least 1 raid in January during a national lockdown.

    Out of the seven raids that were carried out, six resulted in arrests, between 1 and 5 resulted in the apprehended person being detained.

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    Hostile Environment policy over public health

    The revelation has led to concern that the Home Office were prioritizing their hostile environment policies over public health.

    Karolina Gerlich, chief executive of the Care Workers Charity said that the raids were unnecessary and put vulnerable individuals’ health at risk, she said:

    “We don’t believe it’s the right thing to do at any time. We believe there are better systems in place that could be used than raiding care homes. But to do it during Covid, during lockdown and potentially bringing the virus into care homes is very irresponsible and insensitive to the situation,”

    The data was obtained by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) who have also critised the Home Office’s actions. Their campaigns officer, Mary Atkinson, said:

     “These are places where elderly people were barred from seeing or hugging loved ones for months on end, and many still have stringent contact rules in place. But apparently the Home Office saw fit to barge into these homes and arrest carers looking after vulnerable people…They reveal a government that is willing to pursue its hostile environment at all costs, instead of prioritising the public’s care and wellbeing.”

    Response from the Home Office

    The Home Office has claimed that their immigration officers give due consideration to establishing contact with the care home providers and work with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and local authorities before undertaking raids.

    Defending their raids on care homes, a Home Office spokesperson said:

    “The government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes by removing those with no right to be in the UK…Illegal working in the care sector is one of the Home Office’s main illegal working concerns. Protecting vulnerable people is a key part of our responsibility and illegal working in this sector puts vulnerable people at risk by leaving them in the care of individuals whose identity may effectively be unknown.”

    They also claimed that Covid guidance was adhered to during the raids.

    Despite this defence, previous FOI data obtained by JCWI shows that between 2015 and 2019 there were 190 raids carried out on care homes, resulting in just 37 care workers being removed from the UK, which raised questions about whether these raids are really efficient or necessary.

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