Priti Patel has vowed to press ahead with the forced removal of migrants despite calls from Scottish politicians to abandon the practice in the wake of the Glasgow demonstration that saw two men released from a Home Office van.
Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev were released from Border Force detention two weeks ago after a community protest on Kenmure Street in the city.
Large crowds swarmed an immigration van and chanted “let them go, they are our neighbours” for hours until police released the pair on public safety grounds.
Patel attacked calls from Nicola Sturgeon and others to abandon the so-called dawn raids which took place in the First Minister’s constituency during the Islamic festival of Eid.
Speaking on Sky News, Patel claimed the concerns raised amounted to the SNP wanting to abandon immigration controls.
She said: “It is a sorry state of affairs that we see the nationalists in Scotland basically trying thwart the safety and security of the British public but also trying to prevent the British government from removing those with no legal basis to be in the United Kingdom.”
She added: “When it comes to the nationalists in Scotland they would much rather have an immigration policy of open borders, no checks when it comes to criminals coming to the UK and no border controls.”
“I think actually her comments also reflect the nationalist position when it comes to removing people that have no legal basis to be in the UK. This has nothing to do with with Eid at all immigration enforcement are absolutely doing their job in terms of removing people with no legal basis the UK.”
Confronted by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on whether she would now change the approach in light of the political outrage over the raid, the Home Secretary refused to budge.
Patel said: “The government has a responsibility to remove people from the United Kingdom with no legal status to be here and that includes some of the individuals from national offences and people that have brought great harm to our country.
“So, we will continue to enforce our laws and legislation to remove those with no legal basis for being the UK.”
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SNP Immigration spokeswoman Anne McLaughlin MP said: “Priti Patel demonstrated perfectly how the Tory government’s callous immigration policies stand in direct contrast with the open and welcoming environment that would be presented by an independent Scotland as a member of the European Union.
“Scotland resoundingly rejected the dawn raids of the Home Office last week, we will continue to urge the Tories to bring these to an end.
McLaughlin added: “We cannot trust the Tories with Scotland’s immigration policy, it is not fit for purpose for the needs of Scotland. ”
Despite a major backlash and public condemnation for the Eid raid, a Home Office source has claimed that Singh, a chef, and Sehdev, a mechanic, will still be deported.
But Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, questioned whether due process had been followed in the Glasgow case and said the forced detention should be abandoned.
He said: “The whole method of immigration enforcement by the use of dawn raids is something that government has to seriously reconsider, because that particular method of enforcement isn’t something clearly that’s building confidence right across the community.”