A grass-roots campaign against the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers will enact the arrest of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus on Saturday.
The focus of the action will be Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedford, which has been at the centre of controversy after a fire in February last year.
The gospel of Matthew records that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take Jesus and his mother to Egypt to avoid the actions of Herod who orders the massacre of all children in Bethlehem under the age of two.
Campaigners point out that "the picture painted by Matthew is one of chaos, a terrifying scene where refugees flee across the border clutching their children and what few possessions they have managed to save. More like Afghanistan today than the traditional nativity scene, his world, like ours, was one in which tyrants and their soldiers can tear apart the lives of innocent civilians in random acts of cruelty."
But campaigners also point out that if Jesus had come to Britain today, he would probably be arrested and detained at a centre such as Yarl's Wood.
Following their arrest on Saturday, the Holy Family will be escorted by uniformed officers to the detention centre to be searched, fingerprinted and photographed.
In a statement the campaign said; "We are not intending to make a comment on, or to undermine, the Christmas story. But we are using it as a background to illustrate the injustices of the British asylum system and detention policy."
People are being invited to come and watch the arrest so they can see how refugees are currently treated.
According to the latest Home Office statistics, there were 26,585 asylum applications in the last 6 months. On the 28th June there were 1,690 people in immigration detention, 80% of which were asylum seekers.
A 14 point check-list is used to decide who gets detained, but in many cases campaigners say that the process is arbitrary.
A report by Sir David Ramsbotham, Chief Inspector of Prisons, found that even Immigration Officers themselves thought there was ìlittle or no consistency or logicî in who gets detained. 21% are detained for more than 4 months and there are cases where some have been detained for up to 3 years.
When Yarl's Wood detention centre opened, the Immigration Minister said it would be for "failed asylum seekersî who would be held for ì24 hours or soî prior to removal. However only 46 out of 385 detainees have had an effective removal notice ñ many detainees had not come to the end of their asylum claim, some hadnít even had an initial interview, and many were later granted asylum.