A Scottish MSP has written to UK Home Secretary Theresa May demanding that a campaign to intimidate asylum seekers with inflammatory posters in UKBA offices should cease immediately.
The poster campaign - piloted by the UKBA centre in Brand Street, Glasgow and at the UKBA London offices - uses leaflets and posters with slogans such as “Go Home” plastered across walls and seats, encouraging readers to “ask about going home”.
The idea is to strike fear into the mids of asylum seekers waiting to have their applications or appeals attended to.
The campaign has been widely condemned. Yesterday the Herald newspaper in Scotland reported that one young asylum seeker burst into tears when he saw the message about going home to see his friends and family again. He had no idea if his family are alive or dead.
The added irony, critics say, is that the whole point of seeking asylum or refugee status is that you cannot go home, because of danger or threat.
"It really does show that the UKBA and the UK government haven't got a clue about the realities people face in often desperate situations, and that they simply do not care," one asylum support worker told Ekklesia.
After lodging a motion in the Scottish Parliament, James Dornan MSP is now writing to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, highlighting the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and pointing out that this tactic only fans the flames of prejudice and demanding she condemn it and end the scheme at once.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) parliamentarian explained: “I am writing to Home Secretary Theresa May to find out if she thinks this type of manipulative messaging to people in very difficult situations is appropriate or not.
"Did she authorise this campaign? And if not, does she approve of it? And will she commit to ending the use of this inflammatory language immediately?
“We only have to look at the terrible events in the Middle East right now to see what ‘home’ can be like for some of these people. There upwards of 1300 Syrian asylum seekers in the UK – undoubtedly including some in Glasgow – does the Westminster Government really think it is appropriate to be telling people like them that it is “easy” to “go home”?
“There is no room for this type of abhorrent xenophobic campaign which will only serve to make already vulnerable people feel unwelcome and fans the flames of racial bigotry.
“The UKBA clearly has absolutely no idea about how modern Scotland treats vulnerable people – regardless of where they are from – their campaign in Brand Street must stop immediately.
“I strongly condemn this poster campaign by the UKBA and urge them to reconsider this so-called pilot and remove their extreme tactics from Scotland,” said Mr Dornan.
The initiative is intended to attract cross-party support.