An Anti-Deportation Campaign involves organizing resistance to restrictive immigration legislation, and simply means making the government change their minds regarding an individual case.
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can defeat an attempt to deport someone
Guide to setting up an anti-deportation campaign (30-page guide)
How to Campaign
Campaigning involves putting your views and information to the general public, in order to influence them towards your aim, which is to stop the deportation.
You are not alone. You will find other individuals and groups who are sympathetic to, or share, your aim and will be eager to help you in your efforts.
The key to successful campaigning is building layers of support and solidarity at a local level and networking. This is campaigning, through collective action, constructing a network of sympathetic contacts in your local community and throughout the country. This will allow you to share information and expertise, and will provide moral and practical support at crucial times.
Some people facing deportation may be worried that having a public campaign could endanger them if returned to their country of origin or their relatives in their country of origin. In these circumstances you can 'campaign quietly', do not put the campaign information on the Internet or email lists, just contact people on a one to one basis.
Is a campaign necessary?
Immigration law is clearly political and is designed to stop migrants, immigrants and refugees from remaining here. The immigration appeal system is unique in giving you rights of appeal that often you cannot win in law. However, the Home Secretary has wide discretionary powers as to whether you can stay in this country or whether you have to leave.
Because you cannot always rely on the law to keep you here, it is sometimes necessary to start a campaign against deportation or removal. It is your decision - and yours only - whether or not to set up a campaign. The campaign is about building and demonstrating support for your case so that the Home Secretary will use his discretionary powers in your favour.
You may feel that your case is not suitable for a campaign. You may be concerned about the effects of publicity if you are eventually deported. There cannot be a guarantee that a campaign will succeed, but there are many people who have won only because of a campaign.
This is a "Campaigning Guide". It is a guide because there cannot be a blueprint for a perfect campaign. Each campaign is unique. It's up to you how you run the campaign. However, there are some basic principles.
How to start?
Focus your campaigning efforts on the issue. Get your facts right. It is not enough to have strong views on the subject; you must support your views with accurate up-to-date information.
Define and articulate your demands, including specific recommendations for action: for example, write to the Home Office, write to the MP, sign the petition, send a donation.
Let the facts speak, and have supporting documents whenever possible. Organise your views and information in a form that everyone can keep and refer to later. Don't exaggerate the issue. Obtain outside help from experts if necessary (lawyers, barristers, doctors, specialists and Human Rights groups). Have a clear strategy for whom you approach: individuals, faith groups, trade unions and communities.
Know the decision-making processes that apply. Timing your campaigning efforts to have the greatest impact is important, particularly if you have limited time and resources. Knowing deadlines in advance gives you time to organise a protest before actions are taken. If a government minister is going to visit your area, be there with placards and leaflets.
Use technology. Not everyone can make it to a demonstration, but nearly every one can get to a computer or a fax machine. Campaigning by e-mail and fax is very effective, as it allows you to involve people all over the country.
Keep everyone informed. The most effective way of communication is through the Internet. Each Anti-Deportation Campaign should have its own web page, with up to the minute information, details of any future events and where and when the campaign meets. Model letters and petitions (including fax numbers and addresses of where to send them) can be put on the net, so any one can download them.
And last but not least: "No one is deported till the plane takes off". Airlines are subject to public pressure and will not carry deportees if there is an organised protest at the point of departure. British Airways, and Lufthansa, on several occasions took deportees off flights after powerful public protests.
You do have the Power to Stop Deportations
You will need Courage, Persistence and Faith
There are specialist organisations, which offer free and expert legal advice and representation on all immigration matters. Some voluntary organisations such as law centres, Racial Equality Councils, trade union legal departments and Citizens Advice Bureaux have employees who specialise in immigration law. There are also private immigration lawyers.
You have the right to choose your own representative to act for you. You should never contact the Home Office on your own - always get legal advice and let your representative contact the Home Office for you. It is important that you understand the legal processes involved as well as the progress of your case: what your representative is doing and what information is being sent to the Home Office. You need to have a good working relationship with your solicitor or legal adviser.
Producing a leaflet
Your campaign should produce a leaflet that explains your case and asks for support. Ideally this should be A4 or A5 size paper. Using a photograph is very effective. The standard leaflet should contain history of residence in UK, family, employment and community links, and details of the injustice you are facing. It should also inform supporters of ways they can help: write to the Home Office, attend a public meeting or donate money to the campaign.
The leaflet must contain the Home Office reference number and the contact address and telephone details for the campaign. For safety reasons, do not use your own address or telephone number. You may wish to produce one side of the leaflet in English whilst the other side is translated into another appropriate language.
Subsequent leaflets should contain updates on future planned activities such as pickets or lobbies, and dates of future meetings as well as details of support gained and donations received. Keep supporters informed and involved.
Dealing with the media
Newspapers, radio, television and the Internet can reach thousands of people. You can get sympathetic reporting of your case by establishing close contacts with the local press, radio and television. But don't forget to also contact your trade union publication and the black and ethnic minority press as well as church or school newsletter if appropriate.
You should prepare a press release on campaign writing paper setting out the basic details of the case: who is being threatened with deportation; why the Home Office want to deport them; why this is unjust; and how you are planning to resist the deportation. It is a good idea to include a quote from the person threatened with deportation. Keep the press release short - no more than one side of A4 size paper - and include a catchy headline and contact names and telephone numbers for more information. Send the press release to a named journalist or for the attention of the news desk. Be prepared to be interviewed, but be careful how you present your case and only tell the journalist what you want them to print.
Does a campaign need a formal structure?
There should be a strong campaign committee to organise activities and ensure that tasks are shared and decisions are carried out. Nominate a chair, secretary and treasurer so that people understand who has responsibility, for example, for calling meetings or keeping records.
It is vitally important that the campaign is open to anyone who wants to attend campaign meetings, and who shares the commitment to fight against the deportation.
In this way the campaign will bring together people with widely different political priorities and perspectives and you will not exclude or discourage others from joining.
Campaign meetings are the place to plan activities and therefore should deal with items such as writing and distributing campaign publicity, contacting the media, approaching individuals and organisations for support, involving a celebrity or organising a demonstration.
Meetings should be held regularly and in an accessible venue.
The first step to winning supporters is public awareness of your individual case. The essential campaigning tools are leaflets, petitions, posters, banners, placards and displays. You can also use electronic media such as web sites, mailing lists and e-mail.
What kind of campaign?
The main aim of the campaign must be to keep the person or family threatened with deportation in the UK. Identify the issue and give the campaign a name e.g. "Lante Allotey Must Stay" or "Save the Sharma Family from Deportation". Campaigns are by definition political. This is because they are a response to the 'Unjust and inhumane' nature of immigration laws. Some campaigns or support groups are more political than others, but it is vital that the interests of the deportee come first. The more people who support the campaign, the more effective it will be.
Who should run the campaign?
To be effective, a campaign or support group is essential. However, it is the family/individual's campaign and they must be centrally involved in all decision- making. Nothing should be done without their agreement. Decide on the base for your campaign support e.g. school, religious organisation, trade union branch. Develop links with key people. Keep them informed about what is happening. You should involve or keep in close contact with your legal representative to make sure that legal work is tied in with campaign activity. Your lawyer should see the campaign material and ensure that there is nothing in it that contradicts any statements made in legal representations.
Campaigning is all about winning public support for your case and demonstrating that support so that the Home Secretary will be persuaded to make a decision in your favour.
Petitions are an easy and practical way of demonstrating the number of supporters. They provide you with an opportunity to approach people to ask for support. It is a good idea to have ten lines for signatures as this makes them easier to count. Have columns for name, address and donations as this can help to provide funds to run the campaign. Include a return postal address where supporters can post signed petition sheets to. Include your Home Office reference number. Presenting completed petition sheets to your MP can also offer a photo opportunity that will interest the media.
Public meetings, lobbying, pickets and demonstrations are all examples of tactics which can be used to build support, and they will be more effective if they coincide with events in your case, for example, an appeal hearing. You can also take advantage of other events, for example having a stall at an anti-racist festival. Always remember to take the campaign banner to all events. You can also produce display boards with photographs, information and newspaper cuttings for use at meetings and exhibitions.
You can also organise more unusual events to attract more interest and support. Use your imagination and plan a street party, or a sponsored fun run.
Dealing with emergencies
If you wait until all the legal processes have been completed before you start your campaign, it may be too late to achieve victory.
However campaigning should not stop if emergency situations arise such as arrest and detention. There have been instances of successful campaigns that started after removal directions have been issued. There have also been actions at airports that have stopped deportations.
1. Seek legal advice immediately.
2. Set up a Campaign committee
Nominate a coordinator, minute taker, publicity officer, media spokesperson, and treasurer.
3. Publicity material
Print leaflets with photograph, giving background details i.e. history of deportee.
4. Regular Campaign bulletin
Give current update of the Campaign i.e. forthcoming events, rallies, leafleting etc to maintain interest.
5. Petition sheets
Ensure petition sheets are of standard size i.e. space for ten signatures on one side of A4 paper with photograph, brief background details and contact name, postal address, phone number, and your home office reference number.
6. Local councillors support
Write to them, go to their surgeries, and use their names on publicity material if they support your campaign.
7. Support from MPs
Get support of your MP initially, then other MPs. Write to them, go to their surgeries, use their names on publicity material if they support your campaign.
Facing immanent removal/deportation - involving your MP
8. Trade union support
Get your own branch to support the Campaign. If there are members of different trade unions involved in the Campaign, get their support.
9. Model resolution
Draw up a model resolution and circulate to all trade unions and community groups.
10. Affiliation fee
Have a standard fee for organisations, a separate fee for waged and unwaged individuals.
11. Update list of affiliated groups and individuals
Ensure affiliates are acknowledged on publicity material and bulletins at regular intervals.
12. Regular meetings
Hold regular meetings. Whenever possible ensure meeting places have disabled access. Be flexible about times and venues.
13. Link up with other organisations
Make links with other anti-deportation Campaigns, community groups, religious groups, women's groups and anti-racist groups etc.
14. Delegates attendance at meetings
Ask trade unions and other organisations to send a delegate to meetings who can act as a contact person for that organisation.
15. Mailing list
Ensure this is updated on a regular basis.
16. Campaign speakers
Organise Campaign members to speak at trade union, political party and community group meetings.
17. Campaign banner
Have a banner made, so that the Campaign is publicised at rallies, lobbies, public meetings and demonstrations.
18. Public meetings/rallies
Organise public meetings in your area to gain community involvement.
19. Letter writing campaign
Use the monthly publication of your trade union to start a letter writing campaign.
20. Home Office case number
Ensure that your case number appears on all publicity material and correspondence.
21. Appeal hearings
Mobilise support for hearings; get organisations to bring their banners.
Lack of Legal Representation
If the person facing deportation is due in court and has not been able to find a legal representative the following action is suggested:
The person facing deportation should write to the Court and say that they have been unable to obtain legal representation in spite of extensive inquiries in the local area. They should write in their own language if necessary, and ask for a short adjournment until a legal representative can be found.
Making a complaint
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) is committed to raising the standard of immigration advice. We know that the majority of advisers are acting in good faith and in the best interests of their clients. But we need to ensure that examples of bad practice are brought into the open and any necessary action taken. The Immigration Services Commissioner has therefore published the OISC Complaints Scheme to help achieve that result.