North West Migrants Forum

Forum adds voice to concerns over Garda ‘immigration checks’ in Dublin

Above: A Garda car on patrol. Numerous organisations have expressed concerns at police plans to conduct immigration checks as part of a crackdown on crime in Dublin. Photo source: Wikipedia

THE North West Migrants Forum has added its voice to concerns over Garda plans to conduct immigration checks as part of a crime crackdown in Dublin.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris say the checks will be carried out as part of a wider bid to tackle anti-social activity in the Irish capital.

Under the proposals, gardaí say there will be “planned days of high impact visibility in the city centre involving checkpoints; execution of warrants; service of summonses; intelligence-led searches and arrests; immigration checks and enforcement of road traffic offences”.

But the North West Migrants Forum has joined other similar organisations in calling for clarity around what exactly “immigration checks” mean.

Forum Director Lilian Seenoi Barr said that no one was disagreeing with plans to introduce greater safety measures to the city. But safety is as equally important for immigrants as it is for everyone else.

“Our main concern would that introducing these so-called ‘immigration checks’ could lead to individuals being singled out for unjustified and disproportionate police attention simply because of the colour of their skin.

“Of course gardaí are entitled to ask people for documents. But there has to be just cause for doing so. And that ‘just cause’ needs to be explained clearly. We have heard on many occasions how such checks are ‘intelligence-led’. Well let us see that intelligence. Let us see the evidence that satisfies us that there is no racial bias when it comes to policing.”

Director of the North West Migrants Forum Lilian Seenoi Barr says there is a danger the crime crackdown could descend into an immigration issue – something that doesn’t need to happen.

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said the checks performed under Operation Citizen are no different to immigration checks carried out in the normal course of events.

But Mrs Barr added that by singling out a section of society for checks, the danger was that the focus on street crime could descend into an immigration issue.

“Unfortunately by putting ‘immigration checks’ in the same bracket as words like warrants, summonses, arrests and enforcement, that is exactly what An Garda Síochána is in danger of doing, turning this into something it doesn’t need to be.

“The bottom line here is that this is about tackling crime, it is not about immigration. Everyone – women, tourists, workers – should be able to move around without fear. But by the same token, everyone should be able to go about their daily lives without being targeted by police officers operating under some misguided narrative that migrants are more likely to be criminals.

“Racial profiling is real and has been happening for a long number of years before this new directive came down from Drew Harris’s office. We have members who have experienced it first-hand.

“Racial profiling is something we continue to campaign against. Sadly these checks have the potential to undermine the progress that has been made to date.”