Lawyers for 12 overstaying mainlanders say immigration authorities have vowed to deport the group on Monday, despite their involvement in a test case over their right to remain. Lawyer Rob Brook said the department had refused a last-minute application for their release from custody so the 12 could spend Lunar New Year with their families. The department had told Pam Baker, the group's lawyer, it was taking steps to return the abode seekers to the mainland by noon on Monday unless a judge ordered otherwise. Mr Brook, working on the case with Ms Baker, said they were preparing to brief barristers to lodge an application for the mainlanders' release at the High Court today. He said the department was acting unlawfully because the Court of Final Appeal ruling on mainland children granted the arrested people right of abode. 'There's no power [for the department] to detain a Hong Kong permanent resident and there's no power to remove them. It's quite unconstitutional,' Mr Brook said. Last night an Immigration Department statement confirmed the abode claimants would not be released on bail and would be removed unless a court decided otherwise, but did not specify when. Ms Baker, who previously fought for Vietnamese refugees, wrote to Director of Immigration Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong yesterday calling for the 12 detainees to be released for Lunar New Year. Otherwise, the lawyers would seek a judicial review of their detention. The detainees' two-way permits had previously been extended and they had been arrested just days after the extensions expired. One mainlander had been in Hong Kong since September 1997, Mr Brook said. Rather than allowing thousands of mainlanders claiming right of abode to stay, the Government is demanding they return home and queue with tens of thousands of others for a certificate entitling them to immigrate. The 12 mainlanders' lawyers say they will fight a test case on behalf of others who want to stay. A protest continued outside the Central Government Offices as organisers gave the names of 279 abode seekers to Democratic Party legislator Yeung Sum, who is asking authorities to make representations to mainland officials not to take action against returning overstayers. Their names were also given to the Legal Aid Department, which has approved taxpayer-funded legal assistance for six more claimants being detained. The department said 689 two-way permit holders seeking to stay had registered for legal help since the court ruling.