“Detention is a filing cabinet for human beings”: Parliamentary Meeting on Immigration Detention

Earlier today MPs and Peers held a parliamentary meeting on immigration detention, hearing from experts about the hazardous effects of detention, and why urgent and systemic change is needed.

Chaired by Paul Blomfield MP and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees, the meeting heard from organisations and individuals working directly with people affected by immigration detention.

 

Women for Refugee Women highlighted findings from their recent report ‘We are still here’ which focused on the continuing detention of vulnerable asylum seeking women, who are still being detained despite the government introducing new ‘adults at risk’ policies. Their reports showed that 85% of asylum seeking women who are detained are later released, their detention having served no purpose. Vivian, who herself has experienced detention, bravely recounted her experiences, leaving the MPs and members of public visibly shook.

 

 

Detention Action highlighted how trafficking victims are being wrongly sent to detention centres, noting the Home Office had a conflict of interest in terms of immigration enforcement and providing support for victims of trafficking.

 

 

We heard from Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group about children who grew up in the UK, but are at risk of detention. Their report entitled ‘Don’t dump me in a foreign land’ shows that they are likely to have faced trauma, and have been in care, and that most of the crimes that trigger deportations are minor, and are inextricably linked to growing up marginalised.

 

Kasonga from Freed Voices, an expert by experience group, told us how there is overwhelming consensus on introducing a time limit – political parties, the United Nations, businesses – and stressed the need for only using detention as a last resort.

 

The meeting heard from many MPs – Thangam Debbonaire, Kate Green, Paul Blomsfeld, Mohammad Yasin, Stuart McDonald – all who condemned detention and committed themselves to challenging it –  including Shadow Immigration Minister Afzal Khan, who has previously supported the These Walls Must Fall Campaign. MPs and Peers discussed the upcoming immigration bill, and opportunities to introduces amendments relating to immigration detention a priority. It was noted that if a vote on a time limit for immigration detention was held tomorrow, the government would be struggle to have it go in their favor.

The parliamentary meeting was part of the ongoing ‘Unlocking Detention’ tour, which gives a virtual tour of the UK’s immigration estate. It runs till the 22nd December, and you can follow it on the Detention Forum website and on the hashtag #Unlocked17 

 

 

 

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