These Walls Must Fall campaigners in Manchester respond to the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into immigration detention, to which they submitted evidence.
We are a group of Manchester These Walls Must Fall campaigners. These Walls Must Fall is a campaign against immigration detention, and our goal is to end immigration detention completely. All of us are Manchester residents affected by the issue of detention.
We submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into immigration detention, which was prompted by the exposure of appalling physical and verbal abuse by staff of people held at Brook House detention centre in 2017. So we were pleased to see that the Inquiry’s report, released in April recognised ‘serious problems with almost every element of the immigration detention system’.
But what exactly did the Home Affairs Committee say, and what do we think about it?
Home Affairs Committee: ‘We urge the Government to bring an end to indefinite immigration detention and to implement a maximum 28-day time limit with immediate effect.’
We want to end detention completely, but a time limit is the first step towards our goal. When you’re outside detention you can contact your solicitor, your friends and your family
However, we don’t want them to detain people for 28 days and fast-track deportation. A time limit needs to be implemented fairly, and properly – not just used to fast-track people out of the country.
Home Affairs Committee: ‘We are… concerned about the fact that more than half of the people being detained in the year to December 2018 were simply released again, raising important questions over whether the power to detain is being used appropriately’
Clearly the power to detain is not being used appropriately. When someone is detained and then released back into the community, it means their detention was totally pointless . And more importantly, the person will never be the same again. Some part of them will be different forever. You go into detention sane – now you’re insane.
Home Affairs Committee: The Home Office should ‘introduce a thorough, face-to-face pre-detention screening process to facilitate the disclosure of vulnerability’
We don’t think screening solves the issue – detention should just be shut down. No matter if you don’t have depression, when you go in you get depression. As we said in our original submission: everyone in detention is vulnerable, and screening will not change this. We don’t want anyone to go to detention centres.
Home Affairs Committee: We recommend that [the Home Office] expands the use of community based ATDs (Alternatives to Detention’
We support alternatives in the community. But it depends what the alternatives are. Not people reporting every day. Living in the community means living in your own home, getting legal advice and submitting your immigration case. Living a normal life.
So what next?
As campaigners, this report makes us feel like things are going in the right direction – that there’s going to be some big change. What we want to know now is: what happens next? How is the Home Affairs Committee going to make sure that this report makes a difference? MPs need to get it to parliament and change the law.