One gets the impression that the US is the only country holding migrants in what amounts to jail. But a snapshot by The Guardian of 200 migrants held in seven British detention centres found more than half were suicidal, seriously ill, or. victims of torture, with 84% not told when they would be deported. Almost half the detainees had not committed a crime but had been detained for an average of four months. The situation appears to contravene UN human rights guidance that immigration detention should be a last resort.
The UK government detains just over 25,000 people every year pending deportation, at an annual cost of £108m. But fewer than 50% of those held in removal centres actually end up being deported, and most have lived in the UK for five years or more. A handful of private firms are paid hundreds of millions of pounds to run the detention centres, making up to 40% profit. The UK is the only European country without a limit on how long these people can be detained. The Labour shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: “This is a scandalously inhumane and unjustifiable system.” James Price from the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “A bureaucratic and lengthy wait [for deportation] is bad for the welfare of those detained, as well as costing taxpayers and meaning less money for essential services.” A Home Office spokesman said the home secretary, Sajid Javid, wanted to “go further and faster” in finding alternatives to detention. (Guardian 11 Oct 2018),
Writing as someone who has migrated to another country (and am now a dual citizen), and made sure I did everything legally and above-board, I must say that entering illegally and hoping to get away with it, against the law, is something hard to support. It’s illegal, dammit, even if you are escaping a dangerous and corrupt country.
Having said that, the way illegal migrants are treated in camps and for-profit detention centres is another matter. I will comment on that tomorrow.