We are now in the final stages of the Immigration Bill. There are a lot of negative changes in this bill, however amendments from the Lords allow the possibility for a silver lining.
The Dubs amendment allowing for the resettlement of 3000 unaccompanied young people was initially rejected, but public pressure has led to a u-turn.
Lords amendment 84 would bring in a time limit on immigration detention, ask your MP to vote in favor ending indefinite detention.
There’s a draft letter below, please personalise it and remember to include your name and address. Find your MP here http://www.theyworkforyou.com/
“Dear ……. MP,
I am writing to you because we are now in the final stages of the Immigration Bill. In these final stages there is an opportunity to mitigate a grave injustice which our country perpetrates far too often against people who have been convicted of no crime and who are frequently individuals who have fled to the UK in seek of refuge because of the persecution and danger they face in their country of origin. That injustice is the indefinite detention of many people with irregular immigration status.
The Government itself accepts that far too many people are detained. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration in their joint report into the use of immigration detention found in 2015 that “Detention is currently used disproportionately frequently, resulting in too many instances of detention” and recommended both a 28-day limit on how long individual may be held in detention and the use of community-based alternatives. The Shaw Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons drew particular attention to the effects on the mental health of vulnerable persons of both the duration of detention and the uncertainty of about when, if ever, they will be released.
Here in Bristol, Bristol Refugee Rights work on a daily basis with many refugees and asylum-seekers who have gone through the bitter experience of detention. At an event on Human Rights Day in 2014 members of BRR shared their testimony of what it was like, of the toll taken on them by being detained when they had done nothing wrong (in fact, many have subsequently been given asylum) and of the terrible effect of not knowing whether they would be released the next day, the next week or the next year.
Migrant’s rights groups tend to agree that immigration detention be abolished altogether as an instrument of policy and will continue to campaign to this end. But meanwhile, many of the harms and injustices of the system could at least be mitigated by a proper system of regulation and judicial oversight and by a limit on the time that any individual could be held. I therefore urge you to support Lords Amendment 84 to the Immigration Bill which would introduce automatic judicial oversight of immigration detention for the first time and would require the Home Secretary to gain the permission of the First Tier Tribunal if she wanted to detain an individual for immigration purposes for longer than 28 days.