by Mo Makin
The topic of discussion for this session was immigration detention. Immigration always seems to be in the News. Politicians and journalists are mostly seen questioning how much immigration the UK has? What type of immigrants are coming and where those immigrants are from? I feel that because the majority of focus on immigration concerns these issues this means that there is a lack of attention towards the problems to do with immigration detention. This is part of the reason why I found this session of the fellowship so insightful.
A major issue that was highlighted is that the current system can take away a person’s liberty for an indefinite period of time without even consulting a judge. To me this seems highly unfair. If we can afford the most heinous of criminals the services of a judge why don’t we for people whose crime may be much lesser such as, overstaying their visa?
The lack of judicial oversight could explain why more than half of the people who left detention were not removed from the country but returned to their communities. As immigration officials are not being held to account mistakes are made and consequently people suffer. It seems so futile that many people’s liberty is being taken away for the sake of deportation which itself is not often being fulfilled.
The matter of immigration detention should not just be left to policy and legal officials. As British Jews we have a vested interest in the struggles of immigrants to the UK. Not only because it is a Jewish principle is to be welcoming as for we were “foreigners in the land of Egypt” but because migration is a reoccurring theme in our very recent history. The faults with immigration detention are ones we should not and cannot ignore. We should be more involved with organisations like the Detention Forum, which not only strives for the rights of immigrants, but also offers community-alternatives to the current system we have in the UK.
The third session of the René Cassin – AJA Fellowship Programme 2019 took place at the Wiener Library. The fellows heard from Eiri Ohtani from Detention Forum who spoke about immigration detention in the UK today.