This Valentine's Day we're launching a campaign to end the UK's heartless automatic deportation regime.  Join us by emailing your MP and asking them to end automatic deportation. 

Inspired by our former client's moving poem "Does the Home Office have a heart?" the campaign calls on people to show some love and join the campaign to end automatic deportation.

But what is automatic deportation? Well we've explained everything you need to know below.

Automatic deportation is heartless

At the end of a prison sentence, British people are free to rebuild their lives with their loved ones.

But for those classed as ‘foreign’, including many born or raised in the UK, different rules apply.

Introduced in 2008, Automatic deportation is a system that allows the expulsion of non-British people who have served sentences of 12 months or more WITHOUT automatic legal advice or consideration of their individual circumstances.

Having a blanket rule that puts everyone in the same category leads to the routine breaching of human rights including the detention and deportation of individuals who:

  • Were born and/or raised here
  • Grew up in and have been the responsibility of the British care system 
  • Have children in the UK
  • Are vulnerable adults including people who may have survived torture and trafficking and others who may lack mental capacity 
  • Will not be safe in their country of origin
  • Could have won their deportation appeal had they had legal advice

In 2018 then Prisons Ombudsman Stephen Shaw raised concerns about the deportation of vulnerable adults and those he called “more British than foreign”:

“I find the policy of removing individuals brought up here from infancy to be deeply troubling. For low-risk offenders, it seems entirely disproportionate to tear them away from their lives, families and friends in the UK, and send them to countries where they may not speak the language or have any ties. For those who have committed serious crimes, there is also a further question of whether it is right to send high-risk offenders to another country when their offending follows an upbringing in the UK.”

It traumatises children

Automatic deportation tears apart families and communities. It is common sense that forced separation from a parent by deportation has devastating emotional and psychological effects on children. 

Yet, when we challenge the deportation of a parent based on the fact it will harm their child in the UK, the Home Office replies with heartless copy-and-paste responses including:

“The children’s emotional needs and care would be provided for them by their mother”

You can “maintain the parental relationship with the children from abroad ‘via modern methods of communication such as telephone, email or letter.”

The law itself permits harm to children in these circumstances.  

It is racist and discriminatory

Automatic Deportation is part of the apparatus of systemic racism in the UK. 

It is inherently discriminatory and reproduces stereotypes that “foreigners” are somehow more dangerous and less deserving of rehabilitation than their British counterparts. 

Well-documented racial biases in the Criminal Justice System such as over-policing and disproportionate sentencing leave minority groups more vulnerable to Automatic Deportation. 

This then intersects with the Home Office’s hostile environment policies which, it was admitted in 2023,  ‘disproportionately’ affect Black and Asian people.

Additionally a government report, leaked in 2022, concluded that “during the period 1950-1981, every single piece of immigration or citizenship legislation was designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK”.

It is completely unjust

Immigration legal advice was removed from the scope of legal aid in 2012 and hurdles are continuously introduced to make it harder to fight for your right to stay in the UK based on your human rights. 

Unlike in the criminal justice system where safeguards exist such as automatic legal advice and strict limits on how long you can be deprived of your liberty, there are no such safeguards in the immigration system.

Legal aid is almost impossible to get, the decision to detain and deport is not overseen by a court, there is no automatic legal advice or representation and there is no time limit on how long you can be deprived of your liberty. 

This leads to many navigating incredibly complex detention and deportation laws without a lawyer. 

It is political theatre

In the run-up to elections all around the world, we are likely to see politicians hoping to point-score by scapegoating migrants. 

These dehumanising fear-based narratives obscure the truth that politicians are failing to build an equitable, compassionate and just world that makes us feel safe. These messages are poorly evidenced and over-inflated often responding to problems that don’t exist. 

Ironically it is the opposite of what these messages promote that makes us feel safe and alive. Things like peace, connection, community, helping others, having equal opportunities and justice. It is a world based on these values that we seek to build.

How you can help

Use our handy tool and template to email your MP asking them to end this injustice.

Amplify the campaign by sharing Malachi's poem on social media. You can find our posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook or you can share the poem from YouTube.

Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) is a registered Charity No. 1077187. Registered in England as a Limited Company No. 03803669. Accredited by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner Ref. No. N200100147. We are a member of the Fundraising Regulator, committed to best practice in fundraising and follow the standards for fundraising as set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice.
Log in | Powered by White Fuse