The Observer has spoken out against the UK’s “shameful” immigration detention system in a strongly-worded editorial this weekend.
Noting the parallels between Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the US border and the UK’s own treatment of immigrants’ children, the newspaper’s editorial team stated that “any sense of basic justice or human compassion seems to have eluded the Home Office”.
In a major news story accompanying their editorial, The Observer explained that in the past 12 months, BID’s caseworkers had assisted 167 parents who had been separated from their 322 children – an increase of 16% on the previous year. The total number of detained parents separated from children is therefore likely to be much higher than BID’s caseload alone.
The paper highlighted horrifying stories from some of BID’s clients:
Assan says she is stunned by the Home Office’s callousness. On her way to the reporting centre on 3 March 2015, the day she was detained, she had called her Home Office caseworker to say the trip was logistically difficult because she had to pick up her daughter. She says the official encouraged her to attend, promising to review the arrangement. On arrival, Assan was told her deportation order had been certified, so there was no appeal. Court documents record that she began screaming and was restrained, with “officers holding her legs, her arms and her head right back”. The Home Office has not disclosed a “use of force” report, despite this being mandatory.
Handcuffed and with her phone confiscated, Assan was taken to detention. At 3pm, when her daughter’s nursery closed, there was no one to collect her: the Home Office had arranged no care. The toddler was taken into emergency foster care. Court documents describe the child as in “acute distress and confusion”.
Speaking through tears, Assan said: “She’s my first child. It was the first nursery session, the first time we had been separated. I had no clue where she was or who she was with.”
What BID does
BID is the only organisation of its kind, providing free legal advice, information and support to immigration detainees to help them exercise their right to liberty and access to justice. Last year, we helped 5,941 people being held in immigration detention centres and prisons across the UK.
For years, we have been fighting for an end to the separation of families for immigration purposes. Find out more about our research and policy work in this area.
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