BID expresses its solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those protesting against police violence towards Black people and endemic structural racism in America and the UK, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Too many aspects of British public life are infused with racism and we encounter this on a daily basis in the context of immigration detention.
For too long people coming to this country for work or to seek refuge have been vilified and ostracised through increasingly hostile immigration laws and policies specifically designed to exclude and disbelieve. We have a press that all too readily caricatures and demeans (“bogus asylum seekers”; “foreign national criminals taking advantage of our hospitality”). Successive governments have passed vast swathes of immigration legislation aimed at making it as difficult as possible for people to build a permanent life here and ever to feel that they are truly British, not least for citizens of countries that Britain colonised. Recent history has seen widespread prejudice against the Caribbean community, the Asian community and, more recently nationals from the European Union. And time after time public inquiries have laid bare institutional racism.
The system is violent and sometimes deadly, as shown by the deaths of Joy Gardner, Jimmy Mubenga, and countless others. In 2017 a BBC Panorama documentary recorded undercover footage in Brook House detention centre in which staff members were filmed attempting to strangle detainees, subjecting them to verbal abuse and falsifying records to cover their tracks. Shockingly, while there is no central record kept of deaths of people detained under immigration powers, at least 34 people died while detained between 1989 and 2017.
Immigration detention is but one feature of our racist immigration system. In any objective assessment, there is no logic to depriving someone of their liberty for the purposes of immigration control, and yet this abhorrent practice has been proudly displayed as a central tenet of the UK’s asylum and immigration system. BID continues to oppose any form of incarceration of human beings for immigration purposes and calls for its immediate end. We stand alongside those fighting for a better world in which we are all treated equally.