We are the friends and neighbours of detainees and deportees, some of us are migrants ourselves, some of us not. We are fellow human beings who give a damn about the invisible suffering of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants; a suffering that happens on a daily basis.
That injustice is not just the result of a nebulous system. It needs individuals willing to capitalise on it. Those individuals are the Ministers and the senior civil servants making policy decisions, but also the Immigration Officers prepared to carry out the dirty work. Although they may be at the bottom of the echelon, they still make a hefty sum from this business. After all, it’s probably not that easy to find people who can inflict such suffering on other human beings and remain unaffected by it.
These officers are few in number and need to be exposed. If they have the shamelessness and arrogance to show their faces on shows like UK Border Force, given what they are responsible for, they can be identified here. These people are given free reign to do what they can to detain and deport migrants without ‘permission’ to be here. They act with total impunity. We need to challenge the acceptability of this profession. We need to challenge the norm of immigration control.
While they bear full responsibility for their actions, even these officers do not see the full picture. For a start, the sector is sanitised with terms like removal and pre-departure accomodation; and of course it is also criminalised with concepts such as illegal immigrant and sham marriage. Secondly, Immigration Officers are ignorant – whether willingly or not – of what migrants have experienced prior to the encounter with them, and are equally ignorant of or refuse to engage with what might happen to these people as a result of their work.
We are doing this for all those assaulted or killed by UKBA officers or their corporate partners – deaths which have gone barely investigated – and for those who’ve died or suffered after deportation. We are doing this for approximately 3,000 people currently held in the in misery of British detention centres; for the asylum seekers who’ve been pushed to self-harm or suicide whilst being held indefinitely in immigration detention, with the fear hanging over them of being returned to persecution, torture, female genital mutilation, rape, or war. We are doing this for the friends ripped away from us, for the families torn apart. It’s time to expose the lies and shine a light on these collaborators.
The government has admitted that it has tried to forcibly remove tens of thousands of people from the UK unlawfully (Guardian newspaper website 22nd March 2013).