Geneseo hosted an event for Cultural Harmony week on Oct. 17 featuring two members of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group: David Herd and Anna Pincus. Herd also contributed and helped organize a book they promoted called Refugee Tales, which contained real stories of detained individuals in the United Kingdom.
Through this event, Herd and Pincus exposed the deplorable detainment of refugees in the United Kingdom. This treatment must end and the immigration laws that permit this abuse must change.
Currently, the U.K. is the only country in Europe that indefinitely detains people for immigration offenses. Most immigrants who come to the U.K. are seeking asylum from life-threatening conditions.
There are currently ten detention centers in the U. K., all of which resemble prisons. The Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group’s mission is to “end indefinite immigration detention.”
Detainees in these detention centers are subject to arbitrary arrest and detainment; Pincus recalls that the longest account of detainment she is aware of is nine years.
Refugee Tales includes one story about a Nigerian man who was invited to work in the U.K. and underwent multiple security checks in Nigeria before he could travel to the U.K. for employment. He had been working and paying taxes in the U.K. since 1984.
Despite the man’s clear contributions to British society, U.K. border agency arrested him in 2012. He had been there for numerous years and his daughter was born in Britain, but the border agency still decided he didn’t belong there.
The government suspended all of his rights, tried to force him to sign a document consenting to deportation and told him to “prove” his status despite his belongings and evidence still being in his apartment.
During their case status of pending, immigrants remain in a detention center or in unfamiliar towns that the government chooses.
In these reprehensible facilities, detainees have suffered from increased post-traumatic stress disorder and depression leading to suicidal thoughts.
“It was reported that most victims of torture experienced re-traumatization, including powerful intrusive recall of torture experiences and a deterioration of pre-existing trauma symptoms,” Stephen Shaw stated in his Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons.
As a result, “at least one person a day needs medical treatment for self-harming in removal centres,” according to The Independent.
On top of that, if released, these people go from detention to destitution and all their possessions are often thrown away leaving them with nothing left.
These policies are meant to demonize, punish and isolate innocent people. Attitudes must change so we treat immigrants like the human beings that they are.