Right now, out of sight, out of mind, in Britain, around 3,200 people who haven’t harmed anybody are being held in 11 special prisons, not knowing what’s going to happen to them, or when.
They’re people of all kinds – refugees, foreign workers, the foreign-born spouses or children of British people, overseas students, and even babies (the government promised in 2010 to stop doing this, but didn’t).
They’ve been snatched off the street or dragged out of their workplaces, schools or homes, even from their beds in the small hours of the morning, by special “border enforcement” squads that have legal powers even the police don’t have, and put straight into prison without any trial. If they do eventually see a judge, it’s not a real judge but an “immigration judge”, in a special “immigration court”, which isn’t subject to the same regulation as a normal court, and of whose existence most British people are quite unaware.
So what’s their crime? Being the wrong kind of foreigner: an asylum seeker, an “illegal worker”, an “overstayer”, a partner in a “sham marriage”. Which in general means: black (or at least, not exactly white) and not very well-off.
- In 2010 alone, 25,935 people were imprisoned under these laws at one time or another. Some of them had been held for years, without trial or time-limit.
- 57,085 people were forced to leave the country, brutally in many cases, often back to persecution and torture and, in one case, killed in the process.
- This is part of a wave of anti-foreigner policies that’s swept the rich world since the early 1990s, and is wreaking devastation world-wide.
- Since 1993, at least 15,725 people have died at Europe’s newly fortified borders – trying to cross the Mediterranean in small boats; deserts, mountains, rivers and minefields; suffocated in the backs of trucks; crushed under trains. The EU even pays tyrants like Libya’s Colonel Gadaffy to catch and imprison Africans trying (or suspected of trying) to make their way to Europe.
Say ‘no’ to these insane, inhuman laws.
Anti-immigrant laws are a shameful new development, instigated by racist groups, supported by powerful right-wing interests, and enacted by cowardly politicians who haven’t the courage to oppose them. But more and more people are ashamed to belong to a country that treats human beings this way. No One Is Illegal believes this injustice will be condemned by history.
We ask you to help make history by supporting the No One Is Illegal Declaration: