Category Archives: detention

Jailed, for being the wrong kind of foreigner

Dawn raid, October 2006Right 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. Continue reading