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Thursday, 6th Dec 2018

End Immigration Detention - these walls must fall

Green Councillors have submitted a motion to a coming Full Council meeting (11 December) supporting calls for an end to immigration detention in the UK. The motion, proposed by Green councillor Fi Hance and seconded by Labour councillor Ruth Pickersgill, calls on Bristol’s Mayor to endorse the ‘These Walls Must Fall’ Campaign (1), lobby the UK government, and work with local MPs and other councils to push for changes in immigration law and alternatives to detention.(2)

Immigration detention recently hit headlines in Bristol when Kenneth Macharia, a gay rugby player for local team Bristol Bisons, was detained and threatened with deportation. (3) Close to 100,000 people have signed a petition against Kenneth’s deportation to Kenya, where he would be persecuted because of his sexuality. (4)

Currently in the UK approximately 30,000 people are detained in immigration detention every year, having committed no criminal offence, but for lacking the correct immigration papers or pending administration of their case. Detention is at centres in prison-like conditions, with no time limit on how long people might be held – detainees do not know whether they will be held for weeks, months or years. The UK is the only country in Europe to detain people indefinitely in this way, at a cost to the government over £100 million per year. (5)

Green Councillor Fi Hance said:

“As a city of sanctuary, Bristol has for many years been vocal in its support of refugees in the city.  It is a source of ongoing shame that even today many thousands of people who have committed no crime are detained, often at short notice for many months at a time. This has a huge financial cost but more importantly is a cruel and indefensible way to treat those in our society who have the least. By passing this motion and throwing its weight behind this great campaign, the Council can play an important role in pressuring national government and politicians, and show that Bristol refuses to be a hostile environment for migrants or asylum seekers.”

David Ion from the These Walls Must Fall campaign in Bristol said:

These Walls Must Fall Motions have now been passed in cities across the UK: Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton, Oxford and more. When our core cities come together and say no to immigration detention, Westminster will have to listen. Please join us on our march on Dec 8th at 11.30 in Castle Park if you think it’s time that Bristol joins this list and stands up against immigration detention.”

Labour Councillor Ruth Pickersgill, who worked with Councillor Hance on the motion, said:

“These Walls Must Fall’ is a really important national campaign that I hope the Council will support. As part of a wider deliberately hostile environment, this Government has allowed a situation to develop where asylum seekers and migrants can be detained for indefinite periods in prison conditions even when they have committed no crimes.

“Many people in my ward have come to the UK, expecting to be safe and to have their human rights respected, and find themselves whisked away to a Detention Centre, and more often than not, this trauma has a profound impact on their mental health. People seeking sanctuary should not be locked up like criminals.”

The motion is a ‘golden’ motion which means it will be the first to be debated at the Council meeting at City Hall (Tuesday 11 December). These Walls Must Fall is planning a march against immigration detention in Bristol on 8 December, starting from Castle Park at 11:30am. (6)

ENDS

1)      https://detention.org.uk/

2)      The motion calls for Bristol’s Mayor to ask the government to adopt the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into detention: https://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/End-immigration-detention?p=1111

3)      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/28/gay-rugby-player-facing-deportation-allowed-to-leave-holding-centre

4)      https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-deportation-of-ken-macharia

5)      House of Commons Briefing paper - Immigration detention in the UK: an overview. Number 7294, 12 September 2018

6)      See facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/254672921879953/

 

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