Treatment of UK's 'sans papiers' damned

Jul 16, 2014 by Mike Addelman

Undocumented migrants living in the UK and their children face hostility from officials and the public, ill-health, self-harm, and even suicide, according to a consultation, whose report is published today.

Evidence given to University of Manchester academics and the Migrant Rights Network by the 'sans papiers', also echoes critical press reports on Yarl's Wood Detention Centre, Bedfordshire.

The team, who are calling for a public enquiry, were told by migrants that the centre's medical services and living conditions are not up to standard, also citing other problems around privacy and hostile staff.

Dr Jon Spencer, based at the University's School of Law, who lead the study, said: "This research reveals how many are trapped in a Kafkaesque world, where rules change without notice and the demands are unreasonable.

"Access to services seems to be arbitrary and discretionary and officials can make decisions without any justification or reasonable explanation.

"Though the number of undocumented migrants in the UK probably fell in recent years, we are concerned about the welfare of those that remain."

He added: "This is why we are calling for a public inquiry to ensure the UK's detention estate conform to minimum standards elsewhere in the criminal justice system.

"Indeed, the whole of the asylum system must conform to standards.

"In particular, we think there should be a maximum time limit for immigration detention, proper access to medical care, and an end to the use of force during detention and removals."

The undocumented migrants interviewed by the team were mostly asylum seekers overstaying their visa and workers who entered the country on false papers, in search of clandestine, low paid, employment.

Ruth Grove-White from the Migrants Rights Network said: "This study shows how urgently a rethink is needed to tackle the way we respond to irregular migration. There are many reasons why people become undocumented, and its often related to problems in the immigration system itself.

"But the approach of the current government is to come down hard on undocumented migrants. Soon, local hospitals, landlords and employers will all be on the frontline, expected to identify and report those without papers. But outsourcing immigration controls in this way is tearing communities apart.

"We'd like to see government taking real steps to address the causes of irregularity, and to ensure that everyone in the UK, regardless of their status, is treated with dignity and compassion."

Explore further: EU wants to standardise migrant health screening

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Immigration reform needs to address access to health care

Mar 19, 2013

With comprehensive immigration reform a priority for President Obama and gaining bipartisan and public support, there is a need and an opportunity to consider how the millions of undocumented immigrants should be integrated ...

Focusing on the undocumented hurts immigration debate

Jan 16, 2014

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner recently signaled that the House may follow the Senate's lead and move immigration legislation. But many policymakers are falling into the "illegality trap" – a phrase coined by Michael Jones-Correa, ...

Recommended for you

New poll reveals what Americans fear most

8 hours ago

Chapman University has initiated the first comprehensive nationwide study on what strikes fear in Americans in the first of what is a planned annual study. According to the Chapman poll, the number one fear in America today ...

Study shows how texas campus police tackle stalking

8 hours ago

One out of every five female students experience stalking victimization during their college career, but many of those cases are not reported to police, according to a study by the Crime Victims' Institute ...

How large-scale technology projects affect knowledge

11 hours ago

What do an accelerator complex at Cern, a manufacturing center in 19th century Philadelphia and lotus cultivation during the Qing dynasty all have in common? All such activities generate knowledge and know-how. ...

User comments : 0