Frequently Asked Questions
We believe that no one should be deported, no matter what their situation. When campaigning against deportations, we have been asked by both the right-wing media and those who want to understand our position in more detail questions on ‘criminal’ migrants. Below we have put together a short FAQ responding to these questions.
Do you believe that even criminals should not be deported?
Yes. There are clear examples of administrative failures in the deportation system such as with the Windrush scandal where over 60 people lawfully in the UK were wrongly deported. Asylum-seekers are also deported even when their claims to remain in the UK haven’t reached a conclusion. Both these examples point to a failure in a rotten immigration system, where the Home Office does not care whether it abides by the law or its own guidance. Most people now agree that people of the Windrush Generation should be celebrated rather than deported.
However, if we believe in a humane society, even the deportation of those who are ‘rightfully’ deported, including those who have committed a crime, cannot be justified. When people worry about crime they are often worried about their security. The fear of sexual violence the Mail referenced in an article on LGSMigrants recently (citing a situation where the deportation of a migrant convicted of sexual assault was stopped after protest by passengers) structures the lives of many women. However, if we actually want to understand how to build a safer society, deportations achieve nothing. While the Mail focus on “Muslim grooming gangs” we know that the vast majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by white men, and over 80% by someone known well to the victim, often a partner. These are huge challenges which cannot be resolved simply by locking up a few men or by sending them out of the country. The obsession of institutions like the Mail with stories of racialised sexual violence is not an indication of a commitment to confronting violence against women. It is testament to their cynicism and how little they care about the true nature of gender-based violence.
Furthermore, the ‘criminal migrant’ is a construction of the right-wing media used to justify draconian measures towards all migrants. Under the Immigration Act 2016, those simply working without the right papers or whilst in the middle of asylum claims are criminalised. This means that asylum-seekers who cannot survive off the meagre £5 a day allocated to them by the Home Office become criminals the moment they agree to do any work to try and improve their situations. ‘Crimes’ like these are driven by poverty serving as a stark reminder that crime itself is a deeply political category.
In fact, the institutions that define crime engage in brutal violence: physical assault by guards restraining people during deportations is common. In 2010, Jimmy Mubenga, a person being deported on a British Airways flight, was restrained so violently that he couldn’t breathe. The guards didn’t let up despite him howling in pain and he died as a result. Violent situations like this are not a one-off. The Home Office’s recent letter to the Joint Committee on Human Rights gave detailed case studies including harrowing descriptions of people so distressed by their deportation that they put razor blades in their mouths. We have to ask whether this should be the treatment of anyone, ‘criminal’ or not.
Does that mean we should keep migrants here at ‘the expense of the taxpayer’?
Yes. People are also being sent back to places where they face severe harm and even death. The Home Office deports people to countries that are unstable, where people are vulnerable to trafficking, torture and organised crime. Where they fear abuse on the basis of their sexuality, gender, race, political beliefs or ethnic group. Places they have not visited in years, where they know no one and have no community to return to. It isn’t proportionate, even if people have committed a crime, to deport them violently to countries where they face such grave harm.
We should recognise the vulnerability of people fleeing hardship. And what about serious criminals? We believe in rehabilitation: people should not be condemned to a life of punishment. Simply imprisoning people does not reduce crime. The same is true of deporting people.
What do we ultimately therefore believe in?
We ultimately therefore believe that all deportations are inhumane and unjust. Much of UK society was built by and is sustained by migrants - migrants should be celebrated, not deported. Deportations tear apart families and take away our friends, neighbours and colleagues. Violence towards migrants by the Government and marginalisation by the right-wing press cannot be justified. This is the humane world that we believe in and one we are proud to stand up for. We know many other people believe in this world too.