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Government's ‘cruel’ immigration laws ‘disproportionately impacting Britain’s black community’

THE government’s “cruel” detention and deportation laws have “disproportionately impacted Britain’s black community,” a campaign group told MPs today.

Hearing evidence, ministers were told that the new immigration Bill still contains “every aspect” of the hostile environment policies that caused the Windrush scandal.

Detention Action director Bella Sankey said the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which passed its second reading in the Commons last month, will extend these policies to EU citizens. 

“As it stands, the impact of these laws over the past decade or more have caused untold trauma and pain, particularly to Britain’s black community who are disproportionately impacted ... and this Bill now proposes to extend those harsh provisions to all EU citizens,” she told MPs on the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill Committee. 

The new Bill proposes to end free movement with the EU as well as the imposition of a points-based immigration system. 

“I think it is quite shocking that following the Windrush scandal this new piece of immigration legislation is brought [...] to Parliament without any attempt to deal with the very clear problems with the existing immigration regime,” Ms Sankey added. 

The hostile environment, introduced in 2015, resulted in British citizens, whose parents were part of the Windrush generation from Jamaica, being denied free healthcare, locked up in detention centres and some deported. 

Campaigners have repeatedly raised concerns about the harmful impact of Britain’s detention regime and its discriminatory impact on black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

Thirty-seven people are known to have died in immigration detention centres in England and Wales from 2000-2019, according to Inquest, a charity which investigates state related deaths. Of those, a third were from BAME backgrounds. 

A spokesperson from Medical Justice, which provides medical aid to detainees, said: “It is widely acknowledged that immigration detention is in and of itself harmful and disproportionately affects people of colour.”

The coronavirus has posed new threats to the health and wellbeing of detainees. Despite this the Home Office has refused to give a blanket release to detainees, keeping hundreds locked up.

Deportation flights have also continued. A charter flight on April 30 was sent to Poland at a time when air travel had fallen by 95 per cent. The Home Office also confirmed today that a deportation flight is planned to Lithuania this Friday. 

A Home Office spokesperson claimed those on board are “foreign national offenders.”

They said: “We make no apology for seeking to protect the public by removing serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders and since 2010 we have removed more than 53,000 criminals.”

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