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The grassroots organisations in our network build communities of welcome to support people as they try to reach a resolution in their immigration case. These organisations already provide many forms of community support that the government could be investing in and learning from, instead of building new detention centres.

Three weeks ago, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a public consultation on her ‘New Plan For Immigration. The New Plan represents a series of measures that prioritise enforcement and incarceration over community-based case resolution in immigration policy.

The Plan proposes that new ‘Reception Centres’ be used as a form of quasi-detention, where people would be ‘accommodated’ in an institution, as opposed to being housed in the community, while their asylum claim is assessed. It also includes provision to ‘make it possible for asylum claims to be processed outside the UK and in another country’ leaving the door open for offshore detention facilities.

It is far harder to scrutinise offshore places of detention, or quasi-detention ‘grey zones’ where key lifelines such as access to healthcare, NGO support and legal advice may not be available as we’ve seen recently in the case of Napier Barracks and other forms of contingency accommodation. Immigration detention has already been proven to be extremely harmful and the few basic safeguards that exist must be protected.

The proposed rules seek to treat people seeking asylum differently depending on the routes they take to arrive in the UK. Under the New Plan, someone’s asylum claim could be considered ‘inadmissable’ if they travelled through a country the UK government deems to be ‘safe’ before reaching the UK.

We believe that people should be allowed to choose where they feel safe, and that their asylum claim should not be affected by how they arrive.

The Plan would also decrease the threshold for revoking someone’s refugee status to anyone who has been sentenced to at least 12 month’s imprisonment.

This would doubly punish people who have already served criminal sentences and leave even more people who may not have had proper access to justice liable for removal.

Finally, the proposals suggest that immigration bail conditions may become more stringent and coercive, employing ‘reporting arrangements and monitoring.’

This would effectively make bail itself a form of detention.

Our message to the Home Secretary

We know that there is another way.

Why inflict harm by depriving someone of their liberty when they can live in the community as their immigration case is resolved?

Community-based case management alternatives are cheaper, more humane and more effective at resolving people’s immigration cases.

We know, because we are part of the communities that already support people as they try to rebuild their lives after being released from detention.

The Government pledged to pursue these alternatives, but they aren’t mentioned in the New Plan, so we are here to remind them to stick to their promises.

We urge all our partners and friends to respond to the consultation, to make sure the views of organisations working in detention, and most importantly, of people with lived experience of detention are heard.

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