Bristol City Councillors have supported calls for an end to immigration detention today, by adding their voice to the cities supporting the ‘These Walls Must Fall’ campaign. At a Full Council meeting this evening (11 December) a majority of Councillors supported a motion tabled by Green Councillor Fi Hance, which calls on the Mayor to lobby the UK government and work with MPs and other councils to push for a change in immigration law and alternatives to detention.
Commenting on the successful vote, Councillor Hance said:
“I’m delighted that this motion has been passed and am proud that Bristol is joining a growing number of cities, such as Manchester, Brighton, and Liverpool, in telling the government that the indefinite detention of immigrants and asylum seekers is unjust and unacceptable. I hope the Mayor will help us take this campaign to the government and demand reform of this cruel and inhumane policy as soon as possible.”
David Ion from the campaign group ‘These Walls Must Fall’ said:
"By passing this motion the city council have shown that they are as committed as the people of Bristol are to ending immigration detention. This is a great victory for our campaign and will mean Bristol will play a leading role in the ongoing fight against our country’s most shameful institution. Thank you to all those councillors who showed their support."
Today’s motion opposing immigration detention did not pass without controversy. Despite cross party support from Green, Labour and Lib Dem Councillors, Conservative councillors attempted to water down the motion, putting forward an alternative amended version.
Green Councillor Fi Hance said:
“I was deeply disappointed by the approach from Conservative Councillors who tried to undermine this motion which calls for the basic rights of immigrants and asylum seekers to be upheld and for people to be treated humanely. Thankfully, the Conservatives do not have enough councillors in Bristol to sabotage the vote, but it is disturbing that the party which currently runs our country is not prepared to oppose the cruel treatment of those who have done nothing wrong.”
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.
Bristol now joins the growing number of cities across the country demanding an end to immigration detention.
- 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. Petition here: https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-deportation-of-ken-macharia
Image is Green Councillor Fi Hance speaking at a recent These Walls Must Fall march on College Green.