When you hear Priti Patel talk about increasing deportations or denying asylum applications, imagine it were you. Imagine your life ripped apart and being sent back into the hands of traffickers. This does not stop trafficking.
First published in February 2021.
There are clear risks of violating international law and the most basic principles of human rights. These plans will do nothing to combat trafficking other than exacerbate the issue by creating a never ending cycle of people forced into the hands of traffickers.
Imagine that it is YOU.
You have lived here for most of your life. You don’t know anyone in your country of birth. You have a life here, friends, family, children, etc. You make one mistake. Someone kicks off at your partner in a club and you shove them away, and they go down.
Suddenly everything is changed. You are sentenced to six months in magistrates court. It is not great. I mean... it was a spur of the minute action in a moment of anger after all. But you are lucky... your boss has said they understand and your job will be waiting for you.
You do your time. You get out. You go back to work. You try and put it behind you. Then one day, and it could be any day – even after you are back home, there is a knock at the door. Before you know it you are detained again. You are in immigration detention.
This time you don’t know how long for though. It is indefinite. There is Covid running rampant in the facility, but you can’t isolate or try and take measures to protect yourself due to the cramped unhygienic conditions. You try and get legal help but you can’t get access to any.
Eventually, you are stuck on a flight. Taken to a country you don’t know. There is no-one there you can really turn to. You have been abandoned and told you can never see your family again. All for one action in a moment of anger, defending someone you love.
Now, imagine you are an asylum seeker, and instead of being sent to a country where you don’t know anyone, you are sent to one which sends you to a camp where you are tortured and sold into slavery.
Welcome to what is happening right now!
Asylum seeker or deportee, what are you going to do next? Do you give up on seeing your family ever again and living in a country where you may not even speak the language? As an asylum seeker, do you resign yourself to a life of slavery and death?
Or do you try and escape?
So, in steps your only option, the trafficking gangs. You have no money to pay a smuggler up front, so the traffickers are the only ones you can go to, even if it means being exploited and working off the costs. After all, some hope is better than none, isn’t it?
Once they have you they have you though. You don’t end up back in England for starters, but you manage to escape again and, again, you end up with traffickers. Many victims are trafficked multiple times. Finally, you are in the UK.
You can escape now though, can’t you? Where do you go? The police? Back to immigration detention and deportation. Your MP? 151 have reported people to immigration enforcement during the pandemic alone.
There is no-one. You are trapped with the traffickers.
That is it. Game over.
Imagine it were you... How would you feel?
▫ Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.
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🗳️ Priti Patel
[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 10 February 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Pixabay. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)