Immigration Reporting and why the surveillance of migrants must stop

This blog was written by an Abolish Reporting campaign member who wishes to remain anonymous in order to protect themselves from further state violence. The Abolish Reporting campaign is a campaign led by people with experience of reporting supported by Migrants Organise, TWMF and others. The campaign seeks to end surveillance of migrants which is a core function of this government’s brutal Hostile Environment Immigration policies. Find out more and how to join the campaign here.  

As an asylum seeker my freedom is limited in what I can do while waiting for a much-delayed decision from the Home Office. I remember one morning waking up with tears rolling down from both my eyes, struggling to understand what was happening, until a paramedic comes into my room and I realised my house mate must have sounded the alarm because of my increasingly deteriorating state at the time. I have had many such episodes in the past seven odd years after claiming asylum in the UK. At times, the pain and agony are unbearable to handle. I have almost ended up self-harming and committing serious acts to end the very life that I once wanted to be saved when running from persecution back home. It is quite ironic seeking sanctuary in this country after fleeing from injustice only to find that embracing a similar system have no empathy, respect or dignity as an individual. I have lost track of the number of times I have been treated with contempt, a second class human, just because I am seeking protection in this country. 

I have spent a long while in the UK only to find out that the authorities do not believe anything that migrants say. Honesty amounts to nothing and you are treated as a liar regardless. This is not only my story, but there are thousands of people are going through quite the same situation unable to prove their trustworthiness no matter how harder they tried to establish it. The Home Office have already made assumptions and decided the asylum application without genuinely considering its merits, which is evil. No one should not be treated like this with baseless allegations trying to disprove what you have said with their fantasy ideas and theories.

Home Office’s policies are malicious and stringent. There are roughly 120,000 asylum seekers currently subject to some sort of immigration control. People have outstanding asylum claims and many other different immigration pathways, and people with uneven status are treated harshly without considering their personal conditions and difficulties. One of the ways that this is done is by asking migrants and asylum seekers to ‘report’ with the Home Office or at a policy station regularly.

During the pandemic it has been reported that people had to travel many miles either walking or cycling with their kids, and sometimes the whole family was required to attend these unjust reporting appointments. When the Covid-19 pandemic was at its most deadly phase, a mother with a month old baby was asked to come for her routine reporting appointment. She recalled her dangerous experience of a four-hour trip to Home Office to me which I found as a heartless act by the immigration officials. The text message she received from the Home Office had no proper instructions to get to the centre or what rules to follow while visiting her appointment, and no money had been given to her in order to get there with her newly born child. There are many stories like hers, if I had to write all of them down here it would have been an impossible task for me and the readers would probably not be able to stand reading the dreadful experiences that many people had to go through and are still going through today.

It is completely unacceptable that migrants and asylum seekers must go through these difficulties during their reporting appointments (even more unacceptable during a pandemic). The Home Office are putting migrant communities and rest of the population in grave danger by asking them to take these unnecessary and unjustifiable journeys on weekly, monthly or biweekly. 

Even during the pandemic, they continue to detain people when they go for reporting without any warning, or any further notice only create more unfairness and cruelty onto an already punitive system. People who are navigating the current immigration system are already dissatisfied and let down by the government with their inhumane immigration practices and these cruel reporting conditions are an addition to that.

I believe reporting is a cruel practice altogether and it threatens well-being of the asylum seeker, because most of them if not all are suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and some of them are under suicidal watch, which leads to even deterioration of their overall health and well-being. The Home Office should not gamble with these individuals lives, and should start treating them with courtesy, respect and dignity that has been long lost with the introduction and practice of immigration control in the UK.