Bishop Paul McAleenan has called for MPs to support a 28-day time limit on immigration detention, saying that detaining people indefinitely ‘does not reflect the justice due to every person that we as a nation pride ourselves on upholding’.
In a letter to MPs Bishop Paul highlighted his experiences of visiting detention centres with Catholic chaplains and volunteers.
He warned that indefinite detention leaves parents separated from their children with no indication of when they might be reunited. He also pointed out that victims of torture, victims of trafficking and people with severe mental health conditions are being detained indefinitely. Detainees have also included those fleeing oppression, including religious persecution, in their home countries.
Currently people with irregular immigration status can be taken from their families and detained indefinitely if they cannot provide the correct immigration paperwork. Many people are held in immigration detention for months or even years. One person was detained for four and a half years.
The Bishop’s intervention comes as the Immigration and Social Security Coordination Bill continues its passage through parliament, giving MPs an opportunity to change legislation and introduce a time limit. Bishop Paul is urging people to encourage their local MP to support this bill, saying that ‘indefinite immigration detention not only violates people's basic human dignity, but that it serves no meaningful purpose.’