Immigration detention in Britain is primarily a final point before deportation or administrative removal. Although some of the population who are detained arrived directly from the airport, most have lived in the UK for a number of years. Their detention and deportation thus raise important questions about the (means and nature of the) constitution of the British community and, particularly for long-term residents, about affective questions of belonging, home, and identity. Who are these people and where is their ‘home’? Where do they belong and why? How do the intertwined practices of detention and expulsion shape and reshape people’s identities?
This project explores how the system of immigration detention and deportation marks out the British homeland, and how those subject to it respond. It consists of two parts. First, research undertaken in four immigration removal centres in the UK examines detainee accounts of their home in Britain, while also exploring the lived experiences of detention. Second, follow-up research with detainees who have been released in the UK or deported or administratively removed considers the impacts of detention and expulsion on their identities and senses of home and belonging. Central to this project is understanding how intersections of gender and race are constitutive of detention and deportation, as well as the lived experiences of these practices.
As countries pursue policies of detention and deportation with ever increasing enthusiasm, it is important to gather more empirical evidence about the outcomes, both in practical and conceptual terms. From a criminological perspective, given that deportation in the UK is now mandatory for all non-EU citizens sentenced to more than one year in prison (subject to international human rights protections), the impact of deportation has considerable bearing on the legitimacy and goals of the country’s criminal justice system and immigration law.