Statement on healthcare provisions for undocumented migrants and those in immigration detention

Border Criminologies is an international network of researchers, practitioners and those who have experienced border controls. Our globalised expertise lies in researching and advocacy around border controls, policing and immigration detention. 

The executive board of Border Criminologies wishes to raise concerns around the impact of Covid-19 (coronavirus) on the wellbeing of migrants, in particular those who are undocumented and/or held in detention. People who are undocumented face specific vulnerabilities in terms of accessing testing or healthcare, since many fear the threat of detention or deportation and thus are more likely to go undetected. For those held in immigration detention, the World Health Organisation advocates the implementation of distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. Enforced group confinement inherent in immigration detention exacerbates the risk of contamination. The alternative--the enforced use of solitary confinement--itself carries serious risk of psychological harm and is unacceptable. 

We therefore call on those working in immigration detention, public health and border controls to develop holistic approaches which prioritise the health, wellbeing and rights of migrant groups in the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic. We emphasise that Covid-19 is recognised as a legally notifiable disease and is thus exempt from financial charging for all migrants (Public Health England). We advocate the intensified use of testing in detention, and for immigration authorities to exercise their powers to use leeway for release where available and appropriate. Overall, we emphasise the requirement for migrant groups to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect during these difficult and uncertain times.  

Signed, Executive Board of Border Criminologies

Dr. Ana Aliverti; Prof. Mary Bosworth, Dr. Victoria Canning, Dr. Andriani Fili, Prof. Katja Franko, Dr Peter Mancina, Dr. Rimple Mehta, Dr. Sanja Milivojevic, Dr. Alpa Parmar, Dr Gabriella Sanchez, Prof. Juliet Stumpf and Prof. Maartje van der Woude