We welcome the move to telephone reporting as a first step towards eradicating the surveillance of migrants. We remain steadfast in our view that any forms of surveillance of migrants and asylum seekers are harmful and unnecessary. We demand the end of the immigration bail system and the hostile environment in its entirety and for everyone. We are not free, until all of us are free.
Immigration reporting refers to the requirement to “check in” with the Home Office regularly for migrants with no leave to remain, including those with pending applications such as asylum seekers. Immigration reporting is part of the Home Office’s Immigration Bail system introduced under the Immigration Act 2016 which has led to routine surveillance and criminalisation of all migrants.
Many migrants are interviewed or detained for removal during reporting events. Individuals can be asked to report as often as every day, often travelling for hours without any financial assistance to a reporting centre. They also have to wait for hours in a queue outdoors without any support, even when they have disabilities, and are often treated disrespectfully by staff. Many individuals are also interviewed during reporting events or detained and removed. Missing a reporting event will negatively affect your immigration case. Even at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, when the official government guidance was to isolate, the Home Office continued to ask migrants to attend reporting events in person.
The Abolish Reporting campaign was therefore created as a decentralised campaign to demand a complete end to reporting conditions and the wider surveillance and criminalisation of migrants. We believe that migrants should be treated with care, dignity and respect, instead of being regularly punished and surveilled.
The Home Office has now announced that telephone reporting is going to be the standard method of reporting, instead of in-person reporting.
We welcome the move to telephone reporting as a first step towards eradicating the surveillance of migrants. If implemented properly, telephone reporting has the potential of being much less intrusive and burdensome on people’s lives than physical reporting.
The move also shows that a different way is possible: for a long time in-person reporting was treated as a fixed status quo, that was needed to “manage” immigration in the UK. This is clearly not the case: even the Home Office admits that in-person reporting is not necessary.
We therefore remain steadfast in our view that any forms of surveillance of migrants and asylum seekers are harmful and unnecessary.
Even with the current proposed change, some migrants will still be asked to report in person. Telephone reporting itself could be equally burdensome if implemented without care – for example, many migrants and asylum seekers are destitute and might not be able to afford a phone or credit. We are concerned that this will open up avenues for further punishment of migrants.
We are also concerned about the introduction of GPS tagging as part of the immigration bail regime. See here for more information. It is clear that, despite this move to telephone reporting, this government is still committed to ramping up hostility towards our communities.
We will not stand by while any person is still subjected to reporting conditions, or any other form of surveillance and criminalisation. It is clear that a change is possible and we will continue to work with our local communities to break the silence and take collective action until all forms for immigration enforcement and surveillance are out of migrants’ lives and the Hostile Environment policy ends.
Contact your local group to arrange a one-to-one conversation with an organiser and find out more! For e.g: The Abolish Reporting London group has regular organising meetings. If you would like to join, please email email@example.com for further details.