Updated: Saturday, 25th May 2019 @ 8:13am

'Sans Papiers' migrants face self-harm, suicide and public hostility, claims Manchester Uni study

'Sans Papiers' migrants face self-harm, suicide and public hostility, claims Manchester Uni study

| By April Curtin

Undocumented UK migrants face self-harm, suicide, ill-health and hostility from the general public, claims a Manchester study.

Migrants, known as ‘Sans Papiers’, have provided both University of Manchester academics and the Migrants Rights Network with evidence that suggests officials and the public are creating numerous problems for migrants.

Migrants told the team of researchers that the centre’s medical services and living conditions are not up to standard. They also cited other problems concerning privacy and hostile staff.

Dr Jon Spencer, from the University’s School of Law, led the study. He said: “This research reveals how many undocumented workers are trapped in a Kafkaesque world, where rules change without notice and the demands are unreasonable.

 “Access to services seems to be arbitrary and discretionary and officials can make decisions without any justification or reasonable explanation.”

Dr Spencer also said: “Though the number of undocumented migrants in the UK probably fell in recent years, we are concerned about the welfare of those that remain.”

The doctor and his team are now calling for a public enquiry and he said: “This is why we are calling for a public inquiry to ensure the UK’s detention estate conform to minimum standards elsewhere in the criminal justice system.

“Indeed, the whole of the asylum system must conform to criminal justice standards.

“In particular, we think there should be a maximum time limit for immigration detention, proper access to medical care, and an end to the use of force during detention and removals.”

The undocumented migrants interviewed by the team were mainly asylum seekers overstaying their visa and workers who entered the country on false papers looking for secret employment.

Ruth Grove-White from the Migrants Rights Network said: “This study shows how urgently a rethink is needed to tackle the way we respond to irregular migration.

“There are many reasons why people become undocumented and it is often related to problems in the immigration system itself.

“But the approach of the current government is to come down hard on undocumented migrants. Soon, local hospitals, landlords and employers will all be on the frontline, expected to identify and report those without papers.

“But outsourcing immigration controls in this way is tearing communities apart.”

Ms Grove-White added that she would like to see the government taking real steps to address the issue, ‘to ensure that everyone in the UK, regardless of their status, is treated with dignity and compassion’.

Image courtesy of Durham Dundee, with thanks