The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, announced that the Labour Party would close two immigration detention centers if it was to gain power.
In a speech at the IPPR think tank in London, Abbott highlighted measures Labour would take to reform the immigration system, including closing Yarl’s Wood and Brook House — two immigration detention centers.
She says that the money saved from closing these centers would provide £20m to support survivors of modern slavery and domestic violence.
The BBC reports that this follows on the heels of the Windrush controversy:
The Windrush migrants arrived between the late 1940s and 1973, mainly from the Caribbean, but some have been threatened with deportation in recent years if they have been unable to supply a range of different documents to prove they have been in the UK each year.
Changes to immigration laws to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants have also meant that although they have the right to live in the UK, some people have also been refused jobs, healthcare and benefits.
Ms Abbott said: “People are being kept in detention for months, even years on end. They include the Windrush generation, victims of torture, refugees and victims of sexual exploitation.
“The government announced the Modern Slavery Bill with great fanfare but no resources. They are gearing up to do exactly the same with the upcoming Domestic Violence Bill. It is simply not good enough.”
Abbott added that Labour would seek to ban private companies from running detention centers, saying “This government and its predecessors have long had an obsession with enriching the private sector from the public purse. This is despite the costs, either financially, in shoddy service or in human misery.”
The UK Home Office released a statement saying that it would “always demand the highest standards from those we entrust with the safety and welfare of those in detention.” It claimed that those detained in immigration centers would only be placed there if there was a “realistic prospect” of them being deported.