Immigration Detention and the Expansion of Penal Power in the UK
(Forthcoming) In K. Reiter and A. Koenig (Eds.). Extraordinary Punishment: An Empirical Look at Administrative Black Holes in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, Palgrave
15 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 24, 2014
In the United Kingdom (UK), immigration detention is not a form of legal punishment, but rather is administrative in nature and geared towards the removal of unwanted non-citizens. Yet, for those who are detained for immigration purposes and confined in one of the UK’s ten immigration removal centres (IRCs), the common experience is that of punishment, with IRCs both feeling and looking like penal institutions. In addition, because the duration of confinement is indeterminate (i.e., there is no statutory time limit on immigration detention), the experience of detention is marked by high levels of anxiety and fear over the looming threat of removal from the UK. Drawing on fieldwork across several British IRCs, this chapter examines women’s and men’s experiences of immigration detention and the conditions of confinement. Detainees’ testimonies highlight the distressing nature of confinement and the overwhelming perception that detention is an illegitimate response to immigration matters. The aim of this chapter is to discuss the implications of immigration detention for our understanding of extreme punishment, including the ways in which this form of confinement and its effects are both similar to and different from ‘traditional’ penal practices. In doing so, it will highlight how immigration detention is reflective of the broadening reach of penal power in the service of border control and of race, gender, and postcolonial relations in a globalising world.
Keywords: Immigration detention, penality, gender, race, United Kingdom
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