The Illegal Migration Bill has become law after the government refused approval of amendments by the House of Lords on Monday night, including protections for victims of modern slavery, LGBT+ people and the treatment of women and children.
What will this mean for the innocent children looking to claim asylum in the UK? Zain Hafeez from our Spokesperson Network shares his experience of seeking asylum after arriving in the UK aged 12.
My heart is heavy as I reflect on the government’s plans to incorporate child detention in the Illegal Migration Bill. I feel compelled to share my story. As someone who arrived in the UK at the age of 12, my parents tried their best to hide our immigration situation from me. But despite being only 12, I knew deeply that there was something wrong. My heart cries for babies and children who will be put into detention centres.
The new system will produce an influx of more traumatised children who will need to be supported with sensitivity and care.
This is not just a policy; it’s an assault on the souls and dreams of innocent children who deserve compassion and understanding. I was a child who was caught in the crossfire of things that were not in my hands. I had no say in any of it. I used to always question, what did I do as a child to deserve this?
Despite getting many hours of therapy, dedicating a big chunk of my life to doing inner work and healing myself from the dire circumstances our immigration system put me through, I still feel broken. I still have so much rage within me. I try my best to stay constructive and be a positive contribution by giving back to this country and to the people here who have been so welcoming- despite the majority of the media pushing false and unjust narratives about asylum seekers and refugees. I try to channel this rage by working on campaigns with inspiring people at both of my workplaces but the news today really broke my heart.
This law will impact their mental health, and feed the hatred, rage and resentment they will have against the system.
I feel so emotional thinking about the impact this will have on the children, even if they are detained for just for one day. This law will impact their mental health, and feed the hatred, rage and resentment they will have against the system. The lack of support to process these traumatic experiences will impact their sense of self-worth and could make them more prone to falling into addictive tendencies to run away from the pain of feeling dehumanised.
Some of them, because of not having support, will overcompensate for this by getting into unnecessary fights and criminal activities; and then the media will use these stories to propagate further hatred against the marginalised communities instead of seeing the bigger picture and seeing policies like these are part of the root cause for these issues. Absolutely disgraceful.
The new system will produce an influx of more traumatised children who will need to be supported with sensitivity and care. I urge everyone, myself included, to not give up and to keep fighting, to become more organised and to campaign against these inhumane policies with pragmatism. This illegal migration bill cannot be the final word, this may just be the start of a slippery slope.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zain has more than 10 years of first-hand experience of going through the asylum and immigration process. During those 10 years, he was not allowed to work, access student finance, vote and even drive. However, after a lot of resilience, Zain obtained a full-paid scholarship to go to university and graduated with a First-Class Honours in Philosophy and Global Studies. He has been actively campaigning about the inadequacies of our asylum system and the obstacles asylum seekers and refugees go through. He is currently a Community Organiser at Citizens UK, a Complex Needs Team Leader at CRMC, a Board of Trustee at ASAP and an Ambassador for the Voices Network at Red Cross. Zain is also Funding Manager at Civic Power Fund. Zain Hafeez is part of the Sounddelivery Media Spokesperson Network.