My Experiences In A UK Immigration Detention Camp

I have been in UKBA detention for one month now and I think it is about time I put down my experiences here.

First and foremost, I was arrested justly; I overstayed my visa and used another person’s identity to secure employment. Whilst I know people might scream at this and say I broke the law, it should however be known that the majority of us illegal immigrants who work in the UK under other people’s identities are not rogues. We came in this country in search of greener pastures and wish to regularize our stay but for the hard and difficult measures put in place by the UK government to make regularization difficult for us. Many of us then resign to fate. We engage in working, making money and going home at some point to either regularize from the home country, having made the money we would need for such from here or to go home and settle finally.

I fall into the former, I would, of course, love to regularize my stay, I am still a young man, under 34, why would I live the rest of my stay here in everyday at the behest of the authorities. I want to be a part of this society, I want to contribute my quota and pay taxes, I trained as a Theologian in a British school and I would love to use my knowledge to set up a charity that will do this society good. But then I have to survive; I cannot go back to Nigeria now because firstly, there is no money to do so and secondly the country at the moment is not organized. Pockets of ethnic violence here and there, lack of adequate security, the educational system in shambles and so on are part of the reasons I can’t go back. I have not mentioned the fact that going back without some form of “wealth” is also a danger to me. If I belong to the rich class, then I can wriggle and bribe my way through the system, stepping on the head of others to get whatever I want. But that would make me look as bad as those who exploit the poor, making them flee to such nations as the UK for refuge. However, I do not have that kind of wealth and influence, so going back is not a wise thing to do, at least not now.

Whilst I admit that working illegally in a country without the permission of the authorities is wrong, I would love to refer the UK authorities to the fact that they are partly to blame for refusing to admit us, also that there are things they can do to make us regularize our stay as “illegals.” I am not asking for amnesty, but would it not be better for them to ask us to come forward and put in place a working system that would enable us normalize? It is to their advantage that this is done, many people who work underground would be able to come out, register for schemes and pay their taxes, the govt would be more accountable to the people as they will have accurate numbers, the general paranoia in the minds of the Caucasian public about illegal immigrants being some hideous creature lurking around in the corner will be laid to rest as they will see that we are flesh and blood like them, racism would be reduced. The untold truth is there is still some high level of racism in this country and it needs to be addressed.

Every country has got its immigration rules, and the UK should not be an exception. Of course they have a right to determine who stays in their country and who do not. It is not in my place as a foreign born immigrant to determine that, it is for the authorities of the land I am going into to determine. However, it is expected of western governments to be sensible in their mode of carrying out immigration issues. Immigration was a big issue during the last election and I must say it became such partly because of the perceived failure of the past Labour government to get a grip of immigration issues in the UK. And also because of the mis-education and misconception of the natives about these issues. At the turn of the new millennium several countries from the former soviet block joined the EU and this opened the door for thousands if not millions of Eastern Europeans to flood into the UK. Of course as expected, this has put a strain on the limited resources available in this small Island and the normal reaction would be for people to start screaming for a tighter immigration control. The sad thing however is that instead of addressing the root cause of the problem – the EU influx- the populace started pointing fingers at non-EU immigrants, ironically the large chink of illegal immigrants come from this group. Labour played by the rules and arrested those that they could, but the government in power has now launched an assault against anybody who they perceive should not be living in the UK, and assault I say and in many ways one that has no regard for their own rules, our human rights.

My Bail and the Judge was wrong!
I was brought here on the 27th of July. Had my bail hearing 3 weeks after and the first blow I got was the immigration judge saying that I had overstayed for 7 and a half years when in essence I was in Nigeria 7 and half years ago. The bail briefing prepared by the home office started my immigration history from the first application I made to come into the UK, an application made and withdrawn 7 and a half years ago. This was clearly stated in the Bail Summary for the judge to read. It is however alarming that a judge, a learned Judge not in some remote African nation but in Great Britain would decide that I had overstayed in the UK not for 5 years that my Visa clearly stated but for 7 and half years. He based his refusing me bail on this erroneous calculation and of course, I could not appeal it. Where does this leave the courts as being the last hope of the common man? If a judge in the UK could do this right, then what hope do I have from judges in Nigeria where this nation wants to push me back into? Why are we not allowed to appeal against the decisions of bail hearings, why?

The Home office in the bail summary also forgot as it were to include the fact that in December 2004, I was issued with a 2-year multiple visa by the British High Commission in Lagos and that having left the country when my first Visa expired, I then came in again on the 2-year multiple visit visa. They stated in my bail summary that I did not return home after my first visa issued in June 2004 expired, but there are stamps on my passport that indicated I did and also when I returned to the UK in February 2005, went through immigration, my passport was stamped at entry. I was counted in! Of course I overstayed, no argument about that and they are right in wanting to remove me, but does immigration rules allow them to tell lies in formal documents about overstayers, foreign non-white European overstayers? Is there no other authority that can call them to order when they make such blunders such as leaving out correct information from such an important document as a bail summary?

How can Theresa May, Nick Clegg and their boss David Cameron prove to people like me that in a bid to remove overstayers from the UK, they are not infringing on our basic right when departments under them write blatant lies about us? How can they prove to the world that this government is not racist? How? What right have they to criticize Nick Griffin’s BNP when under their own nose activities that can best be described as racist are being carried out by their officials? Whilst here in detention I have seen the case of a young man who has a valid visa from the Home Office, but yet was brought here because as they stated his visa does not reflect on their system, but according to this young man, he just got his leave to remain extended until 2013. He has been removed of course to Nigeria. A plus to Ms May, Messrs Cameron and Clegg. Whilst it is not my intention to be political or attack this government, after all what right has an overstayer to talk in mighty Britain, I must however say I don’t expect anything less from a white male dominated government. Of course Labour blew it regarding their immigration policies but this government is treading on worse grounds now, infringing on people’s rights just to show the general public that they are working for them.

At Oakington Immigration Reception Centre here, the security company G4S is responsible for guarding us detainees and I find it very odd that of the over 100 officers working here, just one, I mean just one lady is black (and she is mixed race at that, nothing against mixed race people too), just two are Asians and another two from eastern Europe and one of Maltese Descent. The rest of course are proudly ‘indigenous’ British. In comparison, the population of inmates here is about 60% Asian, 20% black and others constitute the rest.

What explanation does the Home Office for these obvious acts omission – an Immigration Centre populated by mostly Asians and African Caribbean peoples but is guarded mainly by white people in a Britain that prides itself as a nation of racial equality even in the workplace? I am not in the British Police, but I think I know what institutional racism is from here and it is a shame that it is practiced right under the nose of the Home Office.

By Oyinlade Itunu

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  1. Hi Oyinlade Itunu
    Be strong my friend. Things aren’t going to be easy for you for a while yet. I understand your frustration and anger. There are many of us in the same boat as you. But what we have to say fall on deaf ears. The government turn a blind eye to a big problem because its easier that way and its all about the votes!!!
    Just find comfort in knowing that everything happens for a reason and you will come out the other end unscathed and wiser.
    Stay positive and plan for good things and successes wherever you may end up.
    We wish you the best of luck and may your future be filled with happiness.
    Kind regards
    T x


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