Immigration Detention in the Community: Research on the Experiences of Migrants Released from Detention Centres in the UK


Axel Klein, CHSS, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK.



This paper argues that immigration detention results in immigration detainees being treated as anomalies within the liberal, democratic state – not only within detention centres but also post-release. Given that most released detainees remain destitute and without entitlement or resolution of their immigration cases, many report feelings of being continuously ‘detained’ even after release. This paper addresses a gap in the literature on the ongoing experience of released detainees. The authors draw on qualitative interview data from former detainees as a first step towards a better understanding of the issues.

We discuss wider questions of why the detention regime fails to prepare detainees for release as well as how this omission can undermine their capacity to lead productive and socially meaningful lives. This paper argues that the lack of concern for the well-being of former immigration detainees has considerable and far-reaching implications for the former detainees and their communities. Finally, we link the situation of former detainees and their liminal states of exception, to discourses of slavery and civil death. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.