Why a Firewall?
When people in an irregular situation try to access essential services or to report abuse or exploitation to the authorities, they risk being reported, detained and deported.
For them, the simple act of going to see the doctor can lead to their personal data being shared with immigration authorities, triggering immigration enforcement procedures.
Putting the enforcement of immigration rules ahead of people’s fundamental rights prevents many people without regular status from accessing services. The human impact of such policies is borne by individuals, families, and the broader society. Illnesses go untreated, crimes go unprosecuted, children go unschooled, and impunity fuels the repeated victimisation of people in situations of vulnerability – who are denied justice, protection and assistance.
Ensuring everyone can access healthcare services is essential if we want to improve and protect our health and well-being, and that of our families and communities.
If you’re undocumented, trying to get health care can put you at risk of being detained and deported. This destroys trust in the health system, and discourages people from seeking care. To ensure that everyone is treated based on need and not their status, delivery of services must be delinked from immigration enforcement actions. A “firewall” in health protects individuals from discrimination, and the integrity of our health systems.
We are all safer when every person who experiences or witnesses a crime can report it without fear.
When undocumented victims and witnesses contact the police, they are likely to be arrested because of their immigration status. This fosters impunity, increases repeat victimisation, and prevents the police from doing its work effectively and ensuring the safety of communities. A ‘firewall’ in justice ensures that all cases are properly investigated, that perpetrators are held to account, and all victims can come forward.
Ensuring that regulations on working conditions and safety apply in all workplaces, for all workers, is essential to promote decent work for all.
For undocumented workers, contact with labour inspectors usually puts them at risk of arrest and deportation. This means they cannot file a complaint against their employer if they are not being paid, are being made to work excessive hours or in unsafe conditions, or are facing harassment, intimidation or other types of exploitation. A “firewall” in labour allows workers to safely file a complaint and access justice; it empowers workers, tackles abuses, and promotes fair business practices.
European Commission Against Racism and Intollerance – ECRI GENERAL POLICY RECOMMENDATION NO. 16
“On Safeguarding Irregularly Present Migrants from Discrimination”
François Crépeau and Bethany Hastie – The Case for ‘Firewall’ Protections for Irregular Migrants: Safeguarding Fundamental Rights
Liberty UK – Report “Care Don’t Share”, December 2018
PICUM’s Explainer – What to Know If You Are a Police Officer , 2018