The current exceptional situation requires closing the CIE and releasing all inmates immediately
Migra Studium, Tanquem els CIE, Irídia i SOS Racisme demand the immediate closure of the CIE in the Free-Trade Zone and the release of the people interned there, due to the exceptional circumstances that exist today.
State of Emergency and deportations impossible
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic is causing a cascade of political, social, economic and legal decisions that were unthinkable in our country a few weeks ago. The declaration of the State of Emergency, provided for in art. 116 of the Constitution, is the most notorious example.
The Foreigners Internment Centers and the immigration policies of expulsion and internment can not be left out since they are, due to the facts, being impacted.
In the first place, more than half of the 196 countries in the world have vetoed the entry of travelers from Spain (1), including Morocco, the country that has seen the highest percentage of expulsions and returns of foreigners for years. Either because of the number of Moroccan nationals expelled or because Morocco accepts the expulsions on its territory of third-country nationals, especially from sub-Saharan Africa (2).
In a confined country, with the citizen’s freedom of movement and land, air and sea travels severely restricted, one can speak, without fear of exaggeration, of a technical block of the means of transportation and border crossings necessary to carry out the expulsions (3). The expulsions are, today, impossible.
Without expulsion there can be no internment
The nature of the CIE makes them mechanisms that comply to the internment precautionary measure provided for in art. 61 of the Foreigners Law. It is legal to deprive of liberty in a CIE solely if there is a possibility of expulsion. For this reason, the law imposes a limit on internments: “for the minimum and necessary time” (4) to verify expulsion.
At the present time, with expulsions and returns made impossible due to the closure of borders, the CIEs are inefficient and purposeless devices, incapable of achieving the result for which they were created. In the current exceptional circumstances, detention entails useless suffering and a resourse that is not only illegitimate, but totally unjustified.
Useless, unhealthy and unsafe internment
We must not forget the systemic and habitual deficit of health care, hygiene measures and living conditions within the CIE. A little less than eight months ago we denounced the deplorable unsanitary conditions in the center during the suffocating heat wave at the end of July (5).
As summarized by the State Campaign for the closure of the CIE and the end of deportations a few hours ago, people in the CIE are locked up in collective cells and are forced to share a bathroom (6). They do not have constant free access to running water and for most movements (even to go to the bathroom) the inmates must be accompanied by a police officer, increasing the risk of contagion. Soap, clean sheets, waste containers and clean clothes are rationed or grossly insufficient. It is impossible to guarantee the realistic disinfection of the centers, as they are places distributed in common areas in which a large number of people are constantly concentrated.
In the past, episodes with outbreaks of infectious diseases (tuberculosis, scabies …) have often meant the closure of centers for disinfection and cleaning, specifically the most recent cases that occurred in February both in the CIE of Zapadores (Valencia) as in the CIE of Aluche (Madrid) (7).
It is known that the health service provided by the private company Clínica Madrid is not cared for in the same way in all the internment centers and, in the ones it operates, neither is the service continuous, nor does it have the adequate and necessary means. For cases that go beyond the mere administration of pharmacological control or the care of very minor ailments, the CIE health service systematically and repeatedly resorts to public resources for hospital emergencies (Hospital Clínic). Public resources that, as we all know, have already been under strong demand and pressure for days.
The agents of the National Police Corps, the cleaning and service personnel, the members of the Red Cross in charge of social care in the centers are not exempt from being transmitters and / or receivers of the virus. Their entry and exit exposes the inmates deprived of liberty. The same inmates complained last Saturday that they were deprived of visits from family members and NGOs, while the construction workers continue to enter and leave the CIE, thus adding more risk. There are also inmates who suffer from chronic diseases at risk from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The CIE inmates of the Free-Trade Zone are aware that deportations and expulsions cannot be carried out right now. Faced with the absurdity of the situation, they have adopted an attitude of peaceful protest since Saturday, refusing to enter the dining room or wanting to go up to the cells, demanding a response from the center’s management office. Repeated incidents in the past suggest that there is a real risk that this legitimate protest by inmates will be handled by the police with excessive force or even violence and physical attacks (8). After years of serving as a control judge of the Aluche CIE, Ramiro García de Dios declared: “the CIEs are centers of suffering and spaces of opacity and police impunity” (9).
Unjustified internment and immediate release
The European Directive 115/2008 of Return clearly establishes in its art. 15.4 (10) that if the reasonable prospects of carrying out the expulsions disappear, due to any supervening circumstance, the internment is unjustified. In that case, the migrant deprived of liberty in a CIE must be released immediately. There is no other possible interpretation of the applicable laws.
If we are already usually against immigration detention and expulsions, in today’s exceptional circumstances its continuity is not justified in any way, even less when health is put at risk.
For all these reasons mentionned above, we consider that the necessary legal conditions are met to close the CIE of the Free-Trade Zone, release the forty inmates that are still in it and, finally, reflect deeply and honestly, as a society, on the supposed benefits that the inhumane policies of internment and expulsion of migrants provide us, betting on a comprehensive immigration reform, proposing welcoming hospitality policies and not deportations.