New migration green paper proposing detention camps for asylum seekers

Immigration is a sensitive topic worldwide. it played a role in the Brexit referendum and even here we saw looting of foreign owned shops during the Tshwane unrest.

Immigration and migrants to South Africa is an important issue and now the Department of Home Affairs has released a green paper on migration. In introducing the paper, Minister Malusi Gigaba spoke of a twin track approach. If you have been granted asylum and have your papers, you will be free to live and work where you choose.

But the paper suggests that while you are applying and your status is undetermined, you should be kept in a camp close to your point of entry. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will play an oversight role in management and administration of these centres.

John Maytham talks to Professor Loren Landau South African Research Chair Mobility and the Politics of Difference African Centre for Migration & Society Wits University about the contents of this Green Paper

These places are unlikely to be in line with South Africa's human rights standards.

Loren Landau South African Research Chair Mobility and the Politics of Difference African Centre for Migration & Society Wits University

Landau says detention centres in places like Australia and the USA are cases in point. They are not designed as a place where people stay for a few days while being processed. They are rather meant to discourage others from coming, he says.

People are kept in detention for long periods without access to their families.

Loren Landau South African Research Chair Mobility and the Politics of Difference African Centre for Migration & Society Wits University

People then choose to rather avoid the process of applying formally for papers, and end up making their way into cities where they live and work illegally without documents.

Landau says he is encouraged that the ANC seems to be discussing the issue in an open and transparent way, but is concerned that more needs to be done to allay locals fears about immigrants. Research shows that immigrants create trade and jobs rather than taking jobs away.

I would have liked to see more research going into it and many more facts. There are a lot of presumptions and assertions which need to be challenged.

Loren Landau South African Research Chair Mobility and the Politics of Difference African Centre for Migration & Society Wits University

At the end of the day, he says, given the anti immigrant climate the world over right now, the green paper is a reasonable document.

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