Corporate practices in the administration of Europe’s undocumented immigrants lives: a point system

When I wrote about “the asylum seeker industrial complex” a few weeks ago I referred to both the EU’s need of the figure of the “asylum seeker” for the perpetuation of the universal human rights myth and the corporations that profit from the administration of these lives. I also objected to the category of “asylum seeker” as the only migrant experience that is coded both in the law and media, erasing the multitude of political and economic reasons behind human displacement in the Global South. Today, I came across a blood chilling post at the EU Observer, Private firms put price tag on migrant suicides. From the piece:

Private security companies operating UK-based immigrant removal centres (IRC)* use formulas to calculate the profit loss incurred by detainees who commit suicide under their watch.

A handful of immigrants, set for deportation, have managed to kill themselves at the facilities over the years. The UK Border Agency, has in some other cases, refused to disclose the cause of death.[…]

The profit formula is based on a performance point system that attributes numerical figures to a list of possible infractions based on a self-auditing process.[…]

If a Serco guard forgets to lock a door at Colnbrook, then the company is fined 50 points. If a detainee is caught climbing onto the roof, it is fined 10 points.

Fifty points are given if a guard fails to report an incident of torture to the manager.

An incident resulting in self-harm is 20 points.

Suicide is 300 points.

The sum is then entered into a formula to determine how much they get paid, although the monetary value of the points is redacted in the contract.

Every instance of a detainee’s harm is a loss of profit for the corporations in charge of the administration of these detention camps. Needless to say, this point system results in the underreporting of violence and dismissal of migrant’s mental health issues.

However, these corporate practices are not limited to privately owned entities that benefit from outsourcing contracts for immigrant detention. This video, posted six days ago by Frontex, the European agency in charge of border control, contains the right mix of militarization and corporate speak that muddles the distinction between the State and privately owned businesses. In the video, European Union officials speak in acronyms about the SQF (Sectoral Qualification Framework) which allows border patrols to be trained across the EU using harmonized education standards. They refer to legal concerns as providing a training that is “Fundamental Rights Compliant” (really, in EU Inc speak, border patrols in charge of rescuing migrants from distressing situations in the middle of the sea should not have empathy or uphold human life, they should be “fundamental rights compliant”). These Frontex officers are then deployed across the European Union where their “compliance” illustrated by this press release from the Greek group “Network Welcome to Europe”, results in actions such as these:

On the 6th of September 2013 two FRONTEX-officers from Italy and Sweden expulsed a family with small children and a pregnant woman from the rooms they were hosted in order to occupy and re-use these rooms as their offices [ED Note: the rooms were located in an NGO building] introducing themselves as European Border Police.

Meanwhile, in the past 16 years, the death count of undocumented migrants due to border militarization, asylum laws, accommodation, detention policy and deportations is currently over 17,000. There is a lot of money to be made by the living and dying in the EU. The “asylum seeker industrial complex” just needs to streamline their profits.

* “Removal centers” are an euphemism for the detention centers where undocumented migrants awaiting deportation can be held for months (or even years).

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