This article examines the detention and deportation of time-served foreign national prisoners in England and Wales. Drawing on penal policy and interviews with staff and detainees in prisons and immigration removal centres, it critically assesses the growing interdependence of the UK Border Agency and HM Prison Service. Whereas the removal of failed asylum seekers has generated widespread concern and activism, the deportation of foreign ex-prisoners is rarely noted. The foreign offender, it seems, has few advocates.
For anyone interested in immigration control, however, the treatment of foreign national prisoners, both during and after their sentence, is compelling. On the one hand, they reveal a wider and deeper border, one that includes penal institutions located within the nation state. Along these lines, the absence of citizenship enables harsher and longer punishments, as ex-prisoners may be held for considerable periods of time post-sentence due to their complex immigration cases. On the other hand, however, the treatment of foreign ex-prisoners is not uncontested prison employees and staff within the immigration estate express concern at their treatment under Immigration Act powers. In short, this article suggests that the detention and deportation of foreign ex-prisoners raise a number of troubling questions about both the nature of governance and the limits of the liberal project of inclusion in late modern Britain.