18 August 2014

South Africa: Op-Ed - 'Undesirable Persons' - the Immigration Law That Is Cruel and Inhumane

Photo: Shervorn Monaghan/IRIN
A "transporter" who helps smuggle Zimbabweans into South Africa across the border fence (file photo).

Given the Constitutional Court's previous judgment and the loaded history of expelling persons labelled "undesirable", it is difficult to conceive of a constitutional justification for banning people from the country. Yet equally "undesirable" immigration laws remain.

In 2010, after my first year of law school, I spent two months as an intern at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg. It was the year of the World Cup and the city was alive with music and colour. Every evening, crowds of South Africans, Italians, Columbians, Americans, Kenyans and others gathered in bars, parks and stadiums across the country united in their passion for the game. I fell in love with Johannesburg that winter and part of me has felt at home here ever since.

2010 was also the year I met my husband. He was a lawyer, like me, and he had a gentle kindness I admired. Over the next two years we travelled back and forth between Johannesburg and New York, weighing one city against the other, debating where to make our home together. Johannesburg easily won in the end: good weather, wonderful people, and for two young lawyers, a progressive Constitution with so much potential to...

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