Welcome to this edition of SNN newsletter where we are covering a number of items that will be of interest to everyone involved in migrant and refugee solidarity work.
The first article calls for a discussion to re-launch our campaign for migrants’ rights in the present political turmoil
The second highlights the important outcomes of the Trade Union Congress and their relevance to further develop solidarity and union between the workers’ movement and the anti-racist movement.
Our third article reports a network meeting in London to discuss the impact of cost of living crisis on migrants. The meeting was organized by our signatory Migrant Voice and a representative of Status Now for All was one of the speakers.
The last article reports an event organized by Status Now North West in Manchester to celebrate Black History Month.
Finally we update on SNN plan for an away weekend strategy event.
Status Now 4 All Network: Comms and social media volunteer(s)
Status Now 4 All Network (Status Now) came into existence in the spring of 2020 as an initiative of migrant and refugee justice campaigns in the UK. Over 130 organisations have endorsed the Network’s demand on the government to grant a secure right of residence to the estimated 1.5 million people currently living with a precarious immigration status and who are at constant risk of exploitation and loss of rights as a consequence.
Status Now is campaigning for change and it works for this by giving voice to people in the migrant and refugee communities whose situation needs to be better understood by the British public. When the extent of the injustices which migrants and refugees currently have to endure is understood across all people we believe we will have the momentum needed to achieve our key demand: Status Now for All!
To develop and strengthen our campaigning work we are now actively recruiting volunteers for our team of communications and social media activists. We are looking for people with lived experience of the immigration control system who will work with us as bloggers in Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms.
Here’s what will be done with this campaigning work:
RE: ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE, HOUSING AND FOOD FOR ALL
On March 27th 2020 we called upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in Leave to Remain. (Copy enclosed)
“Not having my status limits my joy, my happiness, nothing makes me excited. People take advantage.
I cannot even work. The pain is terrible. Terrible. People cry at night. There are suicides.
In limbo, I cannot do anything I want to do, and I don’t know what is going to happen to me.
Locked down all the time, not just now. Let us have a chance.”
(Voices of people without status)
Who we are: The Status Now Network is a unique coalition of almost 130 organisations and community action groups, alongside individuals, who are campaigning for Status Now 4 All. Our member organisations are listed on our website: https://statusnow4all.org.
We call upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in *Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else.
There are many many examples of racism in UK and beyond, coming to our attention daily and it is racism that has enabled the hostile environment to take hold such that people are left in a situation where they fear the potential threat to their safety from the Home Office more than they fear the threat to their own lives of the Covid pandemic.
Below, you will find just a small selection of reports about the way in which racism shows itself.
Exactly a year ago, a dinghy with 34 people on board sank in the English Channel. There were two survivors. In the three hours it took for the boat to sink, as distress messages flooded in from those on board, French and British coastguards debated whose responsibility it was to rescue them. No help came, as one by one the passengers died of cold or drowned. As this week’s Calendar of Racism and Resistance shows, the body investigating the deaths – the worst loss of life in the Channel in over 30 years – the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), will not present its findings until at least early summer next year, and has not yet been in touch with most of the families of those who died, despite being sent their contact details. The families have also been denied access to recordings of their loved ones’ final calls for help. The unmistakable message conveyed by such responses is that these deaths don’t matter and that the families of the deceased are unworthy of respect.
Migrant Rights Network has published the Government’s response to their joint letter in relation to the extent to which modern slavery victims can challenge deportations. Migrants at Work, BID, FLEX, and BASNET wrote a joint letter to the Home Secretary on the 10th of October. This was in response to concerns about her plans to restrict migrants from being able to challenge deportations on the basis that they had been subject to forced labour or human trafficking. The Home Secretary contends that the system has been subject to abuse as the number of those claiming to suffer from modern slavery doubled between 2017 and 2020 from 5,141 to 10,613.
The joint letter highlights the importance of the courts and access to judicial scrutiny in ensuring justice, especially for those most vulnerable in society that may be subject to deportation. The Home Office has a preference to remove victims, which critics argue neglects their duty to protect people from trafficking. To support this statement, they cite a case where the Home Office was forced to pay £25,000 in damages after unlawfully trying to deport a trafficking victim and claims made in interviews that Albanians are misusing the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). Civil society organisations refute this claim using the Government’s statistics that Albanians are the 2nd highest nationality under the Duty to Notify (an increase of 47% since 2021), suggesting that many Albanians are not entering the NRM, despite the likelihood that they are victims of trafficking. The joint letter makes clear that any attempts to crack down on modern slavery are undermined if deportations cannot be challenged by those at risk of trafficking and labour abuse as victims will be reluctant to come forward and report abuses.
Detention Action has welcomed reports that all people held at the Manston Short-Term Holding Facility have now been moved into alternative accommodation elsewhere. The rapid emptying of the facility took place after Detention Action, PCS Union and a woman held at the facility issued the first legal action against the Home Secretary for her mistreatment of people held at the site. On Monday 1st November, an urgent, pre-action letter was sent to the office of the Home Secretary on behalf of Detention Action and a woman held at the Manston facility. PCS Union, which represents Border Force and Home Office staff working at the facility, later joined the legal challenge. The Home Secretary was offered a week to respond to the pre-action letter. After a week, the Home Secretary’s lawyers requested an extension of the deadline for response, which was granted by the claimants. However, no substantive response was received by the extended deadline. A written response from the Home Secretary’s lawyers was received five days after the extended deadline, only once the Manston site had been emptied. Although the site has been emptied, the Home Secretary has made no announcement to close the site.
We continue to campaign for those who have precarious status to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain and for there to be discussions about how to move forward with the banners of #StatusNow4All and #HealthAndSafety4All.
When the will is there, it can be done – that is our point: there is hope yet … We will collate reports and legal challenges here.
“The session will focus on a range of issues related to the asylum and immigration system. This is likely to include the Government’s strategies to cut the processing backlog and ensure adequate accommodation for those claiming asylum in the UK. It will also scrutinise the Government’s attempts to reduce the numbers of people attempting to cross the Channel in small boats, in particular the recently signed agreement with France and the future of the migration deal with Rwanda.”
We are inviting you to tell us about your experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. By taking part, you help us to understand the effect of Covid-19, the response of the authorities, and any lessons that can be learned.
‘Share your experience’ is an online form that asks you to choose from a list of topics and then tell us about what happened. We’ll also ask you some questions about yourself and your circumstances. These questions are optional, but very helpful if answered, as they help us to build a full picture of how Covid-19 affected people with different characteristics and circumstances across the UK.
We’re working to improve this service. After sharing your experience you can send us feedback that will help shape what we build for the next version.
At this time you must be aged 18 or over to share your experience. Your answers will be saved anonymously.
Are you in the UK without immigration status (a visa)? Getting regular status can be difficult, and there is lots of advice out there. Some of this advice is not up-to-date, and people may ask for lots of money for legal advice, even if they are not qualified to give it.
This page contains information about some of the ways that people without status can apply for a visa. This page was written in September 2022 and will be updated regularly.
This page has information on the different routes people can use to apply for status, and what kind of status people get if they are successful.
If you are in the UK without immigration status, you can call our helpline and get advice from an immigration lawyer for free. The helpline is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 and 13:00. You can call 020 7553 7470 to speak to somebody.
You can also contact your local Law Centre to ask for some advice. You can find your local Law Centre here.
This page contains advice on (click on the links):
An asylum seeker has now gone fifteen days without food as part of a hunger strike against what he calls “inhumane and degrading” treatment by Home Office-contracted staff at a Stockport hotel.
Hasan, whose name we have changed, was housed in the hotel – which is run by contractor Serco – by the Home Office. He is one of over 100 asylum seekers at the hotel who are waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.
Hasan’s condition deteriorated following his hunger strike, and he was taken to hospital.Speaking for the first time, he sent ITV News a video from his hospital bed – via the Manchester charity RAPAR – where he said he felt forced to take action.”I am seeking to end, or at least reduce, the harm caused to my family by the inhumane and degrading treatment to which we and others have been subjected by Serco”, he said.
On 24 November, 32 lives were lost in the Channel when British and French authorities ignored desperate calls for help as the boat began to capsize.
We will never let the lives that were lost on the 24 November 2021 be forgotten. For the victims and their families, we demand justice.
Stand Up To Racism, Care4Calais and the TUC are organising a vigil to take place on 24 November, 6pm, outside Westminster Abbey at Parliament Square. We will say the names of those lost, and gather to condemn the racist hostile environment that is being intensified by Suella Braverman and the government.
There will be further protests about removals to Rwanda:
Protests on 5 September due to postponement of court hearing date!! following the Care4Calais & PCS Union’s legal challenge, the case will go to court again for a hearing to decide whether the Rwanda policy itself is lawful. See reports below
Stronger Action Needed to End ‘Legal Limbo’ of Statelessness Statelessness is “a pervasive and grave human rights violation”, “Deprived of the fundamental right to a nationality, those who have been born or left stateless face a devastating legal limbo. They are prevented from accessing their basic human rights and from fully participating in society. Their lives are marked by exclusion, deprivation, and marginalization.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi made the appeal as Friday marked the eighth anniversary of #IBelong, a campaign launched by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, aimed at ending stateless within a decade, or by 2024.
Successive hard-right home secretaries have created a Home Office that prioritises immigration figures over human rights
In the four years since she arrived in the UK, 56-year-old Josephine Sipiwe Jenje-Mudimbu’s life has shifted from one of hope to one of daily, grinding fear.
Josy, as she’s better known, is an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe, who’s currently staying with a friend and fellow Quaker in Norton, Stockton-on Tees. Six weeks ago, Josy was left needing crutches after being injured when six enforcement officers tried to collect her for deportation.
Though Josy’s deportation was prevented by a last-minute legal appeal, she’s been traumatised by the experience, and fears officers could come for her again at any time.