Alarming Rise in Asylum Backlog Despite Fall in Applications

Updated 28 June 2022: Freemovement: Briefing: the real state of the UK asylum system

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The United Kingdom’s asylum system has been described by the current Home Secretary as “broken”. There is some truth in that statement. In many ways, the asylum system is now in a parlous state. What the Home Secretary does not say is that it was she who broke it.

[…] The picture the data presents is of a system that has been overwhelmed. Not by new arrivals but by mismanagement. The people arriving to claim asylum are overwhelmingly refugees and they will, eventually, build new lives for themselves in this country. But they must endure bureaucratic purgatory first, seemingly to cleanse them of the supposed sin of irregular arrival. Waiting times for a decision run to years, during which time these refugees are forbidden from work, and forced to endure destitution-level support and temporary accommodation. As well as being bad for the refugees, it is causes an unnecessary charge on the public purse. And then, at the end of the process, despite all the tough posturing by the Home Secretary, almost no-one is removed anyway.

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Reckless ‘Nationality & Borders’ legislation

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.

Updated 28 June 2022: Freemovement: Humanitarian protection is being downgraded from 28 June 2022

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What will be the impact of the changes?

These changes mean that the grant of permission made to a person recognised as in need of humanitarian protection has been halved, and the amount of time that they need to spend in the UK before being able to settle here has been doubled. Instead of two applications until settlement, each person must now make up to five: the initial application, the extension from two and a half to five years, then to seven and a half, and then to ten years. Only then may they be eligible to apply for indefinite leave.

In the last year, humanitarian protection has been granted to people from Yemen, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and El Salvador, amongst others. In 2018 there were 1,296 grants of humanitarian protection, 1,235 in 2019, 1,005 in 2020 and 942 in 2021.

The human cost of this prolonged period of uncertainty and the need to continue to engage with the Home Office at such regular intervals will be huge. The department is already unable to process asylum-related applications in a timely manner.

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Ending Immigration Detention

Sadly – expanding the detention estate:

Updated 28 June 2022: Blueprint for new IRC

Procurement process starts for IRC as part of New Plan for Immigration

The Home Office has announced initial plans for a new Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in Oxfordshire.

Today (28 June 2022) the department has started the first stages of the procurement to operate a new IRC on the site of the former Campsfield House.

The new IRC, which will be a secure facility and will accommodate men only, will not be operational until at least late 2023. The Home Office will be engaging local authorities, the local MP, police and other partners as plans are developed.

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Refugee Week – Events in June 2022

Refugee Week:

Updated 28 June 2022: On the 29th [9 to 10am] and 30th June [9.30 to 10.30am] 2022, Refugees for Justice will be at Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL 

to support their member challenging Home Secretary to have an public, transparent, and impartial inquiry into the situation of moving asylum seekers into hotels during the pandemic, which led to the Park-inn tragedy, 6 people were stabbed including a police officer and 1 asylum seeker shot dead.

Please share this poster and use the #ENDHOTELDETENTION during the court day 29th &30th June 2022 and from now; and if you are around London and if you could attend please turn up and let’s show support for a public, transparent inquiry, Justice must be served, there must be accountability, and we need to make change in the approach and the treatment of asylum seekers.

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Concerns about the use of army barracks, hotels, offshoring etc.

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation and hotels, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites such as Haasockfield/Derwent, and Rwanda:

Care4Calais: #StopRwanda

Updated 27 June 2022: Stop Rwanda Flights: demonstration in London on 19 July 2022

Care4Calais: On Tuesday 19 July 2022, we will go to court again for the hearing to decide whether the Rwanda policy itself is lawful.

This demonstration is called jointly by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Care4Calais, Stand Up To Racism and supported by unions including PCS Union, UNISON, Unite the union, National Geographic Education, GMB Union, The Communication Workers Union, Fire Brigades Union, NASUWT, ASLEF – The UK Train Drivers’ Union, UCU – University and College Union and Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union – BFAWU, as well as Refugee Council, @Citizenship Coalition, Amnesty International UK, StatusNow4All.

Tuesday 19 July will be a day of action where in workplaces, colleges and communities we are asking you to join the 11am – 12 noon Twitterstorm, by holding up posters for selfies and sharing your pictures on all social media platforms, especially Twitter, with using #StopRwanda

Continue reading “Concerns about the use of army barracks, hotels, offshoring etc.”

Stop the deportations

See this post: Public Order Bill is a Threat

Updated 27 June 2022: Removal of women to Nigeria planned for 29 June 2022

Guardian: Women with children in UK face deportation to Nigeria and Ghana

Human rights campaigners raise range of safety concerns over planned removal of people on Home Office charter flight this week

Mothers and grandmothers, some of whom have lived in the UK for decades, are among those facing deportation to Nigeria and Ghana on a controversial Home Office charter flight on Wednesday.

Women the Guardian has spoken to estimate that at least 10 of them are facing removal. It is unusual to see such a large number of women on a deportation flight to the west African countries.

Some suffer from severe mental health problems and are on anti-psychotic medication.

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Enabling Nurse Daisy

Updated 27 June 2022: Moses at Hassockfield/Derwent Immigration Removal Centre: on 26 June 2022.

Today the Activist family gathered at the Derwentside Immigration Centre in Durham. We came to stand in solidarity with the women detained in this appalling manner. Our main focus this time is that there are a number of women due to be deported to Nigeria on the 29th June 2022.

This demonstration is an emergency call by the Activist family in the North East. It is inhumane for the Home Office to exercise these removals. These women are seeking protection and sanctuary here in Britain. To see women locked up is the most difficult and painful thing to comprehend.

We want to see these facilities used for recreational purposes rather than locking people up. It is shame on our Government to put people in detentions.

SET HER FREE – we will continue chanting this slogan until victory is final.

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Racism underpins the hostile environment

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.

Updated 25 June 2022: Independent: Celebrities urge Commonwealth leaders to condemn ‘offensive’ Rwanda asylum plan

Celebrities including Olympian Anita Asante and actress Dame Emma Thompson have urged Commonwealth leaders to stand against Britain’s “ill-planned” and “offensive” scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

More than 20 high-profile names have penned an open letter to attendees of this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Rwanda, describing the controversial plan as a “scandalous affront” to Africa and the rest of the world.

Many of the signatories have heritage from African Commonwealth countries, including the actress Sophie Okonedo, and actors Martins Imhangbe and Lucian Msamati.

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Further Housing issues

Updated 25 June 2022: Guardian/Observer: Revealed: dozens of vulnerable asylum seekers have died in Home Office housing since 2020

Data shows number of deaths is higher than admitted as experts question safeguarding and fear chances to save lives were missed

Dozens of asylum seekers who were officially recognised by the Home Office as vulnerable and potentially in need of protection have died in government accommodation, with previously undisclosed internal documents suggesting a number of the cases involved safeguarding failings.

New data obtained in a joint investigation by the Observer and Liberty Investigates has found at least 107 deaths of asylum seekers who were provided with Home Office housing between April 2016 and May 2022, far more than officially admitted. Eighty-two have died since January 2020.

At least 17 people died by suicide or suspected suicide, according to analysis of Home Office records released under information laws. Half of those who have died since the start of 2020 (41) were flagged as having a “safeguarding element” – a label officials assign to individuals recognised as having vulnerabilities or needs such as a health problem.

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Spotlight on the impact of Statelessness

Updated 24 June 2022: European Network on Statelessness: : BRIEFING #3: Protection gaps for stateless refugees from Ukraine

Our analysis of routes to protection for refugees from Ukraine in 17 European countries1 shows that there are significant protection gaps across Europe for stateless people. To prevent discrimination, avoid over-burdening asylum procedures, and facilitate eventual safe return to Ukraine, it is imperative that these gaps are addressed by national and regional authorities.

Information for stateless people and those at risk of statelessness fleeing Ukraine

United Kingdom: Information for stateless people and those at risk of statelessness fleeing Ukraine Although the UK authorities have expressed support for those arriving in the UK from Ukraine, the immigration rules are complex and restrictive. A visa is needed to enter the UK. The UK has set up the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, which allow people fleeing the war in Ukraine to join their family members in the UK (or their family members) or a person who has offered to sponsor them. The schemes are mostly applicable to Ukrainian nationals. Although some stateless people and people at risk of statelessness may be eligible if they meet the family member criteria for the Ukraine Family Scheme, or if they have evidence of a Ukrainian immediate family member for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, people who lack documentation may face practical difficulties in accessing the scheme.

Stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness, unless they are eligible to enter through another avenue (e.g. if they are family members of a Ukrainian national who may apply for a scheme or visa) may only enter the UK by applying for asylum. No data has been published on entry and protection granted to stateless persons fleeing Ukraine. Applications for asylum cannot be made from outside the UK, applicants should inform a Border Force Officer on arrival that they wish to claim asylum.

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International Federation of Iraqi Refugees claims that man was subjected to inhumane treatment during attempted deportation to Rwanda

The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) has set out a formal complaint against the actions of the UK Border Agency with regard to its treatment of asylum seekers threatened with removal to Rwanda.  The Federation has asked that this matter be investigated by the European Court of Human Rights.

At the centre of the complaint is the treatment of Mr Rasti Mohammadi, a 26 year old Kurd with Iraqi nationality who had been informed that the Border Agency intended to deport him on the planned flight to Rwanda despite having made an application for protection as a refugee in the UK.

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Status Now Refugee Week event

Event on 20 June 2022: Status Now Refugee Week event: How do we campaign against the hostile environment?

Status Now Refugee Week Event “How do we hold the Government to account for its Hostile Environment?”

The setback in the Court of Appeal over the challenge to refugee deportations to Rwanda has added urgency to the task of fighting for the human rights of migrant people.

Watch the recording of this hybrid event – zoom and live in London:

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Home Affairs Committee interviews David Neal, ICIBI – Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

15 June 2022: Home Affairs Committee Oral evidence:  Migration and asylum, HC 197 on 8 June 2022. The witness is David Neal, ICIBI – Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration:

Members present: Dame Diana Johnson (Chair); Ms Diane Abbott; Paula Barker; Tim Loughton; Stuart C McDonald; Matt Vickers

Read the transcript:

Watch the meeting

This interview raises many interesting issues about the relationship between ICIBI, Priti Patel and Home Office Ministers; about David Neal’s use of his role; and about the limitations of the system in keeping the system to account.

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Some good news

12 June 2022: Guardian: 200 protesters block immigration officers’ van during Peckham arrest

Met police called to help enforcement officers get past crowd of demonstrators after Nigerian man detained for overstaying visa

A man arrested for immigration offences was released on bail after protesters gathered in south-east London on Saturday for hours to block a van he was being transported in from leaving.

Video footage posted on Twitter showed a crowd of about 200 people sitting on the ground in front of the vehicle in Peckham while another clip showed members of the public standing and shouting “let him go”.

Read more:

6 May 2022: BBC: Former Glasgow Girl refugee Roza Salih becomes a councillor

Roza Salih has become the first refugee to be elected to Glasgow City Council.

The 33-year-old has been elected for the SNP to represent the Greater Pollok ward.

Ms Salih has campaigned for the rights of refugees since she was a teenager and with school friends formed the activism group the Glasgow Girls.

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