They have been fighting for justice for seven years since the government responded to a TV programme about cheating in the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) by suddenly terminating the visas of 34,000 overseas students, making their presence here illegal overnight. A further 22,000 were told that their test results were “questionable”. More than 2,400 students were deported.
“The support that is being offered to Afghans highlights the lack of help and resource being given to people fleeing similar threat and oppression elsewhere.” Sir Peter Soulsby, City Mayor for Leicester
The plight of the Afghan people who are now fleeing from their homes is prompting positive and compassionate responses from a wide range of bodies and groupings across the UK. Councils such as Abergavenny, and conurbations such as Greater Manchester and Liverpool are receiving some additional monies via the Home Office to house people. However, as Sir Peter Soulsby, City Mayor for Leicester, an organisational signatory to the Status Now Network has observed to us this morning:
“As we have always done, Leicester will welcome those seeking refuge from conflict and oppression. We will be taking the opportunity to participate in the resettlement scheme announced today as a response to the truly awful situation in Afghanistan. We expect that resources will be provided to local councils so that we can provide and co-ordinate the support that will be needed. Leicester will proudly offer sanctuary and a new home to Afghans fleeing the Taliban. The support that is being offered to Afghans highlights the lack of help and resource being given to people fleeing similar threat and oppression elsewhere. These people too are welcome in Leicester and deserve better from the government.“
Only seven people were deported to Jamaica on a Home Office charter plane in the early hours of Wednesday morning at an estimated cost of £43,000 a person, despite 90 being earmarked originally for the flight.
Concerns were raised about the UK’s decision to go ahead with the flight due to opposition from the Jamaican government because of Covid worries. Fears were also expressed about the vulnerability of some of those due to fly because of trafficking indicators and mental health problems.
A series of urgent high court injunction applications seeking to block some of the deportations continued almost until the flight took off at 1am on Wednesday morning.