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.

February 2023: Guardian: Alf Dubs: Braverman calling refugees ‘invaders’ was low point of my career

Labour peer who fled to UK to escape Nazis says home secretary’s words ‘deeply and personally upsetting.

Alf Dubs, the veteran Labour peer who arrived in the UK as a child fleeing the Nazis, has described Suella Braveman’s likening of refugees to invaders as “deeply and personally upsetting”, and a low point of his half century in politics.

Dubs, who fled what was then Czechoslovakia unaccompanied in 1939 and came to the UK aged six as part of the Kindertransport system, condemned the home secretary for using language that painted those also fleeing persecution as “hostile people”.

Dubs’ comments, made in a new podcast series presented by the Lord Speaker, John McFall, follow criticism of Braverman by another survivor of the Holocaust last month.

In comments made in October, shortly after she was reappointed by Rishi Sunak, Braverman said in the Commons that refugees and migrants crossing the Channel in small boats were “the invasion on our southern coast”.

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Disappearing children

29 January 2023: The Observer view on Britain’s shameful failings on child refugees

Observer editorial

Abused, kidnapped and lost – the government should hang its head in shame over its lack of care towards vulnerable minors

Unaccompanied children fleeing war, torture and chaos are surely one of the most vulnerable demographics in the world. Yet an Observer investigation has exposed how once these children reach the UK they can be treated with an appalling lack of care, to the extent that large numbers are being kidnapped in plain sight by criminal gangs. Today, we publish allegations by a whistleblower that the staff in one hotel accommodating some of these already traumatised children have subjected them to repeated emotional abuse.

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, has met some of the children being housed in a hotel in his constituency. He has described their vulnerability: one 15-year-old from Iran who had lost both of his parents travelled to the UK with a friend but was separated from him because he tested positive for Covid and was so anxious “his face was pinched and his legs were buckling”. The majority of unaccompanied children arriving in Britain come from countries with terrible records of conflict and human rights abuses: Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Many will be in immediate danger from the criminal gangs to whom they owe money for smuggling them into the country.

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Modern Slavery and Trafficking

Updated 27 January 2023: ECPAT: Over 100 charities call for action on children going missing from Home Office hotels, at risk of trafficking and exploitation

  • Charities including NSPCC, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, ECPAT UK and the Refugee Council have written to the Prime Minister
  • Hundreds of children have gone missing from hotels and are suspected of being trafficked and exploited
  • The Home Office is unlawfully housing separated children in unsafe hotels, where they could be targeted by criminals

Over 100 charities from the refugee and children’s sectors have written to the Prime Minister today to express their grave concern about separated children seeking asylum going missing from Home Office hotels. The children are suspected of being exploited and are accommodated outside of the UK’s child welfare framework which applies to all children, regardless of their immigration status.

In the open letter coordinated by ECPAT UK and the Refugee Council, charities including major UK children’s charities NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, Coram, The Children’s Society and National Children’s Bureau, are calling for the Home Office to stop accommodating separated children in hotels with no further delays. They are also calling for children to be cared for by local authority children’s social care, according to the law and with all the safeguards that brings, including having OFSTED oversight, and for an urgent independent inquiry:

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HRW World Report 2023

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2023: Our Annual Review Of Human Rights Around The Globe

‘This is the overarching lesson of our ever-more disrupted world: we need to reimagine how power in the world is exercised, and that all governments not only have the opportunity but the responsibility to take action to protect human rights within and beyond their borders.’

World Report 2023 Says UK Policies Raise ‘Grave Human Rights Concerns’

“In 2022, we saw the most significant assault on human rights protections in the UK in decades,” said Yasmine Ahmed, UK director at Human Rights Watch. “From your right to protest to your ability to hold institutions to account, fundamental and hard-won rights are being systematically dismantled.” 

Human Rights Watch highlighted several laws introduced in 2022 that had the effect of significantly weakening human rights protections. The UK government introduced laws that stripped rights of asylum seekers and other vulnerable people, encouraged voter disenfranchisement, limited judicial oversight of government actions, and placed new restrictions on the right to peaceful protest. 

The government also proposed the repeal and replacement of the Human Rights Act, which gives life to the European Convention on Human Rights in the United Kingdom, with a so-called Bill of Rights. Human Rights Watch said the bill, if adopted, would fundamentally undermine human rights protections in the UK. 

As these rights were being stripped away.

Read more: Human Right Watch, http://www.hrw.org/news/2023/01/12/human-rights-watch-issues-damning-verdict-uk

StatusNow4All Newsletter January 2023

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 analyses the renewed government attacks on the rights of migrants and invites all movements for migrant justice to come together and intensify our campaigns to defeat them. 
The second article reports the launch of the antiracist network promoted by the Trade Union Congress.
A call for the rights of domestic workers by our signatory Waling Waling is the topic of our third article, while a contribution by our signatory Migrant Voice denounces the horrible conditions experienced by asylum seekers in London hotels.
Finally we welcome our new signatory Migrant Democracy Project. 
Continue reading “StatusNow4All Newsletter January 2023”

Campaigning for better conditions of asylum seekers in London hotels

Migrant Voice have been engaging with asylum seekers accommodated in hotels across London, to learn about their conditions and experiences.

We are currently conducting a survey and we will be launching a report on the conditions and experiences of asylum seekers as part of a campaign to give them a voice and improve their situation.

The campaign came about from hearing from a number of asylum seekers in hotels and organisations supporting them. We learnt that some of the hotels are overcrowded, with some having up to ten people in one room and one toilet for the whole floor. We’ve heard complaints about the quality of the food, the lack of support, the mistreatment from some staff, lengthy waiting times in hotels which can exceed a year and a half, and lack of communication from the Home Office.

Among the asylum seekers are families, children and women, some of whom pregnant, who did not receive proper care. We are aware of women who have not been moved out of the hotel, even after giving birth.

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Britain’s unions launch of anti racist network

The inaugural meeting of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) anti racist network took place in London last November.

It was attended by about 50 people, The overwhelming majority of them were migrant and migrant advocate organisations’ members.

The discussion stressed the importance that all workers, whatever their immigration status is, get organised to stop exploitation, and showed a general wish to see a permanent network created and coordinated by the TUC.

A number of thought provoking speakers were heard (including  Emmanuelle Andrews, Liberty; Fizza Qureshi, Migrants Rights Network; Gargi Bhattacharyya, TUC Race Relations Committee; Liam Shrivastava, Institute of Race Relations; Sereena Abbassi, gal-dem; Sophie Chauhan, Dalston Superstore). The Government’s anti migrant and racist legislation was condemned and it was evident that the TUC and individual Unions accepted that they must do much more, both in challenging racism and organising precarious workers.

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Waling Waling’s call for the rights of domestic workers

Waling Waling: In 1997/98 the then Labour government accepted that domestic work in the private household would be recognised as work in employment legislation. 

This followed a ten-year long campaign organised by Kalayaan, Waling Waling, the Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) and fully supported by the Transport & General Workers Union, now Unite.  Other organisations and individuals including parliamentarians in both Houses and in the European Parliament supported the campaign over the years.  Disgracefully, in 2012 the then Home Secretary in the coalition government, Teresa May abolished the domestic worker visa with rights and protections, saying that future domestic workers would be protected under the Modern Slavery Act, thereby reducing workers with legal rights and protections to victims with the promise of protection.  This system simply doesn’t work.

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Welcome to 2023, as the government renews its attacks on the rights of migrants

StatusNow4All: Welcome to 2023, as the government renews its attacks on the rights of migrants

The New Year was underway before the prime minister offered up his ‘five pledges’ to the nation, one of which being to stop “small boats” crossing the Channel.  The use of phrase is intended to put a benign gloss on a political programme which aims at a final end to the right to seek asylum in the UK.

The right wing of Mr Sunak’s party sees a renewed attack on the rights of migrants as the only chance the Conservative party has of digging itself out of the deep hole of its current unpopularity and winning a general election sometime in 2024. They are prepared to throw everything they have got at the task of ending all vestiges of migrant and refugee rights and returning to the hostile environment policies which produced the ‘Windrush generation’ scandal of 2017. 

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Concerns about the use of army barracks, hotels, housing

This post is being updated with reports of examples of atrocities around the army camp accommodation and hotels, and other Home Office housing

For information about Detention Centres – IRCs – Hassockfield/Derwentside please see here: https://statusnow4all.org/detention-centres-ircs/

For information about off-shoring/exporting people seeking asylum/Rwanda please see here: https://statusnow4all.org/exporting-people-seeking-asylum-rwanda/:


Update 16 December 2022: from our signatory organisation RAPAR:

PRESS RELEASE from @raparuk 16th Dec. 2022: Whistleblower speaks out about safeguarding, racism and scabies at Serco’s asylum “hotel” in Warrington

https://buff.ly/3hygtgQ

and:

Please help raise money for Shay Babagar and @RAPARUK to build on Shay’s 35-day hunger strike to challenge Serco’s treatment of ‘hotel’ residents seeking asylum.
Justgiving: https://buff.ly/3BDx5dO

Campaign flyer: https://buff.ly/3j4CG6D
About campaign: https://buff.ly/3VYnZ3B


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Rishi Sunak PM in Parliament 13 December 2022

This is the original concern: BBC: Rishi Sunak pledges more staff to help clear asylum backlog

(see article at the end of this post for details)


Quakers in Britain responded: Vulnerable people who arrive on our shores should be treated fairly under international law, Quakers say

Quakers believe that all people are precious, everywhere. Today they speak out yet again against the UK government’s plans on migration which continue to embed policies of discrimination into the practices of the British state.

Embroidered butterfly reads migration is beautiful
Vulnerable people who arrive on our shores should be treated fairly under international law, Quakers say, photo credit: Quakers in Britain – artwork by Rosemary Crawley

Announcing his latest plans for the asylum system, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said new legislation would make it clear that those entering the UK by unsafe and irregular routes would not be able to remain.

But the Prime Minister’s plans, announced on Tuesday 13 December, criminalise those seeking sanctuary and contravene the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, of which the UK was a founding signatory.

The UK should do more to promote peace and climate justice abroad, allowing people to live safely at home, rather than being forced to take often life-threatening routes to safety, said Oliver Robertson, head of witness and worship at Quakers in Britain.

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Home Office Research Report on Why Asylum Seekers Come to the UK

30 November 2022: Freemovement: Social networks often play an important role in shaping migrant decision-making and movements.

Where migrants can exert a degree of agency over their destination choice, social networks often play an important role in shaping their journeys. These networks are usually understood to comprise friends and family members, community organisations and intermediaries.

Economic rights do not act as a pull factor for asylum seekers. A review of the relationship between Right to Work and numbers of asylum applications concluded that no study reported a long-term correlation between labour market access and destination choice. Very few migrants have any experience of a welfare state such as exists in the UK and imagine that they will be able to (if not expected to) work and support themselves upon arrival.

Evidence does not suggest that grant rate has a significant impact on an asylum seeker’s choice of destination, and it is not clear whether migrants have accurate information on grant rates. Social networks, shared languages and diaspora communities more likely motivate asylum seekers to reach certain destinations.

What might explain why some migrants travel from France to the UK to claim asylum?

For those living in these makeshift camps, life is often uncertain and precarious, with camp clearances and forced evictions that can lead to damage and confiscation of personal belongings and reported police brutality and abusive practices. There is often limited access to water and sanitation facilities, while many depend on local associations for food distributions. This may act as a factor driving onward movement out of France, a small portion of which is to the UK.

Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/2yvsdh

THE ASYLUM SEEKER MEMORIAL PROJECT

THE ASYLUM SEEKER MEMORIAL PROJECT

THE HOME OFFICE DOES NOT PUBLISH DATA ON THE DEATHS OF ASYLUM SEEKERS IN ITS HOUSING…

… despite calls from experts and campaigners to do so. We set out to gather as much information as possible about each of them. Here, we tell their stories. https://www.asylumseekermemorial.co.uk/

This is a journalistic project bearing witness to the stories of those who have died while provided with asylum seeker housing in Britain since 2016.

Asylum seekers are generally barred from working while they await the result of their claim. Many can’t afford to live. The Government has a duty to house them during this time.

In 2020, amid a growing backlog in asylum case decisions and the pressures of the pandemic, the Home Office expanded its use of contingency accommodation including ex-military barracks and hotels. In these and other types of asylum seeker housing – provided under contract by private firms Clearsprings Ready Homes, Mears, Serco – reports arose of poor living conditions and problems accessing medical care.

The Government doesn’t publish data on deaths in this accommodation, so our journalists set out to gather it.

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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.

Institute of Race Relations/John O: Calendar of Racism and Resistance Monday 22nd November to Sunday 27th November Callous Indifference: Remembering 32 Lives Lost in the Channel

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.

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