London authorities refuse to cooperate in targeting of rough sleeping migrants

4 December 2020: Freemovement: London authorities refuse to cooperate in targeting of rough sleeping migrants

This week Immigration Rule changes targeting rough sleeping migrants came into force. The Home Office has confirmed that the new Rules will not be enforced until official guidance is published, but the changes have been met with defiance across the board. 

In particular, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has stated that it will not cooperate with the Home Office on this issue:

rather than supporting people to come off the streets, these new rules will punish rough sleepers simply for not having a home. Therefore, the GLA and its commissioned services will not collaborate with such draconian measures.

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Alarming Rise in Asylum Backlog Despite Fall in Applications

30 November 2020: The backlog of asylum cases has reached alarming new heights, with over 46,000 people now waiting more than six months for an initial decision on their asylum application. The figures as of 30 September 2020, which were released today, show a 19% increase from three months earlier and a 76% rise since September 2019. he Home Office has used the backlog as a pretext to accommodate asylum seekers in converted military barracks in Wales and Kent. But the backlog is not an unforeseeable pandemic-induced crisis: it had been rising for several years, at a faster rate than the increase in asylum applications over the same period. Applications did rise by around a third between 2017 and 2019, but the backlog doubled.

The pandemic has made a bad situation worse.

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Home Office accused of cover-up at camp for asylum seekers

Updated with report in the Guardian 26 November 2020: Medical staff urge Priti Patel to close barracks housing asylum seekers

Exclusive: Letter to home secretary raises concerns about sites holding 600 men in Kent and Pembrokeshire

Healthcare professionals have called for former army barracks being used to house asylum seekers to be closed over concerns about the residents’ wellbeing.

Medical staff have written to the home secretary, Priti Patel, with a damning assessment, to raise concerns about the sites at Napier barracks in Kent and Penally barracks in Pembrokeshire, which between them are holding more than 600 men.

The group, represented by Doctors of the World, a human rights organisation, believe the sites are unsuitable due to the lack of access to adequate and appropriate healthcare services and risks from a lack of compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

They also fear the military environment will trigger further trauma for the men, many of whom will have fled conflict, militia and may have been detained in similar environments in their home countries. [Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/nov/26/medical-staff-urge-priti-patel-to-close-barracks-housing-asylum-seekers


23 November 2020: Guardian: Home Office accused of cover-up at camp for asylum seekers

Official Secrets Act used to prevent volunteers discussing ‘disturbing’ conditions at ex-barracks

Volunteers have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements underpinned by the Official Secrets Act before entering an army barracks used to house asylum seekers, as details emerge of the “disturbing” conditions on the site.

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Home Office failed to comply with equality law when implementing ‘hostile environment’ measures

and … Bella Sankey@BellaSankey· Director of @DetentionAction: And it’s officially confirmed. The @ukhomeoffice are planning a pre-Christmas mass deportation of Black British residents to Jamaica on 2nd December. Despite #COVID19 risks they think that they have capacity to deport 50 people on the flight. #Jamaica50@DetentionAction

Note – you can sign this petition: Urgent action needed: Home Office plan pre Christmas mass deportation to Jamaica during lockdown


EHCR: Home Office failed to comply with equality law when implementing ‘hostile environment’ measures Published: 25 Nov 2020

We assessed how and whether the Home Office complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) when developing, implementing and monitoring the hostile environment policy agenda, particularly in considering its impact on Black members of the Windrush generation.

The assessment has found that negative consequences were repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or their severity disregarded at crucial points of policy development. There was limited engagement with representatives of the Windrush generation, even as the severe effects of hostile environment policies began to emerge.

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Asylum seekers forced to travel miles to sign on with Home Office during lockdown

Independent: 17 November 2020: Exclusive: Lawyers prepare to challenge ‘reckless’ decision to continue in-person immigration reporting

Asylum seekers and trafficking victims are being forced to travel miles on public transport despite lockdown restrictions because the Home Office has said they must continue to report to officials in person.

People who are awaiting a decision on their application to remain in the UK – including modern slavery victims and torture survivors – are required to regularly sign on at a Home Office reporting location.  

This requirement was temporarily suspended in March because of the pandemic, but in August and September the Home Office sent texts to people stating that they must start reporting in person again “due to the easing of Covid lockdown measures”.

Since 5 November, when the government announced a second lockdown – telling people to “stay at home” where possible – migrants with reporting conditions have been informed that they must continue to sign on with the Home Office in person.

More chaos and human rights violations

2 November 2020 Guardian: Lone child migrants cannot be put in adult hotels, high court rules

More under-18s seeking asylum likely to be affected by ruling against Hillingdon council

The high court has ruled that unaccompanied child migrants cannot be placed in adult hotel accommodation after three young asylum seekers won the right to be placed in the care of social services in the first case of its kind.

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Today marks one year since 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a lorry in Essex.

Our signatory organisation ‘diakon’ writes: Today marks one year since 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a lorry in Essex.

Join us in a show of remembrance and solidarity: post a photo with the words ‘#RemembertheEssex39‘ and tag @remember.resist (Instagram) / @remember_resist (Twitter)

📖 Read the “Remember the Dead: Justice for the Living” zine featuring writings that attempt to recentre a structural analysis to understand the broader conditions that led to the deaths of the Essex 39 https://issuu.com/daikonzine/docs/essex_39_zine

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‘Off-shoring’ people seeking asylum is not a new idea

Updated 2.10.2020 – following the idea of outposting people in the asylum system to Ascension Island, the Home Office is now considering using old ferries …

Updated 3.10.2020 – Channel 4 news private jet chartered to remove one person to France.

Updated 12.10.2020 – Use of ‘unsanitary’ and ‘unsuitable’ ex-MoD housing

Out of sight, out of mind! The ‘backlog’ can be dealt with by giving people Leave to Remain now, This post is also uploaded to the http://qarn.org.uk website.

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Statement exposing how Home Office plans to restart evictions and continue deportations are irrational and undermine public health

On 15th September 2020, the Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts wrote to Local Authority Chief Executives – you can read the letter here: https://statusnow4all.org/condemnation-of-home-office-decision-to-start-evicting-asylum-seekers-despite-warning-of-second-wave/  

Three days later, 18th September 2020, the Public Accounts Committee  exposed that the Home Office has no idea of the impact of immigration policies and raised serious concerns over the work of the Home Office Immigration Enforcement directorate dating back over several years.  That Home Office ‘work’ has directly interfered in the lives of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, including children in families.  That ‘work’ has resulted in a myriad of humanity-denying actions authorised through Home Office powers, as most recently exemplified in the horrific death of Mercy Baguma.  From within Government structures, the 18th September report placed  massive questions marks over a multitude of migration related Home Office decisions.

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How can we be practical with the people living in the hostels and hotels

Bullet points from 3rd September 2020 Zoom Meeting of anti fascist activists in the North West about responding to Britain First attacks on hotels etc. organised by Liverpool based PCS Trades Union organiser Mary Dooley

  • Coordinate letters to local papers and complaints to IPSOS if letters or articles fostering hate are carried in local press
  • Insist that decent internet and wifi connection is put into every residence
  • Intention is to involve the people living in the hotels and hostels in the planning and development of our responses so that they are enabled to acquire more control of what is happening and their environment
  • Make phone trees including phone numbers of natural leaders in the residences
  • Put calls out for old phones so that residents can be given them – and sim cards
  • Translate leaflets into key languages – expressing solidarity and offering contact details
  • Residents can use healthy snacks fresh fruit and cash – there is no access to cooking facilities so food donations must be appropriate
  • Secure solidarity statements and actions from local trade union branches and TUC groups in the area
  • Translate leaflets into key languages – expressing solidarity and offering contact details

This is in response to the intrusions by Britain First into hotels where asylum seekers have been accommodated: https://statusnow4all.org/press-release-the-status-now-network-unconditionally-condemns-the-actions-of-members-of-britain-first/

Condemnation of Home Office decision to start evicting asylum seekers despite warning of second wave

Letter sent from the Home Office: Director General’s Office, UK Visas and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Passport Office, date: 15 September 2020

Dear All,
At the Asylum SEG on Friday of last week we committed to keeping you updated on cessations and when these would be resuming for those who have received a negative decision. I am therefore writing to let you know that the Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts has written to Local Authority Chief Executives today setting out these will start with immediate effect in England, and in the rest of the United Kingdom following consultation with officials in the Devolved Administrations.

We continue to share detailed data with Local Authorities to assist them in planning and this will continue. Migrant Help stand ready to support with the move-on process for those who will now receive cessation letters and we continue to work closely with them.
Andy Kelly will be writing to the SMPs today and will ask that the local NGOs are copied into any local information relating to restarting of negative cessations.

Thank you again for your continued support.

Yours Sincerely,
Abi Tierney
Director General, HM Passport Office and UK Visas & Immigration

See the letter here:


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