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

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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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2009: Economic impact on the London and UK economy of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK

  1. [Extract]The costs in terms of public services are relatively low, mainly because access to most services does not depend on regularity per se, but on whether or not migrants are ‘subject to immigration control’. Thus the immediate impact on public services is much lower than many commentators might expect. The major long-term costs relate to welfare benefits, including child benefit, social security and housing benefit.
    Some countries limit migrants’ access to such benefits — and indeed this government intends to do so for legal migrants until they receive indefinite leave to
    remain or citizenship.
  2. Making a regularisation scheme work effectively in social and economic terms would require careful design, involving a progressive programme (integrated with a version of the current ‘paths to citizenship’ proposal) and complementary policies to address equal opportunities issues and parts of the informal economy which have exploited irregular labour.
  3. The issue of irregular migrants and how to deal with them has been difficult to research because official agencies have little information and few data about the question – and a lack of clarity about the position of irregular migrants, in part because immigration is a topic of controversy. However, the fact that immigration is ‘difficult’ politically does not mean there cannot be debate, followed by improvements to public policy. This report provides some evidence as a contribution to such a debate.


Kent Refugee Help – Statement and Message of support for the Dover Action

Kent Refugee Help is a signatory to our call for Status Now 4 All. They produced the flyer below in support of the activity by a collection of organisations in Dover demonstrating a welcome for refugees, in the face of planned Britain First action which is designed to generate racist hatred for asylum seekers who are legitimately seeking sanctuary in UK.

The text of the flyer is as follows:

We stand with You, Saturday 5th September, 11 am, Dover Market Square.
We support the Dover peaceful action for Refugees and Migrants on 5th of September.
Kent Refugee help believes in equal rights for everyone.

We stand by people fleeing war, violence and extreme poverty.

Kent Refugee Help is a charity that assists foreign nationals detained in prisons who are liable to deportation.

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Claudia Webbe: I stand in full solidarity with all those exercising their legal right to claim asylum

25 August 2020: “The attacks on asylum seekers at the Bromsgrove Hotel are disgraceful, and I stand in full solidarity with all those who are exercising their legal right to claim asylum.

“Britain First and other hate groups represent the very worst of our country. They must be not be given any platform to legitimise their vile anti-migrant discourse.

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Yarl’s Wood: Women no longer held as centre repurposed for Channel migrants

Responding to a change in the operations of Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Claudia Webbe, Member of Parliament for Leicester East, said:

“I am delighted that one chapter of the brutal history of Yarl’s Wood seems to be ending, and I wholeheartedly congratulate the many activists and survivors for their victory.

“Yarl’s Wood has come to be synonymous with the violent, institutionalised racism and sexism that has been hardwired into our immigration system. The strength and bravery of those who are in or have left detention is a source of constant inspiration and are living proof that – together – we can build a fairer world.

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Doubling up the desire to punish

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The fact that some of the 285 people (268 men, 17 women) deported to Eastern Europe by the British Government during the COVID-19 restrictions (April –June 2020) had spent criminal convictions – including a mother who had served a six month sentence and was separated from her 11 year old son – is a clear demonstration of the deep cynicism that is in line with both the UK Government’s indifference towards people with insecure immigration status, and their desire to doubly punish people who have fallen through the cracks of the legal system by stripping them off their right to remain.  

The fact that this deportation process cost £1,105,931, involved 374 immigration officers, and did not offer a single test to any person being deported, is further proof of the Government’s preparedness to place marginalised people, alongside those employed to deport them, and everyone they subsequently come across when they land – at risk of infection. 

This latest injustice, underlining as it does the fact that there is neither a rational public health approach towards the health and safety of the population as a whole or towards people with insecure status in particular, only reinforces the Status Now Network’s commitment to StatusNow4All. 

Irish Refugee Council criticises safety standards for asylum centres

Irish Times: 8.8.2020: Half of people in direct provision ‘unable’ to social distance

A sign at the entrance to a direct provision centre in Co Kildare that suffered a Covid-19 outbreak. File photograph: Colin Keegan/CollinsShare to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to Email App

Half of people living in direct provision have been unable to social distance from other residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, while more than 40 per cent continue to share a room with a non-family member, according to new research seen by The Irish Times.

The Irish Refugee Council’s (IRC) Powerless report, which examines the experiences of direct provision residents during the pandemic, says asylum seekers are suffering “fear and trepidation” because of their “inability to control” their health and safety during the pandemic.

The call to end direct provision has become “more compelling than ever” in the context of the pandemic, the council says. The new Government has committed to ending the system.

Two levels of safety standards have been created during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to IRC chief executive Nick Henderson. “One for the general public, where social distancing is encouraged, and another for people in residential settings such as direct provision, where sharing of intimate space is implicitly accepted.” …

Read more here: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/half-of-people-in-direct-provision-unable-to-social-distance-1.4324955

Home Office to stop using racist visa algorithm

JCWI: 4 August 2020 We won! Home Office to stop using racist visa algorithm

We are delighted to announce that the Home Office has agreed to scrap its ‘visa streaming’ algorithm, in response to legal action we launched with tech-justice group Foxglove.

From Friday, 7 August, Home Secretary Priti Patel will suspend the “visa streaming” algorithm “pending a redesign of the process,” which will consider “issues around unconscious bias and the use of nationality” in automated visa applications.

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