Mercy Baguma: The Legacy of the UKs Dysfunctional Asylum & Immigration System

StatusNow logo

Yesterday, Prime Minister Johnson was compelled to respond to the child of Mercy Baguma, and the father of the child, after Mercy was found dead in a flat in Glasgow laying next to her distressed one year old son. Mercy had lost her Leave to Remain status (visa) and job, and was struggling to survive in the middle of a pandemic while she awaited a decision on her asylum application. Though Boris Johnson’s gesture to fast-track the resolution of the father of the child’s asylum case is in kind, it is too late for Mercy who died whilst in limbo and extreme poverty!

By implementing the proposal for the regularisation of undocumented migrants that he commissioned as Mayor of London more than a decade ago, this Prime Minister could prevent unecessary and sustained suffering for many, made worse by this pandemic. The UK government successfully ran a programme to resolve a backlog of 450,000 asylum cases (later extended to other people with insecure status) between 2007 to 2011, so why not take action now, in this time of crisis, to secure StatusNow4All?

Recently, Boris Johnson referred to regularising hundreds of thousands of undocumented/ irregular migrants already living in the UK as a most pragmatic and reasonable policy because it is unrealistic to try to expel them all. He expressed the view that they should live with dignity, like his own ancestors from Turkey who sought sanctuary in the UK. Several times in the last decade he has highlighted the economic benefits for the country if people, most of whom have been working for years, are allowed to work openly and pay taxes. 

Boris Johnson has articulated support for the idea of regularising undocumented migrants:

  • “I do think that if an immigrant has been here a very long time and there is no realistic prospect of returning them, then I do think that person’s position should be regularised so they can pay taxes and join the rest of society like the rest of us.” Boris Johnson, 9 April 2008
  • “It is the humane thing to do, it is the economically rational thing to do, and it is taking back control of a system that is, at the moment, completely out of control.” – Boris Johnson, June 2016
  • “I do think we need to look at our arrangements for people who have lived and worked here for a long time, unable to enter the economy, unable to participate properly or pay taxes without documents, we should look at it and we should – the truth is that the law already basically allows them an effective amnesty, that’s basically where things have settled down, but we should look at the economic advantages and disadvantages of going ahead with the policy that [Rupa Huq MP] describes.” – Boris Johnson, July 2019.

The Status Now Network does not employ the language of amnesties, implying wrongdoing, but we understand Boris Johnson’s perspective.

The proposal to regularise undocumented migrants must evolve from idea into enacted policy! That’s why Status For ALL is the rational and humane action to take – NOW!