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.

See more information about the Illegal Immigration Bill here:

Updated 7 April 2023: : This is just mean and unnecessarily cruel to a destitute person: New crackdown to prevent illegal migrants accessing bank accounts

Data sharing with the financial sector will begin today as the government cracks down on illegal migrants accessing banking services.

Making it more difficult for unlawful migrants to access financial services is an important tool to help deter illegal migration by preventing people from working illegally and profiting from services they are not entitled to.

Having access to a current account can assist those here unlawfully in obtaining work illegally and securing credit. It can help those without permission to be in the UK gain a foothold in society, regardless of their immigration status.

Identifying an unlawful migrant’s current account may also provide evidence of illegal working, helping identify and stamp this out.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially announced the plans to restart data sharing to the House of Commons as part of the government’s approach to tackling illegal working and immigration.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:

Access to key banking services, including current accounts, is crucial in aiding those here unlawfully to gain a foothold in British society.

As the Prime Minister has set out, we are committed to going further and faster to prevent the abuse of our laws and borders. Illegal working causes untold harm to our communities, cheating honest workers of employment and defrauding the public purse.

Only those known to be here unlawfully or those who have absconded from immigrational control will have their details shared, with robust safeguards in place to prevent wrongful account closures.

The new measures do not impose any requirements on banks to check customer’s documents. Instead, the Home Office will share details of disqualified persons via an anti-fraud organisation, and banks and building societies will then check their personal current account holders against those details.

Anyone with outstanding immigration applications or appeals will not be affected, nor will those who have been granted leave to be in the UK, including refugees. In addition, the Home Office retains discretion over the criteria for disqualification and sharing data.

Bank account closures will only occur where the Home Office has made a further check to ensure that the customer is still in the UK without permission to stay.

Where the bank or building society has refused to open an account, or closed an existing account, the customer will be notified of the reasons, how to contact the Home Office if they believe a mistake has been made, and the next steps they should take.

Updated 7 March 2023: UNHCR: Statement on UK Asylum Bill

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is profoundly concerned by the asylum bill introduced by the UK Government to the House of Commons today. In its current form, the Bill compels the Home Secretary to deny access to the UK asylum system to those who arrive irregularly. Rather than being provided with protection, these asylum-seekers would instead be subject to detention in the UK, while arrangements are pursued to remove them to another country.

The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban – extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be, and with no consideration of their individual circumstances.

The effect of the bill (in this form) would be to deny protection to many asylum-seekers in need of safety and protection, and even deny them the opportunity to put forward their case. This would be a clear breach of the Refugee Convention and would undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud.

Most people fleeing war and persecution are simply unable to access the required passports and visas. There are no safe and “legal” routes available to them. Denying them access to asylum on this basis undermines the very purpose for which the Refugee Convention was established. The Convention explicitly recognises that refugees may be compelled to enter a country of asylum irregularly. 

Based on the Home Office’s most recently published data, the vast majority of those arriving to the UK in small boats over the Channel would be accepted as refugees were their claims to be determined. Branding refugees as undeserving based on mode of arrival distorts these fundamental facts.

International law does not require that refugees claim asylum in the first country they reach. Returns or transfers to safe third countries may nonetheless be appropriate if certain thresholds are met – in particular, if Refugee Convention rights will be respected there, and the arrangement helps share the responsibility for refugees equitably among nations. The framework in place between EU member states is an example of such an arrangement. Currently, the UK is not part of any such agreement, and its bilateral arrangement with Rwanda fails to meet the necessary international standards. As such, asylum-seekers arriving in the UK irregularly would find themselves in limbo, unable to claim protection in line with the Convention.  

UNHCR shares the UK Government’s concern regarding the number of asylum-seekers resorting to dangerous journeys, not only across the Channel but also elsewhere, as in the Mediterranean. Making the asylum system work is key to tackling this challenge. Fast, fair and efficient case processing, as well as enhanced reception conditions, would accelerate the integration of those found to be refugees and facilitate the swift return of those who have no legal basis to stay. UNHCR has presented the UK Government with concrete and actionable proposals in this regard and welcomes constructive, ongoing efforts to clear the current asylum backlog. UNHCR continues to support the UK Government in strengthening its asylum system and addressing such challenges directly.

UNHCR will also continue to work with the UK Government to expand safe, regular pathways for refugees to reach the UK, including through resettlement. While critical, these remain very limited, and can never substitute for access to asylum.

UNHCR also welcomes the UK’s enhanced dialogue with France and encourages efforts to enhance regional cooperation with its European neighbours to address current challenges. 

We urge the Government, and all MPs and Peers, to reconsider the Bill and instead pursue more humane and practical policy solutions.

Read more: Oral statement to Parliament: Home Secretary statement on the Illegal Immigration Bill

The Home Secretary updated the House of Commons on new legislation to stop the boats.

[…] Mr. Speaker, this bill enables detention of illegal arrivals, without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention, until they can be removed.

It puts a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal entrants and will radically narrow the number of challenges and appeals that can suspend removal.

Only those under 18, medically unfit to fly, or at real risk of serious and irreversible harm – an exceedingly high bar – in the country we are removing them to, will be able to delay their removal. Any other claims will be heard remotely, after removal. […]

Updated 6 March 2023: Guardian: Small boats: what is Rishi Sunak’s plan, and how will it work?

The government is expected to unveil legislation on asylum seekers this week. Here’s a guide to what we know so far

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is to announce laws stopping people entering the UK on small boats from claiming asylum. Details on the legislation, which is expected to be published on Tuesday, are scarce.

What do we know about the legislation?

It is expected to make asylum claims from those who travel to the UK on small boats inadmissible. It would see a duty placed on the home secretary, Suella Braverman, to remove “as soon as reasonably practicable” – to Rwanda or a “safe third country” – anyone who arrives on a small boat.

How would it work?

The government appears to believe it has found a way round aspects of the European convention on human rights, which provides the ultimate legal authority for most deportation challenges. The Mail On Sunday reported that a clause in the new bill would apply a “rights brake”, but there are no details as yet on how this would get around the UK’s obligations under the ECHR.

What happens to those who arrive by small boats?

They will be prevented from claiming asylum while in the UK, and there are plans also to ban them from returning once removed. Asylum seekers currently have the right to remain in the country to have their cases heard.

Read more:

BBC: Channel migrants face lifetime ban on returning to UK

Channel migrants will be removed from the UK, banned from future re-entry and unable to apply for British citizenship under new legislation.

The slew of proposed measures will apply to anyone arriving on UK shores in a small boat.

Further details are expected to be announced by the government on Tuesday.

The Refugee Council has criticised the plans and says thousands of people will be left “permanently in limbo” as a result.

Read more:

Updated 25 February 2023: Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner: Streamlined asylum processing: OISC position.

Immigration advisers must be regulated by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner*.

The Home Office has published its new guidance on making decisions under streamlined asylum processing.

OISC’s position:

While only regulated legal advisers working at Level 2 and above can provide asylum advice to claimants completing the Asylum Claim Questionnaire, you can offer assistance if you are not regulated where this help related to language issues and the technicalities of completing and submitting the forms. Requests for time extensions to complete the forms can also be made be an unregulated person, supporting the claimant.

However, this must not stray into giving immigration or asylum advice. You must be regulated to give this advice.

We have more information on what assistance can be provided by an unregulated person on our website.

*not including regulated barristers, solicitors and legal executives

Read more:

Updated 23 February 2023: Refugee Council: What will the Government’s new plan for clearing the backlog mean for people seeking asylum?

Moves to reduce the backlog in asylum cases are welcome, but the Government’s new announcements are not the answer.

Quickly granting refugee status to people from countries with high grant rates should be a positive first step but the process must be well thought-out. After living in worry and uncertainty for months and even years without hearing anything about their claims, it cannot then be fair or reasonable to expect people to complete a lengthy form only in English in a matter of weeks, especially for those who don’t have access to legal advice and don’t speak English.

What has happened?

The Government has announced a new plan that aims to reduce the asylum backlog by sending a questionnaire to around 12,000 people who are from 5 countries with high acceptance rates (Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen). This questionnaire contains complex questions and is written in English, which many of those who are required to provide answers will not be able to understand without assistance.

Recipients will be given just 20 days to complete this form – also giving their responses in English – or risk their entire asylum claim being withdrawn without further investigation.

With new figures today revealing that over 160,000 people were still waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum at the end of December 2022, it is clear that action is needed to reduce this backlog. However, the answer is not yet more bureaucratic hurdles and threats of applications being withdrawn.

Read more:

Home Office: Streamlined asylum processing (v.1)

You will find that much of the content of this document is not available: ‘The information in this section has been removed as it is restricted for internal Home Office use’

Read more:

Updated 22 February 2023: Guardian: Home Office to tell refugees to complete questionnaire in English or risk refusal

Exclusive: Claimants will have only 20 days to respond or face rejection

Plans to cut the asylum backlog by sending questionnaires to refugees instead of conducting official interviews will demand that claimants reply in English within 20 working days or risk refusal, a leaked document shows.

The Home Office will on Thursday begin sending out copies of the 11-page document to about 12,000 people from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen as part of Rishi Sunak’s plans to cut the “legacy backlog” of 92,000 asylum claims.

The move is meant to speed up the process by which claims are processed so that people can be either given leave to remain in the UK or removed.

But the questionnaire, seen by the Guardian, asks more than 50 complicated questions that it says “must be completed in English” and suggests using “online translation tools” if necessary.

It goes on to say that a failure to return the document within 20 working days “may result in an individual’s asylum claim being withdrawn”.

The deadline has dismayed legal experts who say it places unreasonable demands on vulnerable people who will not be able to seek legal advice on time.

Read more:

BBC: Asylum claims for 12,000 to be considered without face-to-face interview

Read more:

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”.

Asked by McFall to list the highs and lows of his political career, Dubs cited the comments alongside the experience of losing his Commons seat in 1987 and then being unemployed for a year.

“I have to say, when the home secretary talks about refugees as invaders, I find that deeply and personally upsetting. Upsetting because invaders are seen as an enemy,” he said.

“Invaders are hostile people, whereas what we’re talking about are people who are fleeing from war, persecution, threats to their safety and so on. And I think we owe them a bit of compassion.”

Read more:

31 January 2023 Guardian: Rishi Sunak’s migration plan ‘would have left 45,000 in permanent limbo last year’

Refugee Council warns tens of thousands who crossed Channel to UK in 2022 would have been detained indefinitely under proposals

More than 45,000 people who have crossed the Channel in small boats this year would have been detained indefinitely in a “permanent limbo” under Rishi Sunak’s flagship migration policy, a leading refugee charity has calculated.

The prime minister announced proposals this month to ban anybody who comes to the UK irregularly from applying for asylum and then deporting them as soon as possible. A new immigration bill is expected to be introduced within weeks.

An analysis by the Refugee Council has found that, because of a lack of returns agreements with other countries, 45,237 men, women and children who arrived in 2022 would have been held in detention but would not have been deported.

“They would not be able to be removed, but neither would they be able to progress an asylum application, work or access support from statutory services,” a statement from the group said.

The calculation comes amid reports that the attorney general, Victorias Prentis, has warned Sunak that the proposed bill, one of the government’s priorities, will “never get through the courts” because the prolonged detention of migrants will be immediately challenged.

Sunak said on 4 January the legislation would make sure that “if you come to this country illegally, you are detained and swiftly removed”.

Home Office sources said anybody who crossed the Channel but had passed through another country would be in effect banned from applying for asylum, and their claim would automatically be deemed inadmissible.

However, according to the Refugee Council analysis, if ministers implemented this policy without additional returns agreements in place – and if the number of people making the crossing in small boats remained the same as in 2022 – then it would leave 45,237 people (98.9% of those making the crossing) in “a permanent limbo”.

The figure is based on the number of people the Home Office has been able to secure returns agreements for as part of the inadmissibility process introduced on 31 December 2020.

Between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2022, the Home Office issued 12,286 notices of intent, where they believed someone’s claim may be inadmissible.

However, up to 30 September only 83 inadmissibility decisions, which can only be made once the Home Office has an agreement with a third country for the removal of the individual concerned, had been issued – just 0.7% of cases.

“Applying that same success rate to all those who crossed the Channel in 2022 would mean that 309 people were removed,” the charity’s analysis said. “Even if an additional 200 people were removed as a result of the Rwanda scheme becoming operational, this would still leave 98.9% – 45,237 people – unable to be removed.”

Read more:

28 December 2022: Rishi Sunak Announces New New Plan For Asylum

Rishi Sunak has announced a number of measures to address the government’s self-made asylum backlog. The tone of Sunak’s statement was more measured than the sometimes rather unhinged rhetoric to which we have become accustomed, although he still introduced the topic as being about “illegal immigration”. There were no attacks on lawyers, for example. Or tofu. In that respect, it is welcome. The details of the new new plan for asylum do not seem likely to deliver, though, and the repeated singling out of Albanians is a very worrying development.

Morality not impact – Sunak began by saying that “any solution should be not just what works but what is right”. This is an interesting yardstick by which to measure government policy. It suggests that a policy which fails to achieve its purpose might still be ‘correct’ in some way. This is surely a reference to the Rwanda plan and other recent measures, which no-one now seems to think will actually deter people from coming to the United Kingdom. It can also be read as a reference to the hostile environment suite of laws. These have had no discernible impact on immigration. Indeed, voluntary departures actually fell considerably from 2016 onwards. But some consider it morally right to deny services to migrants, even if that just has the effect of leaving them destitute and vulnerable within our borders and it increases race discrimination against not just migrants but also black Britons.

Read more: Freemovement,

Freemovement: Home Office Bank Account Closure Plan Causing Havoc

One of the measures announced by Rishi Sunak in his asylum statement on 13 December 2022 was the re-starting of hostile environment immigration checks on bank accounts. These checks were introduced by the Immigration Act 2016 but were paused by Sajid Javid in 2018 when he was Home Secretary. There was no consultation on Sunak’s plan and it seems to herald government disengagement from the ongoing Windrush Lessons Learned Review process.

These banking checks are extremely controversial. The Immigration Act 2014 already required banks to conduct immigration checks before opening a new account. This already proves problematic for refugees and students in particular, but at least it does not involve losing something you already have. Having your existing bank account closed on you is a whole new level of catastrophe. Imagine it. With no notice, you suddenly cannot make or receive any payments. The only money you have now is whatever was in your wallet. You cannot buy food, travel or pay rent. Your phone will soon run out of credit. You cannot pay a lawyer to try and sort things out, either, because you have no money.

Some people will say this is fine if those affected are illegal immigrants with no right to be here. Personally, I disagree with this. These sorts of measures force people into destitution and leave them open to exploitation. There is no evidence that they actually persuade or force people out of the country, though. They make life hard and marginal, but not that hard and marginal. Voluntary departures from the UK have actually plummeted since 2016. I am not OK with a measure that is supposedly about immigration actually having no immigration impact, just a disastrous social and economic one.

Read more: Freemovement,

14 December 2022: UK Parliament/Hansard: Asylum Seekers (Removal to Safe Countries) debate [Lost]

Jonathan Gullis  (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Con)

I beg to move: That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide that certain provisions of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 relating to the removal of asylum seekers to safe countries shall have effect notwithstanding inconsistency or incompatibility with international or other domestic law; to require the Secretary of State to proceed with such removals regardless of any decision or judgment of any international court or body; and for connected purposes.

Read the 10 minute debate here:

5 December 2022: UNHCR News Comment on UK Asylum Reform Proposals

This news comment is attributable to Vicky Tennant, UNHCR Representative to the United Kingdom

UNHCR notes with concern the proposals presented in a report issued today by the Centre for Policy Studies on UK asylum reform.

The report contains critical factual and legal errors regarding the international legal status of refugees and asylum-seekers.

Everybody has the right to seek asylum from persecution in another country, and there is no such thing as an “illegal asylum-seeker”. The indefinite detention of those seeking asylum, based solely on their mode of arrival, would punish people in need of help and protection and constitute a clear breach of the United Kingdom’s obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Read more:

Updated 1 December 2022: This is why people need settled status: Byline Times: No Government Help with Rising Energy Bills for Hundreds of Thousands of Immigrants

Households with ‘no recourse to public funds’ due to their immigration status will not be eligible for state help to alleviate rising costs

Hundreds of thousands of households will receive no Government help with soaring energy bills next year due to their immigration status, after the Chancellor axed the £400 universal energy rebate.

A combination of decisions by the Government and energy regulator Ofgem means these households are set to see their energy costs rise by nearly a thousand pounds a year, sparking warnings from charities and campaign groups.

Jeremy Hunt announced in his Autumn Statement that the Energy Bills Support Scheme – which deducts £400 from the energy bills of almost all households in England, Scotland and Wales in 2022/23 – will be scrapped for the 2023/24 financial year.

The Government will still provide support to people receiving means-tested benefits – £900 in 2023/24, following on from £650 paid in 2022/23 – but this excludes households that have ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) due to their immigration status.

NRPF Households are not allowed to claim the benefits that would qualify them to receive the £900 payment next year, and cannot receive cost of living support payments available to pensioners and disabled people, the winter fuel payment or the cold weather payment.

NRPF households were eligible for the £400 rebate that is now being withdrawn, as it was paid to everyone rather than just those receiving welfare benefits. With Ofgem raising the energy price cap by an average £500 from next spring, the combined impact on NRPF households will be an average increase in energy costs of £900 a year.

Read more:

NRPF: [from July 2022] Temporary refugee permission introduced

In this article, we will highlight the key changes people in the asylum system will experience to their immigration status as a result of the Nationalities and Borders Act that received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022.

The new rules will only apply to people who have lodged an asylum application on or after 28 June 2022.

Group 2 refugees face uncertain immigration journey and future NRPF risks remain unclear.

A Group 2 refugee will: 

  • Receive temporary refugee permission to stay for a minimum of 30 months which will be renewable.
  • Not have a defined route to settlement. In fact, they will not be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) unless they meet the 10-year long-residence requirements.
  • Have restricted family reunion rights
  • They could have the NRPF condition imposed on them, unless in cases of destitution or for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).  
  • Have the right to work

Group 2 refugees will have to renew their temporary refugee permission to stay three times before being able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 10 years. See for more information on the long residency rules.

Read more:

Updated 27 November 2022: Guardian: Child asylum seekers detained as adults after UK Home Office ‘alters birth dates’

Unaccompanied child refugees describe attacks in notorious Manston camp after officials ‘ignore or discount’ ID documents

The Home Office is routinely changing the dates of birth of unaccompanied child asylum seekers to classify them as adults, according to experts who say the practice is now happening on a “horrifying scale”.

As a result, many children are being wrongly sent to the notorious Home Office site at Manston in Kent, the experts warn, and detained in unsafe conditions for up to several weeks.

The Refugee Council said interviews with 16 children released from Manston revealed that even in the cases of some boys who had identity documents stating they were children, the Home Office changed their dates of birth to make them over 18.

Read more:

Wednesday 23 November 2022 Suella Braverman before the Home Affairs Committee  Meeting started at 9.45am, ended 11.53am

“The session will focus on a range of issues related to the asylum and immigration system. This is likely to include the Government’s strategies to cut the processing backlog and ensure adequate accommodation for those claiming asylum in the UK. It will also scrutinise the Government’s attempts to reduce the numbers of people attempting to cross the Channel in small boats, in particular the recently signed agreement with France and the future of the migration deal with Rwanda.”

The transcript is here:

Updated 23 November 2022: BBC: Tough asylum cases handled by new Home Office staff, say insiders

The Home Office is blighted by delays in dealing with asylum claims, as inexperienced and low-paid staff are hired to handle applications, several insiders have told BBC Two’s Newsnight.

Staff said this was slowing down decisions, leading to long, expensive hotel stays for asylum seekers.

Nearly 130,000 people are waiting for a decision, latest official figures for June 2022 show.

The Home Office said it was boosting the number of claims processed.

It comes as Home Secretary Suella Braverman is set to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee later, where she will answer questions from MPs on asylum and immigration.

Three people who work in the department have spoken to Newsnight to warn about the impact on Home Office decisions being made about asylum seekers.

One person with several years of experience working in the department said: “To make and write decisions is more difficult than people think.

“They’re hiring large numbers of inexperienced staff who need to be trained to do this and that takes time, so the backlog grows.

“And it’s young staff facing these harrowing stories and earning low wages – so what’s the incentive to stay?

“There isn’t one… so they leave and then they hire someone else and so it continues.”

According to the latest Home Office figures, by the end of June this year 127,026 asylum applications were still to be decided upon.

That is nearly four times the number of cases that were awaiting a decision by the end of June 2018, when 33,035 asylum applications were in the backlog.

Another Home Office employee said they were working “long and gruelling” hours.

Read more:

Updated 18 November 2022: Human Rights Joint Select Committee

The Joint Committee on Human Rights consists of twelve members, appointed from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to examine matters relating to human rights within the United Kingdom, as well as scrutinising every Government Bill for its compatibility with human rights.

Call for Evidence: Human Rights of Asylum Seekers in the UK

Background: […] Asylum seekers often come from countries affected by violence, conflict, and human rights abuses, and a portion of those who leave come to the UK. In 2022, the number of new asylum applications rose to 63,089, from 48,540 in the previous year.[3] As of June 2022, there were 122,213 asylum claims pending an initial decision, out of which 89,231 cases had been pending an initial decision for more than 6 months.[4] Most asylum claims in the UK are successful – in 2021, the estimated overall grant rate where a final outcome has been reached was 77%.[5]

The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 made significant amendments to the legislative framework for the asylum system. Changes include the introduction of new powers to remove asylum seekers, the creation of a two-tier system for asylum claims, and the inadmissibility of claims by persons with a connection to safe third States. The Government has also sought through the UK Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership to send certain asylum seekers to Rwanda to make claims for asylum in Rwanda.

You can read the transcripts of their sessions here:

This inquiry is currently accepting evidence; the committee wants to hear your views. We welcome submissions from anyone with answers to the questions in the call for evidence.

You can submit evidence until Thursday 15 December 2022

EIN: Refugee Council: FOI request reveals backlog of asylum seekers waiting for initial decision reaches 122,206 with hundreds waiting over 5 years

Asylum Seekers Backlog Reaches 122,206 – Hundreds Waiting Over 5 Years

The Refugee Council on Tuesday, published new Home Office data on the asylum backlog obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. As highlighted by the Refugee Council, the data shows that that total number of asylum seekers waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim stood at 122,206 at the end of June 2022. This figure includes main applicants, adult dependents and children. The backlog when only counting adult main applicants was 93,969.

The asylum backlog has doubled in a year and a half (from 64,891 at the end of December 2020) and has quadrupled in just five years (up from 29,522 in December 2017). Over ten years, the backlog has increased almost tenfold (it stood at 12,808 in December 2012). Of those in the backlog at the end of June 2022, some 38,036 asylum seekers had been waiting between six months and a year, 40,913 between one and three years, 9,551 between three and five years, and 725 asylum seekers had been waiting for over five years. The Refugee Council said the latter statistic was shocking.

Read more: EIN,

Updated 7 November 2022: Guardian: The Tories concocted the myth of the ‘migrant crisis’. Now their survival depends on it

Brexit is exposed, the economy is in shreds, the party has imploded – and the government is running out of people to blame

Britain exists in an imaginary state of crisis about immigration. Nothing soothes this anxiety – not facts, not real numbers of arrivals, not the distinction between migrants in general and asylum seekers in particular. In the past week alone, reports have emerged of illegally detained migrants at overcrowded centres falling ill, of underage sexual assault, and of others being dropped off in the middle of cities and promptly forgotten about. These appalling failures have occurred not because there are too many migrants, but because the government has broken its own asylum system.

This is a crisis by design, not of arrivals. The government is keen to stress the recent increase in Channel crossings, yet asylum applications are half what they were 20 years ago. The real and only cause of the debacle at Manston and other failing centres is this: the number of asylum applications processed within six months has fallen from almost 90% to about 4%. It’s not that more people are arriving than ever before, it’s that more of them aren’t being processed, and so are stuck in the asylum system for years. Efficiency has been dropping sharply since 2014, one year after Theresa May established the “hostile environment” and in the middle of George Osborne’s austerity programme. The intersection of those two forces created an underfunded, cruel Home Office, and with it Britain’s immigration “crisis”.

Read more:

Updated 6 November 2022: Observer: Revealed: supermarket staff recruited to make ‘life and death’ asylum decisions

‘It’s a total disaster,’ says whistleblower as Home Office brings in novice workers to clear backlog

The Home Office is hiring asylum decision-makers from customer service and sales positions at McDonald’s, Tesco and Aldi as part of a recruitment drive to clear its huge backlog of asylum applications, the Observer can reveal.

The new recruits, hired through online advertising and high street recruitment agencies, have no prior experience or knowledge of the asylum system. Many are placed on rolling, temporary contracts, typically for three months. Despite being promised comprehensive training, decision-makers report being “left to fend for themselves” after two days, and having to conduct complex interviews and make “life or death” decisions.

Read more:

Migrant Help is a registered Charity, working on a contract from the Government

Observer: ‘It just rings and rings’: Home Office helpline for asylum seekers rated inadequate

Refugees and support workers say Home Office-funded service is ‘torment’, with some callers left on hold for up to three hours

The government’s round-the-clock helpline for asylum seekers has been rated inadequate after callers faced “unacceptable” delays, official documents have revealed.

Run for the Home Office by the charity Migrant Help, the helpline is the main point of contact for asylum seekers needing support with housing, money and access to healthcare.

It also handles complaints about accommodation and requests for assistance with problems including “domestic violence, sexual harassment or exploitation, antisocial behaviour, destitution or homelessness or suspected radicalisation”, as well as providing eligibility guidance on asylum claims.

But while it is billed as a 24/7 service, an internal audit published last week found it answered just 13% of calls within an “accepted timeframe”, with reports of three-hour hold times and calls going unanswered or being disconnected.

Migrant Help, which was paid £17m by the Home Office last year, has now been placed in a turnaround plan by the government. But the latest audit was the 10th time in just under three years that it had been found to be underperforming on call waiting times, with ministers first warned about its performance in January 2020.

Since then its rating has been allowed to drop from “approaching target” to “requires improvement” to “inadequate”, Observer research shows, raising questions about why action was not taken sooner.

Migrant Help said it was missing its target of answering 90% of calls on time because of “significantly higher” demand than anticipated, adding that it had expanded its team in order to cope. The charity said it had assisted 81,776 asylum seekers over the last year with an average wait of 16 minutes, and had received only 275 complaints.

But charity workers said they had faced excessive waits only last week.

Read More:

Updated 5 November 2022: We need a General Election, and a new Government. Representatives of signatory organisations to StatusNow joined the national demonstration today in London:

Updated 1 November 2022: Independent: Charities outrage at Suella Braverman’s ‘harmful’ child migrant X-ray plans

Embattled home secretary Suella Braverman is to push ahead with controversial plans that risk forcing vulnerable child refugees to undergo X-rays to prove they are not lying about their age.

Ms Braverman has been accused of using “shameful” and inflammatory language that put migrants in danger after she claimed the UK was facing an “invasion” on its south coast.

Now charities say the under-fire cabinet minister, who was reappointed to the job just a week after she was forced to resign over a security breach, risks measures that will ‘harm’ children.

Ms Braverman pledged that there would be “robust” new checks of those claiming to be children introduced in the new year, warning that ministers had to “clamp down” on the problem, as she defended her handling of the Kent asylum centre crisis on Monday night.

The Home Office later said that her comments related to an announcement in January, when her predecessor Priti Patel was the home secretary, that “new scientific methods” would be used to assess the age of asylum seekers.

A scientific group was also set up to advise ministers on the issue. Their findings are thought to be at an advanced stage.

At the time the Home Office said the move would bring UK policy “in line with other countries”.

It added: “Scientific methods are used by most European countries, who primarily use X-ray scans, and sometimes CT scans and MRI imaging to view key parts of the body.”

Finland and Norway “take radiographs to examine the development of teeth and the fusion of bones in the wrist. In both countries, two certified experts will carry out the age assessment and must jointly agree on the person’s age.” In France, X-rays are taken “to examine the fusion of the collar bone, alongside dental and wrist X-rays, while in Greece, dental X-rays are used alongside social worker assessments.”

Ms Braverman said the checks were necessary because when it came to Albanian migrants the majority were adult males, “not by majority women or children or elderly people, and this claim of being a child is something that we are going to clamp down on.”

“In the new year, we will be delivering more robust age assessment procedures so that there will be less abuse of this very problem,” she pledged MPs.

But Hannah Marwood, from refugee charity Care4Calais, said her organisation had supported hundreds of children who the government had incorrectly taken through what is known as an age dispute and the cases had raised serious safeguarding concerns. “The children we have worked with have been placed in accommodation with adults they do not know, which is a scary situation for any minor to be left in,” she said.

Read more:

Updated 25 October 2022: Independent: Suella Braverman ‘amps up cruelty’ of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet as sacked minister returns

Refugee charities say they will fight home secretary’s ‘dream’ of seeing asylum seekers forced to Rwanda

Charities have accused Rishi Sunak of “amping up the cruelty” of his new cabinet after reinstating Suella Braverman as home secretary.

The move comes days after she resigned for breaching the ministerial code, following a tumultuous six weeks in post that saw her hit headlines for describing the Rwanda deal as her “dream and obsession”.

[…] The Independent previously revealed the full horrors of the first attempted Rwanda fight in June, which saw asylum seekers restrained and attached to plane seats after self-harming and threatening suicide.

Forms filled out by custody staff after “use of force incidents” show how the detainees started crying, screaming, shouting and frantically calling lawyers and loved ones after being told they would be sent to Rwanda.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said her dreams were “real-life nightmares”.

“We’ll keep fighting so her cruel dreams never come true,” a statement on Twitter added.

Read more:

Updated 18 October 2022: Guardian: Concerns raised over due process in case of 11 Albanians flown out of UK

Migrants were put on a plane to Albania soon after they arrived in Britain in small boats

Concerns have been raised about a group of 11 Albanians flown out of the UK soon after arriving in small boats despite a government undertaking not to fast-track Albanian nationals.

Last month, the Home Office was forced to concede that it did not have the right to do so, after earlier claims from former home secretary Priti Patel that the UK could quickly return asylum seekers who arrived in the UK and made “spurious” claims.

The Albanians are thought to have arrived in the UK last week and were taken from Manston in Ramsgate where the Home Office processes small boat arrivals, to Stansted airport from where they were put on a plane back to Albania on Wednesday. It is thought to be the first time small boat arrivals have been put on a plane directly from Manston.

Critics have described the incident as a case of “zero notice removal”. While a Home Office spokesperson said they could not comment on the flight for operational reasons, government sources said nobody on the flight had an outstanding asylum claim.

But non-government sources have told the Guardian the 11 Albanians were not given an opportunity to have their asylum claims considered before they were put on the plane.

Mishka Pillay, campaigns consultant at Detention Action, said: “This removal of 11 people to Albania is an indication that people in Manston may be deprived of due process. We have had serious concerns about Manston. The most vulnerable people are being hidden away from vital support and access to justice.”

In August, Patel announced a scheme to expedite the removal of Albanians who arrive to the UK in small boats, saying that many make “spurious” asylum claims. However, following the threat of legal action from the charity Care4Calais, the Home Office conceded a few weeks ago that officials do not have the right to fast-track the deportation of Albanian asylum seekers after they arrive in the UK and gave an undertaking not to do this.

The incident involving the 11 Albanians is the latest to have caused concern over Manston, a temporary tented site at an airfield designed to hold 1,000 small boat arrivals that reportedly has 3,000 on site currently, giving rise to conditions described as “a nightmare” by one of those working at the site.Advertisement

Some people are being held for longer than the five-day time limit on the site, including unaccompanied children.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “The appalling inhumane conditions that we’re seeing across reception facilities for men, women and children seeking asylum highlight an unacceptable lack of contingency planning by this government, that is causing serious damage to vulnerable individuals. Many of the children we support who are stuck in hotels or have been placed in Manston as age-disputed adults are traumatised by the fact they are not getting enough food, feel unsafe and, in some cases, are getting scabies.”

Read more:

Updated 15 September 2022: from Asylum Matters:

Updated 11 September 2022: Observer: Revealed: Suella Braverman sets Home Office ‘No boats crossing the Channel’ target

UK’s new home secretary upsets civil servants with speech on migrants, trashy TV and back-to-office call

The new home secretary has already prompted consternation among Home Office officials after telling them she wants to ban all small boats crossing the Channel, the Observer has learned. […]

Regarding boat crossings, immigration experts say it is practically impossible to halt them as long as the government refuses to offer sufficient alternative safe routes to the UK. Last weekend alone saw another 45 boats arriving in the UK carrying 2,120 asylum seekers, with 8,000 individuals crossing during August, the highest monthly total on record.

“Suggesting she can stop all boat crossings is pie in the sky – it doesn’t bode well,” said a civil service source.

Read more:

Updated 28 August 2022: The Observer: There are lies, damn lies, and then there is Home Office propaganda about migrants

Priti Patel spreads Tory myths about Albanians but official statistics tell a very different story

There are Home Office statistics and then there are Home Office press releases. And the gap between the two is often so wide that even the most resourceful migrant would be unlikely to discover a way of navigating from the one to the other.

Last week, the latest set of immigration statistics arrived, a comprehensive data set for the year ending June 2022. It’s a goldmine for researchers, and a nightmare for Home Office propagandists.

Take, for instance, the latest panic over Albanians. It began with an article in the Daily Mail, drawing on a “secret military intelligence report”, claiming that 40% of cross-Channel migrants were Albanian. Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday claimed that “government officials believe the majority” of people arriving on small boats were from Albania, a claim presented without challenge as a fact. That same day, the Home Office unveiled an agreement with Tirana to “fast-track” the removal of Albanians, who apparently don’t require asylum because they come from a “safe and prosperous nation”.

The statistics tell a different story. The number of Albanians crossing the Channel has certainly increased, but in the first six months of this year stood at around 17% of the total. It is possible that the figures have dramatically changed since the end of June, but we have little evidence for that except for unverified Home Office sources and a secret document from military intelligence.

Read more:

Updated 26 August 2022: Independent: Home Office: Only 21 ‘inadmissible’ asylum seekers deported from UK in 18 months as Rwanda scheme stalls

Government hopes to make Rwanda a ‘safe third country’ for asylum processing after losing EU deal in Brexit

The UK forcibly returned only 21 asylum seekers to “safe third countries” in the 18 months since Brexit came into effect, new figures show as the Rwanda scheme stalls.

Almost 16,000 asylum seekers were considered for removal because the government declared their claims “inadmissible” between 1 January 2021 and the end of June.

Statistics released by the Home Office showed that of those, only 21 people were removed from the UK, to countries including Ireland, Germany, Italy and Spain, after a key EU transfer deal in Brexit.

Read more:

Updated 25 July 2022: Policy paper: New Plan for Immigration: legal migration and border control strategy

This strategy statement sets out our ambition for transformational change for everyone using our systems and crossing the UK border.

The document confirming the continuation of this hostile environment is here:

Read more:

see also: Morning Star: The government’s new plan for immigration must be rejected

TONY CONWAY condemns a new statement on immigration rules that only worsens the situation for migrants and ignores mounting public criticism

A HOME OFFICE document presented to the Commons in July makes some bold claims and further restricts rights of movement into Britain in a way that could impact many citizens.

This plan is in fact nothing new, it just reaffirms Britain’s restrictive policies. It ignores the failings highlighted by the Williams report into the Windrush affair and it fails to respond to the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration’s report into small boat crossings in the Channel.

It fails to mention Britain’s international obligations at all — obligations which require it to honour commitments to refugees and asylum-seekers whatever route they are forced to take. I could see no mention of victims of slavery.

Given the statement is supported by the Home Secretary, it will of course say nothing about Britain’s imperialist role, both past and present, which drives much of the immigration into Britain.

The fact it praises the “world-leading” Rwanda deportation scheme shows it to be full of hubris, given the facts. The scheme was not signed off by the Home Office permanent secretary, has been criticised by the home affairs select committee, is being challenged in the Supreme Court by a number of bodies including the union which represents Home Office staff, PCS, and by a large number of social bodies and anti-racist groups.

It praises the Britain’s role in Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine — but the three schemes highlighted are hardly great successes.

Read more:

Outrageous: Updated 1 July 2022: Morning Star: Charities refuse Home Office requests to participate in ‘anti-refugee propaganda campaign’

THE Home Office has sparked anger after trying to enlist the help of charities to inform communications campaigns aimed at deterring asylum-seekers from coming to Britain.

Several organisations, including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), have declared that they will not engage with what they described as a “hostile propaganda campaign” against refugees.

JCWI said it was one of tens of organisations approached by the Home Office this week to “consult” on a social media campaign rolled out by the department in northern France and Belgium.

The campaign seeks to warn “potential irregular migrants” of the “risks and dangers of illegal migration — especially via small boat crossings,” a Home Office email sent to JCWI reveals.

It goes on to ask groups “to help us understand migrant perceptions of migrating to the UK” and “their awareness of current and future migration policies.”

But dozens of advocacy groups are understood to have vowed to boycott the consultation, run by think tank Britain Thinks.

JCWI advocacy director Zehrah Hasan said: “We’ve told this government time and again what will save lives — and that’s safe routes.

“But instead of taking the practical steps needed to introduce these routes, this government [is] showing themselves to be committed to cruelty, as it plans a hostile propaganda campaign that will only lead to more deaths.

“We won’t be complicit in this anti-refugee scare campaign, and we know that tens of other migrant and refugee rights groups are taking the same stance.”

Other groups refusing to participate in the consultation include Refugee Action, Asylum Matters, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, No Accommodation Network, and the3million.

Refugee Action chief executive Tim Naor Hilton branded the plans “another sleazy PR exercise dressed up as a consultation.”

“This ‘information campaign’ sounds like an online ‘Go Home’ van and we remain seriously alarmed by any government plan with a racist design to keep people out, not keep people safe,” he said.

Head of advocacy and policy at the3million Luke Piper said: “There are insufficient safe routes for people to come to the UK and this requires urgent attention above a communications campaign designed to scare and push people further underground.”

A Home Office spokesperson expressed disappointment at the organisations’ refusals to engage with its “attempts to work together to improve communications to vulnerable people being sold a lie by inhumane smugglers.”

Read more:

Updated 28 June 2022: Freemovement: Humanitarian protection is being downgraded from 28 June 2022

Page contents

What will be the impact of the changes?

These changes mean that the grant of permission made to a person recognised as in need of humanitarian protection has been halved, and the amount of time that they need to spend in the UK before being able to settle here has been doubled. Instead of two applications until settlement, each person must now make up to five: the initial application, the extension from two and a half to five years, then to seven and a half, and then to ten years. Only then may they be eligible to apply for indefinite leave.

In the last year, humanitarian protection has been granted to people from Yemen, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and El Salvador, amongst others. In 2018 there were 1,296 grants of humanitarian protection, 1,235 in 2019, 1,005 in 2020 and 942 in 2021.

The human cost of this prolonged period of uncertainty and the need to continue to engage with the Home Office at such regular intervals will be huge. The department is already unable to process asylum-related applications in a timely manner.

Read more:

Updated 25 May 2022: Thank you Freemovement: When Does the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 Come Into Force?

The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 was signed into law on 28 April 2022. But there is a difference between a law being “on the statute books” after being passed by Parliament and it actually being “in force”. Most of the 2022 Act is not yet in force and will be phased in over time.

The commencement provisions are found in section 87 of the Act.
Section 87 provides that a handful of provisions came into force straight away, on 28 April: Some other sections of the Act also came into force on the day it became law, insofar as they allow the Secretary of the State to make or consult on regulations:
Then there are a bunch of provisions which, by virtue of section 87(5), come into force at a known date in the future. This is after “two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed” — so 28 June 2022.
The rest of the Act will only come into force once a commencement order is made. In practice, there are likely to be multiple commencement orders bringing different sections into force at different times. 

Read more: Freemovement,

As of 27 April 2022 the Nationality & Borders Bill is now disgracefully on route to Royal Ascent and becoming an Act of Parliament:

We have collated reports of the Nationality & Borders Bill and reports related to Home Office practice. There are also reports below about opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill as the two work together to disadvantage people with precarious status in UK

Updated 28 April 2022: EIN: Nationality and Borders Bill passes Parliament and will become law as Labour peers decide it would be inappropriate for the House of Lords to attempt a fourth defeat

Summary: Bill successfully passes through Parliament today and will shortly receive royal assent

The Nationality and Borders Bill has successfully concluded its passage through Parliament today (27 April 2022) and is now set to become law.

With time running short before the current session of Parliament is due to end, the Bill was back in the House of Lords today following yesterday’s continuation of ping pong with the Commons.

Lord Coaker said today, however, that the Labour Party had made the decision that it would not be appropriate for the Lords to send the Bill back to the Commons for a fourth time.

With the opposition deciding to abstain and defer to the elected house, the Government comfortably won the only vote held today by 212 votes to 157.

The Bill is now ready to receive Royal Assent and will shortly become law.

In the House of Lords today, a single vote was held on Baroness Chakrabarti’s amendment requiring that the Bill be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Refugee Convention. The amendment also required courts and tribunals to make a declaration if they are determining a matter related to the Bill which cannot be interpreted in a way that is compatible with the Convention.

[…] In response to the passing of the Bill, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Twitter: “UNHCR regrets that final amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill were rejected. The Bill will now become law. The new law undermines established international refugee protection laws and practices and risks causing very real suffering to vulnerable people.”

UNHCR added: “The Refugee Convention is as relevant as ever and continues to uphold the rights of refugees. Even after the Nationality and Borders Bill becomes law, UNHCR will continue to advocate against this damaging legislation and to protect refugee rights in the UK and around the world. Refugees should not be criminalised for seeking sanctuary in the UK. UNHCR will continue to argue for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless people, regardless of how they arrive. Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right.”

Read more:

Debate in the Lords yesterday which shamefully allowed the Nationality & Borders Bill to pass

A single vote was held on Baroness Chakrabarti’s amendment requiring that the Bill be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Refugee Convention. The amendment also required courts and tribunals to make a declaration if they are determining a matter related to the Bill which cannot be interpreted in a way that is compatible with the Convention. The motion was ‘disagreed’ and you can see voted for and against this motion here. As a result of this motion falling, the whole Bill was passed:

Hansard: Nationality and Borders Bill
Volume 712: debated on Wednesday 20 April 2022

The debate of proposals from the Lords is written here – it goes back to the Lords on 26 April 2022 for consideration of Commons amendments

Read more:

20 April 2022: Guardian: Tory MPs ignore celebrity entreaties and back immigration bill

Only handful of rebels vote against government to support Lords amendments

The actor Juliet Stevenson has made an 11th-hour plea to Conservative MPs voting on the government’s controversial immigration bill on Wednesday to “be brave and vote with your heart, not with your party membership card”.

Stevenson has urged MPs who are backing the nationality and borders bill to instead back Lords amendments in support of refugees.

However, on Wednesday night MPs backed plans to offshore asylum seekers and introduce a two-tier refugee system. Eleven Conservatives voted against the government and backed giving asylum seekers the right to work including Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley, William Wragg, vice-chair of the 1922 committee, Steve Baker and former cabinet ministers Robert Buckland, David Davis and Andrew Mitchell.

Read more:

19 April 2022: JPIT: Senior Church leaders write to MPs ahead of vote on the Nationality & Borders Bill

Senior Church leaders have written to all MPs ahead of Wednesday’s vote on the Nationality and Borders Bill, urging them to use their influence to make changes to the Bill.

The Nationality and Borders Bill is due to come before MPs on Wednesday 20th April, to allow them to vote on amendments proposed by the House of Lords. The Bill is in its final stages and continues to be backed by the government, despite having suffered multiple defeats in the House of Lords.

The Church leaders who have signed the letter represent a range of denominations and traditions in the UK, many of whom have been outspoken about the Bill over the past year. The letter has been sent to every MP currently elected to the House of Commons.

You can read the full text of the letter below.


We are writing as a group of Christian leaders, from denominations and traditions across the UK, ahead of the vote on the Nationality and Borders Bill in the House of Commons this week. We want to take this last opportunity to make it clear where we stand on the Nationality and Borders Bill. We urge you to use your influence to encourage concessions to the Bill ahead of the vote, and to support the changes made to the Bill in the House of Lords.

Faith groups have been outspoken on our concerns about the Bill since the start of the process. We have made it clear how we feel the Bill fails to uphold the principles and values of the UK by creating hostility and fostering discrimination against some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Only in the last few weeks we have witnessed the seemingly limitless compassion and commitment shown by UK citizens as they have welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their lives and homes. Yet the Nationality and Borders Bill directly contradicts this approach. We find it challenging to understand how the policies within the Bill will work in practice, except that they will cause hardship, criminalise innocent people and fracture families.

The amendments made in the House of Lords will improve the Bill as they seek to bring it in line with international convention, compassion and care for our common humanity. In particular, we support amendments made to expand and protect family reunion rights, to enable asylum seekers to work after waiting six months for their application outcome, to establish a target for resettlement and to amend the two-tier system proposed for asylum seekers. Each of these amendments recognises that the trauma and need of a person seeking asylum should be prioritised, and that we should do all we can to offer opportunities for people and families to restore their lives in a place of safety. In supporting these amendments, we urge you not to vote against the lives of vulnerable children, men, women and families who are in desperate need of our support.

At this time of Easter, as Christians we celebrate new life and new hope. Our faith tells us that our God-given hope in new life should influence the way we treat our neighbour, wherever they come from. As the Nationality and Borders Bill comes before you this week, we ask you to consider how your vote demonstrates how you care for those most vulnerable in our world.

Regardless of the outcome of this week’s vote, we will not stop advocating for love to be shown to our neighbour through the policies and practices in our asylum system. Churches across the UK will continue to come alongside those who remain in desperate need of our friendship and welcome.

We wish to encourage you in your role, and hold you in our prayers during this time.

With Regards,

Read more:

Updated 5 April 2022: Hansard: House of Lords: Nationality & Borders Bill

see 6.45pm Lord Dubs speaking:

Twitter: House of Lords @UKHouseofLords votes to require all refugees arriving in UK receive same rights under Refugee Convention and ability to maintain family unity. Members vote 191 for, 148 against motion D1 in #NationalityBordersBill, so the change is made

The Mirror: Boris Johnson dealt avalanche of Lords defeats over his ‘inhumane’ refugees Bill

Lords voted to remove the harshest elements of the Nationality and Borders Bill – which a Bishop branded ‘inhumane’, and an ex-Supreme Court justice said ‘flagrantly breaches’ our human rights requirements

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel were tonight dealt an avalanche of defeats in the House of Lords over their “inhumane” crackdown on refugees.

[…] Votes were still going past 10pm, but those which defeated the government at the time of writing included:

  • Lords backed by 162 to 141, majority 21, a change which meant the offence of helping an asylum seeker to enter the UK could only be committed if it is carried out “without reasonable excuse”.
  • Peers backed by 163 votes to 138, majority 25, removing a broad provision making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, limiting it to only those who breach a deportation order.
  • A move to force the Government to publish a numerical target for the resettlement of refugees to the UK each year was backed by 159 to 150, majority nine.
  • A demand for unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Europe to be allowed to join a family member legally in the UK was backed by 181 votes to 144, majority 37.
  • Peers supported by 176 votes to 153, majority 23, a demand that the controversial proposal to offshore asylum claims should be subject to approval by both Houses of Parliament and a report prepared on the costs.
  • Peers backed by 179 votes to 152, majority 27, a move that would ensure the UK could not deny asylum to refugees who passed through a “safe” third country until it had formal return agreements in place.
  • Lords renewed their demand by 199 votes to 132, majority 67, that asylum seekers be allowed to work if no decision had been taken on their claim after six months.
  • Peers inflicted a further Government defeat aimed at preventing asylum seekers being treated differently based on how they entered the UK. The Lords backed the changes by 191 to 148, majority 43.
  • Peers backed by 189 votes to 151, majority 38, a move aimed at ensuring the measures are in line with existing international commitments to refugees.
  • They also defeated the Government in demanding extra safeguards over a controversial measure that would allow people to be stripped of their British citizenship without warning. It was backed 209-165.

Guardian: Priti Patel’s immigration bill suffers multiple defeats in Lords

Peers find fault with many aspects of nationality and borders bill, in particular proposal to divide refugees into classes

[…] The government is expected to prorogue parliament later this month, but still has a number of major bills to take through both houses.

The usual convention is that the Lords is expected to give way if MPs make it plain they do not back amendments from peers. But the lack of remaining time means a miscalculation by the government could force concessions or cause the bill to fall.

Updated 4 April 2022: The Observer: The Observer view on Britain’s cruel and unfit refugee policy

[…] An independent report published last week by Wendy Williams, who conducted the independent review of Windrush, found the Home Office had resoundingly failed to improve its culture and was consequently at risk of another major crisis.

Making cruel, inhumane and inflexible bureaucracy an integral aspect of government policy in order to try to drive down immigration and asylum numbers has had dreadful consequences. It has led to people who are British by any meaningful measure being denied basic rights and young people who have spent the majority of their childhood in Britain finding on turning 18 that they are not eligible for the same educational support as their peers. It has rendered the state incapable of fulfilling its ethical obligations to people fleeing conflict and torture in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine. Incremental reform will not do: the UK’s immigration and asylum system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch.

Read more:

Updated 28 March 2022: Guardian: ‘False hope’: refugee charity attacks UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme

[SNN signatory] Positive Action in Housing says visas not being granted and refugees seeking sponsors are putting themselves in danger.

A charity that is helping Ukrainian refugees trying to come to the UK has said no visas have been granted to those it is supporting, nearly a fortnight after a government scheme was launched.

The head of Positive Action in Housing, Robina Qureshi, said the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme had given people “false hope” and amounted to a “gimmick”.

Read more:

22 March 2022: Day of shame: Hansard: Nationality and Borders Bill, debated on Tuesday 22 March 2022

Guardian: Minister admits Ukrainian refugees arriving in UK illegally would risk jail under nationality bill plan – as it happened

Boris Johnson has comfortably won a series of votes overturning Lords defeats on the nationality and borders bill. As of now, the divisions list show that only four Conservative MPs have voted against the government in one or more of the divisions. On the most contentious issue, the government plan to allow asylum seekers to be sent offshore while their applications are processed, David Davis, Simon Hoare and Andrew Mitchell were the only Tories voting against. The government had a majority of 70, and 57 Tories did not vote. (In the first division of the day, only 50 Tories did not vote.) In the division where the government rejected the Lords proposal to make it easier for asylum seekers to work while their claims are being processed, only Hoare and Tim Loughton voted with the opposition, with 69 Tories not voting. Davis was the sole Conservative voting against government plans to make it easier for the home secretary to deprive someone of their citizenship. As the debate wound up, Tom Pursglove, the minister for illegal migration, clarified comments made earlier about how the bill would allow Ukrainian refugees entering the UK illegally to be jailed. Pursglove said the bill did allow people entering the country illegally to be prosecuted, but he said this power was only intended to be used in “egregious cases”.

After the votes Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said:

Today, Tory MPs voted to make it a criminal offence for Ukrainian families to arrive in the UK without the right papers, with a penalty of up to four years in prison. At a time when the British people have made clear that we need to help Ukrainian refugees, this is deeply shameful.

The Conservatives also voted against the international Refugee Convention, which Britain helped to draft in the wake of the second world war, calling on all countries to do their bit to help those fleeing the horrors of war. This should be a source of pride and for the British government to reject it when war is raging in Europe once more is inexcusable.

More than 3 million people have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion, many of them children and elderly people. They need support and solidarity from all countries. The Home Office has already been far too slow to help. Today’s votes make that much worse. Britain is better than this.

Read more:

London Economic: Full list of MPs who voted through Patel’s ‘unhinged’ plan to send asylum seekers abroad for processing

Just three Conservative MPs voted against the offshoring plan, while Edward Leigh urged the government to “hold the line”

MPs have voted through Priti Patel’s plans to send asylum seekers abroad for processing – despite warnings that it could cost more than putting them up in the Ritz Hotel.

House of Lords amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill returned to the Commons this evening as the bill neared its final stages.

Amendment 9, which called for a re-think on plans to “offshore” refugees passed with a majority of 70 after a small group of Conservative rebels joined Opposition parties in trying to defeat the controversial move.

Ascension Island was seen as the most likely location to send asylum seekers to make applications, but the Home Office ruled out the idea earlier in the day after a feasibility study, meaning possible sites for processing are still unknown.


In the Commons, Labour called the idea “unhinged” and “economically illiterate because it costs an eye-watering amount of taxpayers’ money”.

Andrew Mitchell, a former Tory Cabinet minister, has warned it would involve building a “British Guantanamo Bay” and cost £2 million per asylum seeker – more than putting them up in The Ritz hotel.

But Tom Pursglove, a Home Office minister, said: “Just to be very clear for the benefit of the House, the suggestion around the Ascension Island is untrue.”

Mr Mitchell seized on the admission, telling The Independent: “The government has quite rightly now ruled out Ascension Island for offshoring.

“Offshoring is absurdly expensive and frankly the taxpayer would be less out of pocket if we accommodated all adults in the Ritz on three meals a day and sent those under 18 to school at Eton.”

“Wrecking ball”

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “With this vote, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have taken a wrecking ball to the home that we once offered to refugees.”

Just three Conservative MPs – Mr Mitchell, ex-Brexit secretary David Davis and Simon Hoare, chair of the Northern Ireland Committee – voted against the offshoring plan.

Edward Leigh, a veteran Tory MP, urged the government to “hold the line” against the criticism, because of the “overwhelming number of people who want to come here”.

“If we don’t, it would have a catastrophic effect on race relations, because people would be angry about it,” he told the Commons.

“They would think ‘why did I vote Brexit when I can’t even control my own borders? What is the government doing?’.”

Full list

Here’s the full list of MPs who voted in favour of Patel’s offshoring plans:

Read more here:

Monday 21 March 2022 is National Day of Action against the Nationality and Borders Bill

Updated 19 March 2022: From These Walls will Fall: Monday is World Poetry Day and it’s also the #TogetherWithRefugees Day of Action.

In Manchester, experts with lived experience of the asylum system are coming together to speak out.

Join us at St Peters Square to hear their stories and poems and stand against the Borders Bill

SNN Signatory: City of Sanctuary: National Day of action 21 March 2022

Nationality and Borders bill returns to the House of Commons on 21st March and MPs vote on if these appalling policies will become law. This bill will see people fleeing war and persecution – some of the world’s most vulnerable people – criminalised, detained and deported.

The compassion and support someone receives should be down to need, not nationality.

March 21st is the next big day of action.
City of Sanctuary UK is asking supporters to get in touch with your MP to push some key amendments that we want to see changed in the Bill:

● The removal of Clause 11 which would permit the Home Office to treat people differently based on how they arrived here.⁣

● The introduction of a new and safe route by setting an ambitious but deliverable target to resettle 10,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees a year. ⁣

The House of Lords have already rejected much of this bill.

Now is the time to call on your MP to support refugee rights and let them know to vote WITH the Lords’ amendments.

Read more:

Manchester World: Nationality and Borders Bill: groups in Manchester protest against refugee legislation

Community groups will stand together to express their opposition to legislation critics have dubbed the Anti-Refugee Bill.

Groups supporting asylum seekers and refugees will come together in Manchester city centre for a protest against the Government’s controversial Nationality and Borders Bill.

A Greater Manchester day of action against the legislation is being planned for Monday (21 March).

What is happening for the day of action against the Nationality and Borders Bill?

Groups wanting to show their opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill will meet in Manchester city centre on Monday 21 March.

The protest takes place in St Peter’s Square and will begin at 1pm.

Read more:

Updated 18 March 2022: Leigh Day: Home Office Refuses to Reveal Results of Consultation on Nationality and Borders Bill

Freedom from Torture has made an urgent appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to secure the release of vital consultation reports before the Nationalities and Borders Bill becomes law. The Bill, which implements aspects of the Government’s controversial New Plan for Immigration (NPI), is due to have its Third Reading in the House of Commons this week.

However, Freedom from Torture is extremely concerned that MPs will be voting on the Bill without having seen the results of a major consultation exercise into the NPI, because the Home Office has refused to release the results. The Home Office commissioned Britain Thinks, an “insight and strategy consultancy”, to run a six-week consultation into the NPI in Spring 2021, prompting 8,590 responses to an online questionnaire. Usually, the Home Office follows up such an exercise by sharing a “consultation grid” to explain which aspects of submissions will or will not be taken on board. However, in this case the Government published a 22-page document after the Bill had been introduced, setting out only its own broad brush response to the consultation. It did not provide any detail of other consultation responses or set out the basis for its own response.

Read more: Leigh Day,

Updated 10 March 2022: Petition to remove Clause 11

You may already have signed other petitions about this, but if they’re not on the parliamentary website , this government will ignore them. Fortunately there is now this one:

Rethinking Security Physical Security: Borders, Movement and the Fear of Migrants

Migration is a physical process that is used by the government to evoke physical fears of insecurity. A decade into the Hostile Environment, Brian Dikoff argues that the physical reality for many migrants in the UK is being inside but excluded, needed but not wanted, a convenient threat.

When we think about the word or the concept of “security” we often think about the idea of physical security and boundaries: police officers, military power and high walls which keep the enemies and intruders away. Evidently, the concept of physical security is important. If COVID has shown us anything it is how easy it can be to take for granted the physical security that we enjoy: the simple ability to walk down the streets safely, to meet our friends and family and to not have to be in any state of alert. 

Read more:

Updated 8 March 2022: International Women’s Day: Metro – First Person: I’ve been waiting so long for asylum that I haven’t seen my family in 10 years

My wedding was the happiest day of my life.

But as I looked into the crowd of people while I was standing at the front, my family’s faces were absent. 

I can’t tell you how much I wish they could have seen me get married – for them to see me that happy.

They couldn’t be there because I am claiming asylum in the UK, which means I haven’t seen my family back in my home country for 10 years. They have dreamed of my wedding day since I was young. So have I.

[…] The system is already incredibly hostile, but if the Nationality and Borders Bill is passed, it will be even more so – tearing up so many more love stories like mine.

Instead of seeing people like me as a threat, the Government needs to lead with compassion. All I ask for is the chance to finally live my life.

Let me use my skills to support myself. Let me live with my husband without fear that we will be separated.

I pray our love story can have a happy ending.

Read more here:


‘Undocumented people’ or ‘undocumented migrants’ are people whose
residence is not recognized by the country they live in. They have not yet
been able to obtain a residence permit or citizenship because of restrictive
migration and residence policies. Many have had residence permissions
linked to employment, study, family, or international protection, but those
permits were either temporary or very precarious and their validity expired.
There are also children who are born to undocumented parents and inherit
this precarious residence status.

‘Regularisation’ refers to any process or procedure through which someone
can obtain a residence status from a relevant government authority
authorising – ‘regularising’ – their stay in the country they residence in. The
person applies for these procedures from inside the country, including when
residing irregularly, in contrast to residence and work permits which have to
be applied for from another country. Two main subsets exist: programmes,
which have a limited time period in which to apply, and ongoing mechanisms,
with applications accepted on a rolling basis.
‘Regularisation’ is also the moment that an undocumented person obtains a
residence status for the country they live in.

Read here:

Updated 5 March 2022: Status Now Network’s North West regional coordinator Mariam Yusuf of WAST was speaking in Manchester today

at a solidarity rally with refugees sponsored by stand up to racism, WAST, RAPAR, Care for Calais. Unison North West Black Members and Unison, Unite and PCS trade Union branches

1 March 2022: SNN signatory Care4Calais reports:

Last night the House of Lords voted against one of the most unfair and cruel parts of the government’s anti-refugee bill.

They voted by 204-126 to remove Clause 11, which would allow the government to pick and choose to which refugees it gives protection.

At the moment, we judge all asylum seekers in the same way, based how badly they need our help.

But Clause 11 would change that. It would mean that instead of respecting the principle that all people deserve fairness, our government could subjectively decide which people it wants to help.

Of course the government doesn’t put it like that; they say they will protect only those travelling by legal routes. But as the government creates the legal routes, it amounts to the same thing.

In the last few days the war in the Ukraine has reminded us how important universal principles are. We are seeing markedly different reactions to politically-acceptable Ukranian refugees than we have previously seen to dark-skinned refugees escaping from similar conflicts.

It is critical that we know that life and death decisions, like who gets asylum, are being correctly made, for the right reasons, every time.

Clause 11 is the cruel heart of the bill, and goes against the spirit of all refugee law. To reject Clause 11 is to reject a fundamental intention of the bill, so this is a significant victory. It sends out a message that the worst parts of the anti-refugee bill can still be defeated if only our MPs will listen.

There is hope.

28 February2022: On 28th February 2022, 1000+ faith leaders wrote to the Prime Minister to express their horror at the Nationality and Borders Bill and to urge him to rethink the legislation. You can read the full letter and see the list of signatories below.

Faith leaders letter on the Nationality and Borders Bill

Dear Prime Minister,

As leaders within faith communities across the UK, we are horrified and appalled about the potential repercussions of the Nationality and Borders Bill. We urge you to reconsider the proposals even at this late stage.

We are united in our commitment to play an active role in civic life, offering practical support to many in need. However, it is also the duty of faith and community leaders to pay attention to issues of public policy that will directly impact the communities in which we serve and speak out about issues which affect the moral and ethical wellbeing of our society. We assert that the values that bind UK citizens together, especially those concerning human dignity and life, will be fundamentally damaged by this Bill, and so we would like to address two aspects of it with which we are particularly concerned.

Currently, Clause 11 sets out the differential treatment of refugees. This separation of refugees into ‘Group 1’ or ‘Group 2’ undermines the longstanding and widely understood expectation that a person’s asylum application is decided on the individual merits of their case and whether they would face serious threats to their life or freedom if they were not to be granted refugee status. The artificial manufacture of a two-tier system creates two different classes of refugees. This would not be based on needs or merits but would depend on the ability of a person to arrive in the UK via a ‘regular’ route of travel. This is a clear breach of the principles of the Refugee Convention, and we have seen no credible evidence that it will stop irregular migration across the English Channel; it is therefore, policy made without a basis in evidence or morality. Criminalizing and punishing vulnerable asylum seekers who have little choice but to arrive in the UK through ‘irregular routes’, when the majority[1] are subsequently able to prove that they have a legitimate basis for their asylum claim, is a disgraceful and dishonourable policy, and should be abandoned.

We remain in the dark about how the Government intends to expand and implement new safe routes to the UK for asylum seekers despite relying heavily on safe routes to justify the Bill. Many faith groups across the country have experience of Community Sponsorship projects, of providing services for refugee integration, of initiating multi-faith dialogue and cooperation around refugee support, and of providing for the immediate needs of those experiencing poverty because of their place in the asylum system. They have witnessed first-hand the positive impact safe routes have on those in need of sanctuary and on communities who are privileged to be able to offer it. Therefore, we ask that the Government would recognise the predominant reasons why asylum seekers risk their lives to come to the UK, often a combination of desperation, family reunion and language. The Nationality and Borders Bill provides a wonderful opportunity for the Government to stand by its traditional values of family life, community service and respect for human dignity (values that we share) and, 1. Expand family reunion rules to ensure safe passage of those children and vulnerable adults trying to reach family members in the UK, 2. Open new safe routes for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Europe and, 3. Create and implement ambitious new resettlement schemes – always setting compassionate and ambitious targets.

It is a sad fact that in our broken world, forced migration is not a temporary crisis; it is an on-going reality. While there is still conflict and injustice in the world, there will always be desperate people needing to seek sanctuary from war, persecution and suffering. We cannot close our door on them, but this Bill does just that. What we need now, is political leadership which acknowledges and allays the concerns of the public while promoting the importance of compassion, human life and dignity.

We remain willing to assist in any way we can to this end, and ask that key representatives on this issue from the government would agree to meet with faith representatives to explore what both we, and the government, can do to help address some of the concerns we have raised.


Yours sincerely,

Read more here:

Halifax Courier: Campaigners in Halifax join national protest against Borders Bill

Campaigners in Halifax joined a national day of action on Sunday by protesting outside the town hall against the Borders Bill.

Migrants and refugees rights campaigners began their protest at 1pm in action co-ordinated by These Walls Must Fall, Migrants Organise and Leeds Anti Raids.

The campaigners and their allies are opposed to the Bill because they say it is inhumane and violates international law, specifically, the Refugee Convention, European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on Reduction of Statelessness.

Campaigners say it violates the human rights of people seeking protection under international law and that some of the proposals in the Bill include deporting people seeking asylum to offshore detention camps, removing support currently provided to destitute people seeking sanctuary, imposing a “good faith” clause on people seeking asylum and their advocates.

Read more:

24 February 2022: (on 22 Feb) Scottish Refugee Council 🧡@scotrefcouncil📣The Scottish Parliament has just voted 94-29 to reject the anti-refugee bill.

The message is loud and clear – this is not in our name.

Updated 15 February 2022: Behold the new ‘hostile environment’ – with the power to rob millions of British citizenship

Sayeeda Warsi

The government promised to learn from Windrush, but citizens trafficked to Syria by Islamic State have also been abandoned

The government’s proposed new powers to strip people of their citizenship without notice rang alarm bells in communities across Britain. Despite being the first Muslim woman in our country’s history to serve in the cabinet, my family and I could be deprived of our citizenship without being told about it, and cast out of our home country if the Home Office believed this would be conducive to the public good. Two in five people from ethnic minority backgrounds could be at risk.

Successive British governments have torn down the basic belief that all British citizens in this country are and should be equal. The consequences of this government’s unprecedentedly broad use of citizenship-stripping powers have become even more clear to me after hearing directly from the families of British citizens detained in north-east Syria.

Last week, the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on trafficked Britons in Syria, of which I’m a vice-chair, published the findings of its inquiry into the grooming and trafficking of British nationals by Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. What we found is devastating. Not only did UK authorities fail to protect vulnerable women and girls from being trafficked by IS, but the government has essentially punished some of those women for the crimes committed by their traffickers by stripping them of their citizenship.

Read more:

Updated 9 February 2022: Hansard: Nationality and Borders Bill Volume 818: debated on Tuesday 8 February 2022: Clause 28

Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate: Clause 28, page 33, line 20, leave out paragraph (a)

Member’s explanatory statement: This amendment is linked to the amendment to leave out paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 3.

My Lords, I hope that I will not bore you for long. I shall take careful note of the Chief Whip’s remarks but I am very pleased to introduce Amendments 100, 101 and 102. I thank those Lords spiritual and temporal who have added their names to these amendments and who are supportive of the contents.

These amendments seek to remove amendments to Section 77 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 from Schedule 3. The intention is to erase the proposal contained in the Bill to introduce powers to export offshore any person in the UK who is seeking asylum without first considering their claim. Few would disagree that protection and control of our borders, primary responsibilities of any Government, are noble and necessary objectives. A Home Secretary must be able to discharge her duties in this respect, which include expediting deportation swiftly and without delay where illegality has been determined under the rules. This was certainly my approach when I served as Immigration Minister in the 1990s.

Most would agree that the process by which we pursue these objectives matters no less than the solutions on the table. Indeed, solutions need to be effective, but they must also be pragmatic and practical, and enforceable under domestic and international law. They need to be imaginative but also financially viable. They must be firm but also fair. I am afraid that Clause 28 and Schedule 3 fail on these counts. In very literal terms, Clause 28 amends the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which states that a person seeking asylum cannot be removed from the UK while their asylum claim is being processed—in other words, before a final decision is given on their refugee status, including access to an appeal. However, paragraph 1 of Schedule 3 to the Bill withdraws those rights by allowing the transfer of any asylum seeker to any country which will be listed in Section 77 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 as amended by Schedule 3.

Before Brexit, under the Dublin regulations, the UK Government could remove an asylum seeker from the UK while their claim was still pending but only to return them to the EU country of first entry and only after having issued a certificate under Schedule 3 to the Asylum and Immigration Act that permitted them a legal right to do so. With the end of the UK’s involvement in the Dublin regulations this option became inaccessible. However, Clause 28 would provide the Home Secretary with the legal power to forcibly remove any asylum seeker from the UK while their claim is still pending to another country which the Government have deemed safe. Clause 28 would allow them to do this without seeking and issuing a certificate under Schedule 3 to the 2004 Act. This goes against our legal and constitutional principles and surely should be repudiated.

All credible immigration systems must first acknowledge the distinction between immigration and asylum. A person who comes here for economic reasons is definitely not the same as a person who comes here to seek safety. The Bill’s failure to disentangle these definitions is significant because in the Government’s bid to control overall immigration, it will be vulnerable people—those fleeing conflict and persecution—who would be disproportionately and adversely affected.

Read more here:

Updated 4 February 2022: University of Nottingham: Anti-slavery sector urges government to make major changes to “dangerous” Nationality and Borders Bill

The government’s Nationality and Borders Bill risks causing damage to the survivors the government intends to protect, modern slavery experts warn in a new report.

Research undertaken by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab to investigate the proposals set out in Part 5 (Modern Slavery) of the Bill being debated in the House of Lords has found that, in its current form, will have negative unintended consequences on victims of trafficking and slavery.

The work of the university’s world-renowned Rights Lab will serve as an evidence base to support amendments to Part 5 of the Bill.

The news comes after a letter, signed by more than 100 leaders in the anti-slavery sector, called for Part 5 (Modern Slavery) of the Bill to be completely removed.

The findings are summarised in a report, written in partnership with the Human Trafficking Foundation and with input from Catherine Meredith, of the Anti-Trafficking Team at Doughty Street Chambers, which details the potentially harmful consequences of the Bill, if it were to remain unchanged. 

The report shows evidence that the Bill will:

  • Create extra barriers to the identification of victims
  • Exclude significant numbers of victims, including those who are children and/or British, from receiving protection and support
  • Narrow the support victims will receive
  • Risk damaging prosecutions by preventing victims’ access to protection and support, allowing dangerous criminals to evade justice.

Leaders from the entire anti-slavery sector attest that the Bill will reduce the number of criminal prosecutions for trafficking offences as, they say, there is no incentive for victims trapped in criminal exploitation, and conversely this Bill would make it risky and precarious to come forward.

Lead author Kate Garbers, Rights Lab Research Fellow in Policy Evidence and Survivor Support, said: “The Bill in its current form is woefully at odds with the government’s intention to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. The Bill poses risks to victim protection, criminal justice, and the UK’s fulfilment of its obligations under international law.

Read more:

29 January 2022: Migrant Voice letter:  Letter: Remove Clause 9 of the Borders Bill

 Migrant Voice - Letter: Remove Clause 9 of the Borders Bill

Today (27 January 2022), a coalition of community groups has sent an open letter signed by more than 100 organisations and individuals to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, asking for the removal of Clause 9 from the Bill.

The letter was sent this morning to the Prime Minister and will also be copied to members of the House of Lords, who will be debating the Nationality and Borders Bill in Committee today.

Clause 9 extends the powers of the Home Secretary to remove Citizenship from British nationals. If the Bill passes with the clause still in place, the Home Secretary will not have to notify any individual whose British citizenship they may decide to revoke.

The coalition was convened by Nazek Ramadan, Executive Director of Migrant Voice and Councillor Khaled Noor, Chairperson, The Muslim Professionals Forum.

The open letter received more than 110 signatures from organisations and individuals in a 24 hour period, these include the Institute of Race Relations, Best for Britain, Operation Black Vote, HOPE not hate, and Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre, Muslim Welfare House and Gurdwara Baba Sang Ji. Individuals signing also include NHS workers, a Bishop, and a Principal Lecturer in Law.

Read the letter below: 

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned alliance, representing organisations and communities across the UK from all backgrounds, religions and political affiliations, are writing to express our deep concern about Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill (the Bill), which is currently before Parliament.

We ask that the Government remove Clause 9 from the Bill currently being considered in the House of Lords.

There are millions of us in this country who became British citizens by way of naturalisation or have ancestral links to a country outside the UK, and we now feel that our citizenship is regarded as second-class, if the Bill with Clause 9 becomes law. Considering its draconian nature and its likely implications, our sense of safety, security and belonging has been shaken.

The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 6 July 2021 and Clause 9 was introduced by the Government on 2 November 2021 at the Committee stage. It proposed a new clause specifying the circumstances under which the Secretary of State would be able to deprive a person of their British citizenship without notice.

Clause 9 of the Bill proposed to change section 40 (5) of the Nationality Act 1981, which requires to give “Notice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship,” by inserting a subsection (5A). It will empower the Secretary of State to deprive citizenship without having to give notice if it is not “reasonably practicable” to do so; or if it is in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or otherwise in the public interest. This is indeed seriously concerning.

The UK Government currently has greater powers to deprive individuals of their citizenship than any other G20 country. Since 2011, the power to deprive citizenship has been used to strip at least 441 people of their citizenship, with 104 cases in 2017 alone. The proposed new discretionary power to deprive a person of citizenship without notice is fundamentally against our democratic values; rule of law and “fundamental principle” of the UK legal system that “notice of a decision is required before it can have the character of a determination with legal effect”: R (Anufrijeva) v SSHD [2004] 1 AC 604 per Lord Steyn (Lords Hoffman, Millett and Scott agreeing). Hence, adding Clause 9 would be manifestly wrong in law and common-law requirements of procedural fairness.

Clause 9 is unconstitutional and should be removed from the Bill. It breaches the common law, international legal standards, and human rights law.

However, we want to go further. We call for the powers of deprivation of British citizenship to be scrapped altogether, because of their discriminatory nature and incompatibility with democratic values.

We believe that citizenship is a right, not a privilege, and should not be subject to arbitrary deprivation. We are concerned about the increasing use and expansion of deprivation powers over the years and through changing governments. 

The existing powers to deprive an individual of their citizenship, contained in section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, as amended, are constructed in ways that greatly and disproportionately affect Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic citizens, who are far more likely to be dual nationals or be eligible for another nationality, and groups that are already marginalised.

These powers include the right to strip a dual national of their British citizenship if the Secretary of State for the Home Department is satisfied that it is “conducive to the public good”. For a naturalised British citizen, even if they are not a dual national, they can be stripped of their citizenship if the Secretary of State is satisfied they have acted in a manner “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK”, and has a “reasonable belief” that the person can become a citizen of another country, even if it makes them stateless. Some have already been made stateless.

The power to strip people of their British citizenship is a draconian measure with a disproportionate impact that is an affront to justice and to any sense of citizenship as a unifying status of all who possess it.

By introducing Clause 9, the Secretary of State proposes to exercise these powers in secret, which would affect the ability of a person to challenge the legality of the deprivation decision taken against them. As stated by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, it would render their right of appeal ‘meaningless’ and risks violating their right to a fair trial.

We call for Clause 9 to be removed from the Bill and a frank and fundamental discussion to be opened up about the government’s powers to remove citizenship.

Yours sincerely,


Read more:

Updated 4 February 2022: University of Nottingham: Anti-slavery sector urges government to make major changes to “dangerous” Nationality and Borders Bill

The government’s Nationality and Borders Bill risks causing damage to the survivors the government intends to protect, modern slavery experts warn in a new report.

Research undertaken by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab to investigate the proposals set out in Part 5 (Modern Slavery) of the Bill being debated in the House of Lords has found that, in its current form, will have negative unintended consequences on victims of trafficking and slavery.

The work of the university’s world-renowned Rights Lab will serve as an evidence base to support amendments to Part 5 of the Bill.

The news comes after a letter, signed by more than 100 leaders in the anti-slavery sector, called for Part 5 (Modern Slavery) of the Bill to be completely removed.

The findings are summarised in a report, written in partnership with the Human Trafficking Foundation and with input from Catherine Meredith, of the Anti-Trafficking Team at Doughty Street Chambers, which details the potentially harmful consequences of the Bill, if it were to remain unchanged. 

The report shows evidence that the Bill will:

  • Create extra barriers to the identification of victims
  • Exclude significant numbers of victims, including those who are children and/or British, from receiving protection and support
  • Narrow the support victims will receive
  • Risk damaging prosecutions by preventing victims’ access to protection and support, allowing dangerous criminals to evade justice.

Leaders from the entire anti-slavery sector attest that the Bill will reduce the number of criminal prosecutions for trafficking offences as, they say, there is no incentive for victims trapped in criminal exploitation, and conversely this Bill would make it risky and precarious to come forward.

Lead author Kate Garbers, Rights Lab Research Fellow in Policy Evidence and Survivor Support, said: “The Bill in its current form is woefully at odds with the government’s intention to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. The Bill poses risks to victim protection, criminal justice, and the UK’s fulfilment of its obligations under international law.

Read more:

Updated 29 January 2022: From SNN signatory organisation Migrant Voice: Clause 9 – devaluing the British passport

We are deeply concerned about Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill (the Bill) which would turn millions of us in this country into second-class citizens.

Clause 9 of the Bill currently going through parliament would enable the Secretary of State to deprive a person of their British citizenship without notice.

This clause generates fear. It makes many British people feel unsafe. It betrays millions of us. It devalues the British passport. It is racist, because those most affected, and most likely to be affected in the future, by possible withdrawal of citizenship – which the Bill reinforces – have been Muslim or Black.

Our sense of safety, security and belonging has been shaken by the prospect of the Bill with Clause 9 becoming law. There are millions of us in this country who became British citizens by way of naturalisation or have ancestral links to a country outside the UK.

The Clause would also affect the ability of a person to appeal the decision taken against them. It is unconstitutional and should be removed from the Bill. It breaches the common law, international legal standards, and human rights law.

The Home Secretary can give assurances that the withdrawal of citizenship will be used only in “exceptional circumstances”. But who decides which circumstances are exceptional?

And no Government promise today can bind a government tomorrow, perhaps operating in even more hostile, xenophobic times.

That is why we, together with an alliance representing organisations and communities across the UK from all backgrounds, religions and political affiliations, have written to the Prime Minister.

However, we want to go further than removing Clause 9 as the problem goes deeper than the issue of lack of notice. The powers of deprivation of British citizenship should be scrapped altogether, because of their discriminatory nature and incompatibility with democratic values.

The existing powers to deprive an individual of their citizenship, contained in section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, and later amendments, are constructed in ways that greatly and disproportionately affect Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic citizens, who are far more likely to be dual nationals or be eligible for another nationality, and groups that are already marginalised.

We believe that citizenship is a right, not a privilege, and should not be subject to arbitrary deprivation. We are concerned about the increasing use and expansion of deprivation powers over the years and through changing governments. 

The UK Government currently has greater powers to deprive individuals of their citizenship than any other G20 country. Since 2011, the power to deprive citizenship has been used to strip at least 441 people of their citizenship, with 104 cases in 2017 alone.

The power to strip people of their British citizenship is a draconian measure with a disproportionate impact that is an affront to justice and to any sense of citizenship as a unifying status of all who possess it.

As a result of this ill-considered, discriminatory measure families all over the country are suddenly thinking about the security of their futures: our commitment to this country is not the issue: the issue is the Government’s commitment to us, we who have proudly committed ourselves to this country.

Read more from Migrant Voice:

Updated 27 January 2022: Labour Hub: Borders and Nationality Bill: Return of the frightmare strategy

By Don Flynn, a member of the StatusNow Reference Group:

[…] The Borders and Nationality bill should properly be seen as a part of a Tory offensive which aims to rebuild the fear of migrants that was previously stoked by stories of low paid workers displacing native Brits in the labour market and taking their place in the queue for hospital appointments and other public services. Forget all you have learnt in the past few months about the heroic healthcare assistant or the farm workers filling supermarket shelves with fresh food products!  Remember, they are out there in small boats, just waiting for their chance to come at you … and maybe some of them are claiming to be British citizens as well!

Read more:

Updated 20 January 2022: Morning Star: Proposed powers to strip people of citizenship without warning would be ‘unconstitutional,’ lawyers warn

LEADING immigration lawyers have warned that powers proposed in the Nationality and Borders Bill to strip people of their citizenship without warning would be “unconstitutional.”

In a legal opinion commissioned from law firm Leigh Day, barristers also deemed the new powers to be “exorbitant and ill-defined.”

The proposals would allow Home Secretary Priti Patel to revoke a person’s citizenship without notice, as well as making past deprivation decisions lawful where they were found to be illegal due to failure to provide warning.

The opinion, published today, was authored by Raza Husain QC and Eleanor Mitchell of Matrix Chambers and Jason Pobjoy of Blackstone Chambers, and commissioned by advocacy group Cage and the Good Law Project.

Read more:

18 January 2022: Good Law Project: Nationality & Borders Bill: we asked the experts:

Today, we are publishing advice about the extension to the powers to strip Britons of their citizenship in the Nationality and Borders Bill. The advice was commissioned from some of the country’s leading immigration barristers, Raza Husain QC, Jason Pobjoy and Eleanor Mitchell, instructed by Leigh Day solicitors. We worked with Media Diversified and CAGE to commission it. 

The advice is conclusive, and alarming: 

  • “Clause 9, as presently framed, confers upon the Secretary of State an exorbitant, ill-defined and unconstitutional power to make a deprivation order without notice.”
  • The new powers are “identified in terms so broad and vague that, and on their face, they do very little to constrain the exercise of the Secretary of State’s discretion”. 
  • “Exercise of the deprivation power has a disproportionate impact on non-white British citizens”.  
  • Even without Clause 9, “the United Kingdom already has significantly more power to deprive an individual of their citizenship than any other G20 country.”
  • It describes the Clause 9 removal of the right to notice, by analogy, as “astonishingly unjust.”

We share the concerns expressed by a wide range of civil society groups about what Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill means. The provisions will affect the citizenship of almost half of all Asian British people and two in five Black Britons. 

Media Diversified told us: “Up to six million people will live in fear that one wrong move, even just one unforced error or car accident could see us arrested, judged in secret and deported. This targeted, racist legislation is an existential threat to all our loved ones, neighbours, and colleagues.”

Muhammad Rabbani, CAGE Managing Director, said: “The legal opinion outlines that citizenship deprivation overwhelmingly and disproportionately impacts minorities. This is two tier citizenship in action, and why the Bill must be challenged. Citizenship is a right we must all enjoy equally.”

We hope this legal analysis informs the debate in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It notes Hannah Arendt’s oft-quoted observation that citizenship is “the right to have rights”, and contrasts it with the troubling rhetoric recently adopted by the Home Office that “British citizenship is a privilege not a right”. 

Whatever the Government’s intent, provisions which make it easier to remove the contingent citizenship held by large numbers of black and brown people are racist in effect. We are inviting the Government to reflect on whether it wishes to embed racism in our legislation.

You can read the full legal advice from Raza Husain, Jason Pobjoy and Eleanor Mitchell here

Good Law Project only exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. If you’re in a position to support our work, you can do so here.

Media Diversified is a non-profit working to enrich, engage and improve the UK’s media landscape. The organisation was founded in 2013 with a mission to challenge the homogeneity of voices in UK news media, through addressing the under-representation of BAME communities.

CAGE is an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free of injustice and oppression. They campaign against discriminatory state policies and advocate for due process and the rule of law.

Read more:

Clause 9: Consequences of the current law – which Clause 9 of the Bill will extend:

Updated 21 January 2022: Guardian: Hundreds stripped of British citizenship in last 15 years, study finds

Research by lawyer-run website finds Home Office has removed citizenship of at least 464 people since relaxation of law

[…] McKinney found that since 2006, 175 people have been deprived of their citizenship on national security grounds, and 289 because of fraud. Prior to 2006 the power had not been used since 1973.

McKinney said he compiled the information from historic freedom of information requests and “obscure statistical publications”.

A power to deprive someone of British citizenship goes back to 1914 but in recent years the legal test about when it can be used has been watered down. Between 2006 and 2010 there were nine cases, according to freedom of information data. But by 2017 numbers had peaked at 148 people who had their citizenship removed that year. In 2018 there were 73 cases, in 2019 82 cases, and in 2020 42 cases.

Read more:

Updated 16 January 2022: Guardian: British man made stateless by Home Office has citizenship reinstated

The plight of the father of three, stranded in Bangladesh since 2017, foreshadows the dangers of the nationality bill now before parliament

A British man who was stripped of his citizenship by the Home Office for almost five years has described the “devastating” impact of the decision as the government pursues fresh powers to remove a person’s citizenship without warning.

[…] Although the UK government has reinstated his citizenship, his lawyers say they have received no explanation or any specific details to support the claims. E3 has never been charged with any criminal offence in the UK or elsewhere.

Read more:

Updated 15 January 2022: In addition to the Nationality & Borders Bill,

this Government is pushing through the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which reaches the ‘Report Stage on its journey through Parliament on 17 January 2022.

See also:

Updated 15 January 2022: Today there were many people demonstrating

… despite the freezing temperatures in London, Bristol, Coventry, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Plymouth, against the freedoms this new Bill will erode. Here is Loraine Mponela speaking at the rally in Coventry. Loraine represents CARAG on the Status Now Reference Group:

Loraine Masiya Mponela – ‘We will enjoy killing the Bill’ speech, Coventry

Loraine Masiya Mponela – ‘We will enjoy killing the Bill’ speech, Coventry 15 January 2022
From SNN signatory WAST

Quakers express deep concerns about this Bill: Overview of our concerns

Quakers in Britain object to bill for three main reasons:
• It strikes at the heart of our human right to freedom of assembly. Quakers put their faith into action by trying to bring about positive change through nonviolent means. Protest is one of the ways in which we do this.
• It will have disproportionately negative effect on groups who are already marginalised in our society, including Black people and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
• It increases the punitive nature of our policing and criminal justice system by increasing fines, prison sentences and ‘stop and search’. We do not believe this makes for a safer or happier society. We encourage MPs to listen to the Criminal Justice Alliance and Liberty on these issues.’

Read more here:

12 January 2022: Freemovement: How asylum seekers can get jobs in social care

On the last working day before Christmas, the government announced that it is adding social care workers to the Health and Care visa and Shortage Occupation List. The change is due to come into force “in February 2022“.

The Home Office describes this as a temporary measure, in place for a minimum of 12 months. During that period, all roles within SOC Code 6145 will be eligible for sponsorship at a minimum salary of £20,480: care assistant, care worker, carer, home care assistant, home carer and support worker (nursing home).

In addition, the fact that they are going on the Shortage Occupation List means that people who have been waiting over a year for a decision on an asylum claim can apply for permission to work in these roles.

Working while in the asylum system

The shortage of care home workers has been well documented and the Migration Advisory Committee recommended including them on the shortage list in its annual report published on 15 December. But the government declined to implement another recommendation from that report, namely to review the policy on allowing people seeking asylum to work. This is only allowed if the person has been waiting over 12 months for an initial decision on their claim through no fault of their own, and then only to work in shortage jobs.

The MAC said that one option would be to allow people to work if they have been waiting for six months. It also questioned the value of restricting permission to work to the Shortage Occupation List, describing the reasoning behind the decision as not “particularly coherent”. 

The Home Office regularly complains about the cost of asylum support. This is largely self-inflicted, arising from the combination of decision-making delays and the prohibition on working in the meantime. The excellent Lift the Ban report highlights the savings possible from allowing people seeking asylum to work after six months rather than 12. But the department worries that permission to work acts as a “pull factor”, and concluded that the report’s assumptions are “highly optimistic. Having considered a wide range of available evidence the Home Office believes that a more realistic set of assumptions would present a more nuanced picture”.

It has declined to share this evidence. As the MAC put it: “To the extent that the Home Office has robust evidence to support a link between the employment ban and a pull factor, they should of course make this evidence publicly available for scrutiny and review. That is how good policy is made”.

Nonetheless, the addition of these care roles to the Shortage Occupation List provides some hope for people stuck in the asylum system for more than a year (over 33,000 in 2020) and who are reliant on wholly inadequate asylum support.

Read more:

10 January 2021: BBC: Nationality and Borders Bill: Why is it causing protests?

Terrorists, war criminals, spies – that’s who the government says it’s targeting as part of a shake-up of immigration law.

Under the Nationality and Borders Bill being debated in the House of Lords, if the British government wants to remove someone’s citizenship it will no longer need to tell them.

Home Secretary Priti Patel says the law would be used in “exceptional circumstances” on people who pose the most risk to the UK.

But protests have been taking place against the plans – some fear that ethnic minorities could be treated differently to white Britons for committing the same crime.

The government told Newsbeat there has been “scaremongering” around the bill that is “just plain wrong and doesn’t match the reality”.

How do you lose your citizenship?

Citizenship is the right to live in a country – without it, people cannot vote, and they might struggle to work or access education or healthcare.

But removing citizenship isn’t new – the British government has been able to do it for more than a century and the home secretary decides each case personally.

In recent years it has been linked to cases of Islamic terrorism, such as British-born Shamima Begum, who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State group in 2015. Her citizenship was revoked in 2019 on security grounds.

Read more:

Morning Star: Civil society figures call on peers to reject ‘overtly racist’ Nationality and Borders Bill

ONE hundred leading civil society figures issued a joint call today demanding politicians reject the “overtly racist” Nationality and Borders Bill.

The damning open letter, signed by Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley and Runnymede Trust CEO Dr Halima Begum, was released ahead of the Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

It describes the proposed legislation — dubbed the “anti-refugee Bill” by critics — as the “latest assault against migrant rights and the democratic rights of British citizens.”

Citing measures that would allow Home Secretary Priti Patel to strip people of their citizenship without notice, the signatories warn the Bill would be particularly “unjust for people of colour, and those born outside the UK.”

“This is an overtly racist piece of legislation,” it claims, accusing the Home Office of “effectively collaborating with other governments to make people stateless.”

Read more:

5 January 2022: Hansard: Members of the Lords discuss the main principles and purpose of the Nationality and Borders Bill during second reading, on Wednesday 5 January.

Members speaking : Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative), Minister of State at the Home Office, will open the debate and respond on behalf of the government. 

  • Lord Dubs (Labour), former chief Executive, Refugee Council and former trustee, Immigration Advisory Service
  • Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat), Liberal Democrat spokesperson on immigration
  • Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (Crossbench), trustee, Refugee Council
  • Baroness Warsi (Conservative), adviser, Tracks of Peace (UK charity promoting human, racial and religious tolerance among communities and nations in conflict).

Find out more about the issues discussed: catch up on Parliament TV or read the Lords Hansard transcript.

Committee stage, the first chance for line by line examination of the bill, is scheduled to begin on Thursday 27 January.

From today’s debate:

Re Clause 9: 5.03: Baroness Fox of Buckley

What really worries me is the Home Office’s response to all this on Clause 9. It is constantly quoted as saying:

“British citizenship is a privilege, not a right.”

Excuse me? Actually, British citizenship is a right for all British citizens. It worries me that the Home Office considers it its gift to hand down or snatch away. It suggests a two-tier citizenship atmosphere. Frances Webber,** vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations, spells out the consequences when she says that it

“sends the message that certain citizens, despite being born and brought up in the UK, and having no other home, remain migrants in this country. Their citizenship, and therefore all their rights, are precarious and contingent.”

If this Government want to encourage new migrants to integrate into British society and make them feel welcome, they should drop Clause 9.

**Frances Webber – see the article below dated 17 December 2021 – Institute of Race Relations

Read a transcript of the debate here:

Independent: Nationality and Borders Bill would make people like me second-class citizens, warns peer

Exclusive: Equalities campaigner Lord Woolley says controversial legislation has echoes of Windrush scandal

The controversial Nationality and Borders Bill will make Black and Asian Britons second-class citizens as they face the possibility of having their UK citizenship revoked without notice, a peer has warned.

Lord Woolley, an equalities activist, said he would also face being stripped of citizenship under Clause 9 of the bill in this way as his mother was born in the Caribbean.

Under the proposed legislation, which is being debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday, those who are eligible for citizenship of another country could be quietly stripped of UK status if it were deemed to be in the “national interest”.

“This will further exacerbate the reality that millions of British people, many of African, Caribbean and Asian descent, are second class citizens,” Lord Woolley told The Independent.

“I’m a lord of this realm and yet I’d be rendered as such because my mother was born in Barbados.

Read more:

5 January 2022: Foreign Affairs: Rich Countries Cannot Outsource Their Migration Dilemmas

The Only Solution Is to Make Legal Immigration Easier

Few problems trouble wealthy democracies today as much as uncontrolled migration. Public concerns about incoming migrants drove the British vote in favor of leaving the European Union and facilitated the ascent of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Today, a rise in migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexican border is creating political turmoil for U.S. President Joe Biden. Whether they are fleeing persecution, driven away by natural disasters, or searching for economic opportunities, migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees all find themselves unwelcome in the global North. 

Read more:

1 January 2022: Guardian: UK ministers eager to ease immigration rules for Indian citizens

Offer could be on table in upcoming trade talks in Delhi in bid to access to country’s growing economy

Ministers are keen to ease immigration restrictions in a bid to make it easier for thousands of Indian citizens to live and work in the UK as part of forthcoming trade talks.

The potential offer will be under discussion when the international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, travels to Delhi this month, reports the Times. Relaxing immigration rules for Indian citizens is a key demand from Delhi.

Read more:

and … 24 December 2021:

BBC: Social care: Immigration rules to be relaxed to recruit staff

Immigration rules are to be temporarily relaxed for overseas care workers in a bid to recruit and keep staff, the government has announced.

Social care workers, care assistants and home care workers are to become eligible for a health and care visa for a 12-month period.

The government said this would make it easier to fill gaps in workforces.

It followed warnings the sector faced “severe and increasing” problems with hiring and keeping staff after Brexit.

Care workers are to be added to the shortage occupation list, which is designed to help migrants get work visas to fill jobs where there are shortages.

The temporary measures are expected to come into effect early next year, the Department of Health and Social Care said, and will be in place for a minimum of 12 months.

After this, the arrangement will be reviewed, the department added.

Read more:

Comment: Many undocumented workers are already doing the care work and it will help the care sector if Indefinite Leave to Remain is granted to all undocumented. The pool of skilled and experienced workers already here will then be able to work properly.

17 December 2021: Institute of Race Relations: Clause 9:

Of all the abhorrent clauses in the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which passed its Commons stages last week, it is clause 9 – which would allow ministers to revoke the citizenship of British nationals without notice on ‘public interest’ grounds, which has caused the most outrage. When the New Statesman reported that the clause could affect up to six million citizens who have or have access to a second citizenship, most from ethnic minorities, fear and anger erupted on social media, in the pressin parliament and in MPs’ constituency surgeries. Activists and community groups have responded with alacrity to raise the alarm, with almost a quarter of a million people signing a parliamentary petition to remove the clause from the bill. The IRR is working with several organisations including Reprieve, Muslim Association of Britain, Rights and Security International, and Status Now for All to oppose clause 9.

Although the clause doesn’t change the law on who can lose citizenship and on what grounds, with the Home Office now openly declaring that ‘citizenship is a privilege, not a right’, it has brought home to a wider public what Black and Muslim communities have long since known; namely the precarious nature of British citizenship as a result of changes brought in since 2002, and the ‘deportation logic’ on which they are based. This logic – ship ‘em out, regardless of family ties, or how long they have lived here, if they cause trouble, or can’t prove their right to be here – deprived the Windrush generation of their livelihoods, their homes, and in some cases their freedom and their country. Now, this deportation logic, which is inherently expansive, is applied to British-born citizens too – and this fact drives public anger. But it has been internalised to the extent that some of the Bill’s opponents have fallen into the trap of calling for the deportation of its architects. While some may think it is obvious that their comments are ironic, sarcasm if it is not used carefully can end up cutting us.

Anti-racists need to seize this moment, to build on the anger and revulsion to make connections. We should reflect that this latest assault is not exceptional, but the intended expansion of a violent system that dehumanises the most vulnerable, excludes ‘undeserving’ others and entrenches hierarchies of belonging. Our ambition should be wider than simply getting rid of clause 9 – we should have in our sights the exclusionary logic of citizenship deprivation and its expansion since 2002, and also the parallel exclusionary logic which will see refugees pushed back, denied sanctuary and offshored by this Bill.

As ever, policies that create hierarchies of belonging and campaigns that push back against dehumanisation are further touched upon in our regular calendar of racism and resistance. The last two weeks have been marked by the sheer number of legal challenges, whistleblower revelations and investigations into government asylum and border policies in the UK, Denmark and Greece. But there are other ways too to counter hierarchies of belonging, as students at Durham University well know. They simply walked out of a Christmas event because they objected to guest speaker Rod Liddle’s ‘transphobic and racist’ views, prompting a formal investigation by the university.

Read more:

15 December 2021: The Conversation: Stripping British citizenship: the government’s new bill explained

A restrictive new immigration law being debated in parliament has huge implications, not only for people seeking asylum in Britain but also for British citizens.

The nationality and borders bill is now in the House of Lords for readings after passing through the House of Commons. The bill makes it a criminal offence to arrive in the UK without permission, with a maximum sentence of up to four years. The bill lets the UK send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”, and can allow for offshore processing centres overseas instead of considering their asylum claims in the UK.

Read more:

Gov.Wales: Wales and Scotland unite to call for talks on concerns with UK asylum policy

In a wide ranging letter, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt, and Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison have written to the Home Office asking for urgent talks on the significant concerns with the Nationality and Borders Bill and asked for discussions to help prevent further loss of life in the English Channel.

The Scottish and Welsh governments also raised significant concerns with the National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and issues around asylum dispersal.

The International Organisation for Migration report that 166 people have been recorded as dead or missing since 2014 after undertaking the dangerous journey across the Channel, including 27 who perished in November.

The full text of the letter is included here:

Read more here:

Updated 14 December 2021: **Petition to sign** National Scot: Borders Bill: 145,000 people sign petition urging rethink on citizenship clause

Kashif Iqbal hopes the petition he started will lead to changes to the Nationality and Borders Bill in the House of Lords .

ONE of the clauses in the controversial new Nationality and Borders Bill seeks to revoke the British citizenship of members of ethnic minority communities without notice under the guise of national security.

Now a British Pakistani whose home is in Glasgow has launched a petition on against Clause 9, saying it is against international law and would be especially problematic for British Asian Muslims.

Kashif Iqbal, who manages a men’s grooming salon in the city, started the petition before MPs passed the Bill, and so far it has gathered around 145,000 signatures. [Sign here]

He said the UK Government had “quietly” made the changes to Clause 9, to allow the removal of citizenship should an individual be deemed a security threat.

“The changes are draconian and offer an individual little to no chance to appeal,” he said.

“It is against international law to deprive a person of citizenship and inhumane not to allow one to appeal a decision made in their absence or knowledge. This practise is alien and frowned upon even by the UK’s closest allies.

Read more:

How did MPs vote on 8 December 2021 : you can toggle between MPs by name and by Party:

9 December 2021 update: Status Now Network Editorial

An exponential expansion of the number of people in the UK with precarious status: one potential implication of Clause 9 of the current Nationality and Borders Bill.

‘“It’s a horrible Clause”. Frances Webber, Institute of Race Relations, London.

The idea that ‘an uncommunicated decision can bind an individual’ is ‘an astonishing proposition’[1].

In August of this year Sky News published analysis[2] of the last three years of ‘complete’ Home Office data relating to migration.  Demonstrating that the people who arrive in the UK in small boats and who generally claim asylum are only a small fraction of the number of migrants arriving in the UK each year, it admitted that ‘These numbers are based on estimates. The real number of unauthorised people in the UK is not known as official figures cannot capture the true reality.’ Sky News then fell back onto the much-cited Pew Research figure dating from 2019 that describes there being between 0.8-1.2 million migrant people in the UK who are ‘unauthorised’[3].  The Status Now Network favours the term ‘precarious’ to describe everyone in the UK without secure status.

Read more here:

8 December 2021: The New Statesman: What does the Nationality and Borders Bill mean for you?

Under the legislation, the home secretary would be able to deprive British people of citizenship without telling them first.

Read more here:

8 December 2021 update: Migrant Voice  #

Deeply disappointing to see the inhumane and draconian Nationality & #BordersBill pass Commons 298 to 231 today. The bill violates and undermines international protection laws, puts lives at risk and criminalises seeking protection. #HostileEnvironment

From SNN signatory JCWI: Toolkit link below:

Under the Hostile Environment, borders are everywhere. We might be questioned about our immigration status at a job interview, at the doctor’s office, in our faith community or even just in the street.

The Hostile Environment affects us all, migrant and non-migrant. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be dismantled – in fact, it means that all of us, no matter where we’re from or how we got here, can have the power to bring it down.

There are lots of things you can do to build your power and be part of the movement to dismantle the Hostile Environment – but it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why we’ve put together this toolkit of information and resources, to put the power back in your hands. Maybe you want to build your knowledge about the Hostile Environment. Maybe you want to grow your community and get other people active, too. Or maybe you want to stand in solidarity with people affected by the Hostile Environment. 

 Knowledge is power. Community is power. Solidarity is power.

Download the toolkit now

7 December 2021: Hansard – in Parliament, regarding removal of citizenship – Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)

I was proud to add my name to new clause 8, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Bell Ribeiro-Addy), on the abolition of the excessive fees that children are being charged, and I hope that the Government accept it. Overall, this Bill is deeply flawed, driven by ideology and destined to have lasting catastrophic consequences. If it is intended to make our system of citizenship and asylum fairer and more humane, it does the opposite. If it is intended to smash the evil gangs who trade in human lives, it does the opposite. If it is intended to end the heart-rending tragedy of people dying in the icy waters of the English channel, it does the opposite. If it is intended to make our borders secure and make us safer, it does the exact opposite. Yet the Government plough on with their hostile environment, without thought for the devastating impact it may have.

Ministers have been warned by experts and academics that the Bill undermines the UK’s commitment to the 1951 Geneva refugee convention and much more besides. Given the weight of evidence against the Government’s approach, one might wonder why they persist. Why, indeed? The removal of ethnic minorities from these islands has been a long-standing fascist demand. On the streets where I grew up, it was translated into something more straightforward and visceral. Chalked up on walls or shouted through letterboxes was, “Send them back.” Now this Government are hanging the sword of Damocles over our head. If someone does something wrong, or something perceived to be wrong by the nation of their ancestral heritage, they could be stripped of their citizenship and ordered to “go back home.” This right-wing rhetoric has returned in the Nationality and Borders Bill that is in front of the House this afternoon.

Let us be blunt, Mr Deputy Speaker: the Bill will not affect your good self, because of the colour of your skin, but it will impact people like me, because of the colour of our skin and our ancestral heritage. What is even more galling is that the Prime Minister is getting someone with brown skin to do his dirty work with a Bill that could have disastrous consequences for black and brown people. No wonder there are accusations of tokenism from within the Asian, African and Caribbean British communities. What is the point of having black and brown people as Cabinet Ministers sitting on the Conservative Front Bench if they are going to directly act against the interests of black and brown people, just so that they can hold ministerial office?Toggle showing location ofColumn 253

When the military Government of Myanmar disempowered ethnic groups by removing their citizenship, many of us shuddered with horror, but people are now frightened that the Home Secretary can remove their citizenship at a stroke, retrospectively and without any notice.

Read more here:

6 December 2021: via SNN signatory organisation Migrants Organise:

🚨 Resist the Borders Bill! 🚨
This week, the Nationality & Borders Bill – aka the #AntiRefugee Bill – returns to Parliament for debate and vote. Join us outside Parliament on Tuesday 7 December at 1pm to make clear that we stand against the cruelty, hostility and racism of the immigration system and say ⛔NO TO THE BORDERS BILL⛔. #StopNABB #KillTheBordersBill #SolidarityKnowsNoBorders

📍 Where: Milicent Fawcett Statue, Parliament Square, London –
📆 When: Tuesday 7 December
⏰ Time: 1 – 2pm
🎒 Bring: Banners & placards, warm clothes, a mask
💻 Can’t join in person?: Then join us for a Twitterstorm online, from 11am – 2pm on Tuesday! Check out these Tweet templates and make sure you tag your MP telling them to vote DOWN the Borders Bill:

The Borders Bill…
❌ discriminates against people seeking asylum depending on how they travel to Britain
❌ criminalises people seeking asylum under the guise of going after smugglers and further shuts down routes to safety
❌ opens the doors to offshore detention and inhumane immigration camps
❌ grants the Govt the power to revoke people’s British citizenship without notice – which will bear particularly on marginalised and racialised communities
❌ opens the door for more private contractors to profit from the already unaffordable and brutal immigration system
❌ will lead to more encampment, criminalisation, deportation and destitution

Together we will make clear that we oppose the Borders Bill, and know that we will have to continue to organise against racist immigration controls wherever we are. #SolidarityKnowsNoBorders

1 December 2021: Yahoo news: Scottish charities sign letter to PM calling for humanitarian visas for migrants

A group of Scottish charities have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary calling for humanitarian visas and safe routes to sanctuary, as the Nationality and Borders Bill enters its final Commons stage.

More than 80 representatives of civil society across the UK, including refugee and homelessness organisations, lawyers, social housing providers, trade unions, teaching unions, educational institutions and faith communities are signatories to the letter.

Scottish organisations and individuals include Positive Action in Housing, the Scottish Refugee Council, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, St Mungos, Unison Scotland, Edinburgh Poverty Commission, the Iona Community Migration Network and PATH (Scotland).

They are expressing serious concerns about the way the Government is handling its responsibilities under the International Refugee Convention of 1951, and how it is responding to last week’s sinking in the English Channel, when at least 27 people drowned while trying to cross to Dover.

Robina Qureshi, director of Glasgow charity Positive Action in Housing, which is dedicated to supporting refugees and migrants to rebuild their lives, said: “Mourning the dead has not stopped the UK Government from planning to break with the Refugee Convention.

“The Nationality and Borders Bill seeks to criminalise those who survive the peril of the seas and those at Dover who try to help them, and is in danger of wreaking murderous consequences for the relatively few who seek sanctuary here.

“This anti-refugee Bill does nothing to increase safe routes.

“With limited resettlement options, dangerous crossings are the only route for most people claiming asylum in the UK.

“Further, there is no evidence to support the Government’s claims that the changes proposed in the Bill will undermine smuggling networks.

“The facts are that 90% of the world’s refugees remain in their own region.

“Europe does not take its fair share of the world’s refugees, and nor does the UK.

“We are not the preferred destination in Europe. We are well down on the list.

“Furthermore, overall UK refugee numbers are currently half of where they were 20 years ago.

“The reason that boat numbers are up is that people are being driven more and more to these dangerous sea crossings.

“Our failure to provide a safe route makes us complicit with the people smugglers.

“They may make a profit, but our failure to intervene has led to innocent people drowning.”

24 November 2021: Independent: Lord Chief Justice defends lawyers after Priti Patel attacks

Country’s most senior judge says ‘everyone is entitled’ to representation after home secretary’s comments on asylum appeals

The country’s most senior judge has defended lawyers and said “everyone is entitled” to representation after the home secretary renewed her attacks on the legal profession.

Responding to the Liverpool bombing last week, Priti Patel said a “professional legal services industry” was exploiting a “merry-go-round” of asylum appeals and “defending individuals that cause the most appalling crimes against British citizens”.

The home secretary has railed against what she calls “activist lawyers” since last year, including in a tweet posted days before a man allegedly attempted a far-right terror attack targeting a law firm involved in deportation cases.

Read more:

Updated 23 October 2021: Manchester demonstration: see here for live video of this event: and

Updated 20 October 2021: Refugees Welcome demonstrations/rallies today

in Parliament Square, London: See today’s livestream video on the StatusNow Facebook page here:

Migrant Voice  @MigrantVoiceUK tweeted: Mariam Yusuf (@mariamyusuf17) an asylum seeker and colleague from @Statusnow4all network, says “the system is already hard and it’s going to become harder”.


Our partner organisation @kanlunganuk is here to stand with refugees and all migrants in the UK. They say the #AntiRefugeeBill is yet another instance of the government cracking down on migrant rights under the hostile environment. #RefugeesWelcome@RefugeeTogether

We are down in Parliament Square supporting the #RefugeesWelcome rally! The Government’s #AntiRefugeeBill will have a devastating impact on people seeking asylum. It must scrap these draconian plans. @RefugeeTogether from Parliament Square

Kanlungan Filipino Consortium@kanlunganuk tweeted: We are here in Parliament Square alongside @SwR_UK@refugeecouncil@safepassageuk@JCWI_UK@Statusnow4all@MigrantVoiceUK@migrantsorg to say #RefugeesWelcome!

Great turn out today in Parliament Square for #RefugeesWelcome brilliant speakers and organisations present. Solidarity!

Follow the links above for many more reports from today in London

Also in Coventry

Event: Solidarity with Refugees, Women for Refugee Women and others: Refugees Welcome on Wednesday 20 October 2021 16:30-18:30 in Parliament Square, London, SW1P 3, United Kingdom.

“Join the Refugees Welcome rally on Wednesday 20 October to defend the right to asylum and to fight the government’s #AntiRefugee bill. Now more than ever, we must speak up to say #RefugeesWelcome!🕞 4:30-6:30📍 Parliament Square, London”

For more information click here

The rally is being organised by people with experience of the asylum system with support from Solidarity With Refugees, Women for Refugee Women and IMIX, but we want it to belong to us all.

For more details on the Nationality and Borders Bill, this from the JCWI is excellent:

Updated 15 October 2021: Guardian: Priti Patel threatening to use X-rays to verify asylum seekers’ ages

Nationality and borders bill would allow for ‘scientific’ measuring of bones or taking of DNA samples

Priti Patel is threatening to X-ray migrants suspected of lying about their age and impose visa penalties on countries that do not cooperate with deportations of their own citizens, under newly announced plans.

[…] But previous proposals to use dental X-rays to verify the age of migrants have provoked an outcry from doctors and dentists who say they are inaccurate and that it is unethical to take radiographs of people without a health benefit.

Read more:

Updated 12 October 2021: Guardian: Priti Patel’s borders bill ‘breaches international and domestic law’

Lawyers’ report says bill will lead to multiple challenges under international human rights

Priti Patel’s controversial new borders bill breaches international and domestic law in at least 10 different ways, a report from a team of leading immigration lawyers has concluded.

Four barristers led by the human rights QC Raza Husain claim that the nationality and borders bill, which is moving through parliament, will lead to challenges under international human rights and refugee treaties.

Following 95 pages of legal opinion commissioned by the human rights group Freedom From Torture, they conclude: “This bill represents the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK.

“The principle at the heart of the bill is the penalisation, both criminally and administratively, of those who arrive by irregular means in the UK to claim asylum and the bill seeks to reverse a number of important decisions of the UK courts, including at the House of Lords and court of appeal level, given over the last 20 years.”

The legal opinion draws up battle lines between the government and human rights lawyers that are likely to be tested in courts if, as expected, the bill passes through parliament and becomes law in the spring.

Read more:

Updated 8 October 2021: (thanks to No Deportations) Crimes of Arrival in the Nationality and Borders Bill

The Nationality and Borders Bill further criminalises people coming to the UK to seek asylum. It does so by switching the emphasis from ‘entering’ the UK to ‘arriving’ in the UK. The difference is significant. Together with a combination of other powers, it means that people can be stopped from crossing the English Channel in small boats and turned away for criminal behaviour. If by luck they land on the English coastline, they can be prosecuted. But many such people will be asylum seekers, with a right to come to the UK and seek asylum. The proposal ignores the provision of the Refugee Convention (Article 31) that prohibits penalties being imposed on Refugees who enter or are present in a country without authorisation. The result is incompatible with UK international commitments.

Crimes of Arrival: The Nationality and Bill makes several important changes to immigration-related criminal offences. First, it introduces a new provision so that a person who requires entry clearance (such as a visa) under the Immigration Rules and who knowingly arrives in the United Kingdom without a valid entry clearance will commit an offence (clause 37 of the Bill amending section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971). This expands the power to prosecute a person. Currently, immigration offences focus ion ‘entry’ to the UK.  But ‘entry’ has a special meaning and presenting yourself on arrival or subsequent temporary admission to the UK does not count as ‘entry’. Further, in reshaping this offence, the Bill makes no provision for a defence under Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.

Read more: Adrian Berry, Cosmopolis,

UNHCR Observations on the Nationality and Borders Bill,

  1. The Nationality and Borders Bill1 follows almost to the letter the Government’s New Plan
    for Immigration Policy Statement,2 issued on 24 March 2021, in some cases adding
    further restrictions on the right to claim asylum and on the rights of refugees. UNHCR
    must therefore regretfully reiterate its considered view that the Bill is fundamentally at
    odds with the Government’s avowed commitment to upholding the United Kingdom’s
    international obligations under the Refugee Convention3 and with the country’s longstanding role as a global champion for the refugee cause.
  2. We set out below our main areas of concern, reflecting our supervisory role with regard
    to the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol (together, “the Refugee Convention”).4
    Due to the length and complexity of the Bill, it has not been possible to respond to all of
    its clauses in the limited time available. Our lack of comment on any particular clause of
    the Bill should not be construed as expressing tacit endorsement of it.
  3. Read more:

From European Network on Statelessness:

As many of you know, recently, ENS provided evidence to Parliament on the Nationality & Borders Bill, focusing on Part 1, Clause 9 that concerns stateless minors. A recording of the evidence session is available here

We have serious concerns that the changes proposed in Clause 9 of the NBB will lead to an increase in childhood statelessness in the UK, unnecessarily leaving more children in limbo and exposed to the detrimental impacts of growing up without a nationality. We therefore submitted that Clause 9 should be dropped.

In addition, we and the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) and Amnesty International UK, provided a submission to the JCHR Public Bill Committee (you can find a copy here Joint submission to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee

Updated 23 September 2021: [Thanks No Deportations – Residence Papers for All] IAS: Home Office Admits That Their Immigration Plan Might Not Work

The Home Office has admitted that there is “limited evidence” to suggest that its new plans for the immigration system will reduce the number of migrant Channel crossings. The Home Secretary has made promises to reduce the number of immigrants crossing the English Channel as part of the New Plan for Immigration which she hopes to introduce under the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently under review in parliament. But in an impact equality assessment recently released by the Home Office stated that the reforms to the immigration and asylum system carry “significant scope for indirect discrimination” and “potential for direct discrimination on the basis of race”.

Home Office’s Justification: As part of the impact assessment the Home Office responded to the concerns of human rights organisations and admitted that there “may be circumstances where someone faces immediate danger in their country of origin but is not eligible for our refugee resettlement programmes”. In these circumstances the department said that the Home Secretary “may consider such cases, by virtue of their challenging circumstances, to merit the use of discretion to allow individuals to come to the UK”, however it did not make it clear how this would be done.

Read more: Immigration Advisory Service,

UNHCR: UK asylum bill would break international law, damaging refugees and global co-operation

LONDON – As it stands, the UK Nationality and Borders Bill would penalise most refugees seeking asylum in the country via damaging and unjustified penalties, creating an asylum model that undermines established international refugee protection rules and practices, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said Wednesday.

At the heart of the Bill is the creation of a new, lower class of status to be assigned to the majority refugees – those arriving spontaneously. The Bill would make it a criminal offence for an asylum-seeker who requires entry clearance to arrive in the UK without it; the maximum sentence would be four years’ imprisonment.

“Those arriving irregularly will be stigmatised as unworthy and unwelcome, kept in a precarious status for ten years, denied access to public funds unless destitute. Family reunion will be restricted,” said Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR’s UK Representative. “This is likely to damage mental health and hamper integration for those recognised as refugees. The costs – financial, personal and social — will be high.”

As the Bill moves through Committee stage in the House of Commons, UNHCR urged lawmakers to re-assess parts that would create an unfair two-tier asylum system and cause unnecessary suffering to asylum-seekers. For most asylum-seekers, attempts to transfer to other safe third countries would be made. If that is impossible, access to asylum would be provided but with temporary status, regularly reviewed, with fewer rights and benefits and a constant threat of removal. A minority of refugees – primarily those being resettled – would have more security, and stronger rights and entitlements.

Ms. Pagliuchi-Lor will address the House of Commons Bill Committee on Thursday, outlining a UNHCR legal analysis of the Bill, a summary of which can be seen here.

“This Bill would undermine, not promote, the Government’s stated goal of improving protection for those at risk of persecution. It seems to be aimed at deterring refugees, but there’s no evidence that would be the result,” said Ms. Pagliuchi-Lor. “There’s scope for improving the efficiency of the asylum system. We want to support the UK with that and are heartened that the Home Office is working on it.”

The Bill is based on the premise that people should claim asylum in the “first safe country” they arrive in. But this principle is not found in the 1951 Refugee Convention and there is no such requirement under international law, where primary responsibility for protecting refugees is with the State in which an asylum-seeker arrives.

Requiring all refugees to claim in the first safe country reached would be unworkable and undermine global humanitarian and cooperative principles. Of the world’s 34.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers, 86% are in less wealthy countries. The policy would put even more pressure on such countries and undermine solutions. It might also encourage further refugee movements.

“There are no quick fixes to what is a global problem,” she added. “The humane solution lies in working with neighbours on refugee transfers — and with countries of origin on returns of those who are not refugees and have no right to remain – and improving the UK system.”

“This differentiation of treatment has no basis in international law,” Ms. Pagliuchi-Lor added. “The Convention’s definition of a refugee doesn’t vary according to the route of travel, choice of country of asylum, or the timing of a claim. Are we saying that an Afghan refugee is less deserving in the UK than when in Iran or Pakistan?”

Read more:

Updated 21 September 2021: Statewatch: UK: Biometric ‘permission to travel’ scheme in Borders Bill will affect tens of millions of people

The attack on the asylum system proposed by the UK government in the Nationality and Borders Bill has provoked outrage. However, the Bill also includes proposals to introduce an electronic ‘permission to travel’ scheme that would involve gathering biometric and other data from tens of millions of people. The UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is conducting legislative scrutiny on the Bill; Statewatch submitted written observations to the inquiry last week. […]

[extract] Obligations to protect refugees and the prohibition on refoulement (the 1951 Refugee Convention)

The introduction of an ETA may create a barrier to those needing to flee countries owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Denial of an ETA to an individual needing to flee a country would compel them to undertake a more dangerous route, for example, by using the services of people smugglers.

The data-sharing involved in the travel authorisation system may in itself put a person at risk. Many such schemes involve cross-checking applicants’ data with Interpol’s databases on travel documents, which have been misused by states seeking to persecute their citizens abroad.


The submission highlights that the Bill would create a situation in which decision making on arrivals to the UK will be made by the same body, the Home Office, as the one establishing safeguards on the processing of biometric and personal data. This does not provide sufficient independence and risks jeopardising rights to freedom from discrimination and to a private and family life, and is therefore not compliant Articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR.

The submission argues that the Home Office cannot and should not be trusted with the sensitive personal data of tens of millions of people who do not currently require any form of travel authorisation to travel to the UK. At a very minimum, MPs must demand proper legislative scrutiny over the proposed system in order to ensure that safeguards, checks and balances are properly accounted for in order to ensure that human rights are fully respected and that it is compliant with the ECHR.

Further reading

Updated 2 September 2021: Evening Standard: Public’s ‘positive’ response to Afghan refugees impresses UK charities

Reminder that when you get past the fear-mongering, scapegoating & misinformation, there’s a wealth of goodwill, energy & capacity for welcoming people & respecting their human rights & dignity. How sad some prefer to stir former rather than tap latter.” – Steve Valdez-Symonds

Updated 27 August 2021: from signatory organisation Migrant Voice: Channel crossings: time to change course

It’s time to change course. The ill-thought-out strategy of trying to deter asylum seekers from crossing the Channel, pursued by this and previous governments over the past many years, doesn’t work. 

The many restrictions introduced – measures to try to deter asylum seekers from reaching the UK at any cost – are fundamentally wrong and merely add further risk to already dangerous journeys.

The new Nationality and Borders Bill which sets out to indefinitely penalise those who make their own journey to the UK is a continuation of this misdirected strategy. The recent revelation of a website set up by the Home Office giving misleading information to asylum seekers is another evidence of their negligent approach to human lives.

The government needs to change course and stop patrolling the sea in an attempt to deter desperate people and instead set up facilities to help people apply for asylum and provide more legal routes.

It is time to adopt a policy that takes into consideration the events in our world today whether political repression or environmental disaster and the reality of the situations from which people are fleeing. 

UK and Europe are going about this the wrong way: we cannot go on building walls in the face of desperate people.

You don’t resolve any of these issues by building walls. If people in danger are at your door, you should treat them like the human beings they are and give them sanctuary. We can’t pretend any more that the countries we are deporting people back to are safe when they aren’t.

Throughout history people have moved from place to place in search of safety. This isn’t just happening in the UK or Europe – in fact it’s not happening very much in UK or Europe as most people flee to neighbouring countries and the vast majority are in the global south.

It’s time to change course and welcome those in need of safety.

Updated 24 August 2021: Refugee Action – Crisis in Afghanistan – the anti-refugee bill must be thrown out

It is difficult to imagine how many people’s lives are now at risk as a result of the Taliban swiftly regaining control of Afghanistan. There are reports of violent reprisals, a return to the appalling subjugation of women and well-founded fears of worse to come.

Thousands of people have tried to escape on flights out of the country and millions more are terrified. Our thoughts and hopes are with them. But in a situation unfolding so quickly, we can waste no time in turning from thoughts to concrete action.

The Government has announced the new ‘Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme’ which aims to resettle 5,000 people from Afghanistan in its first year – 20,000 in the longer term.

However, this commitment cannot act as a mask to hide the Government’s real intentions to effectively end the asylum system through its anti-refugee bill (Nationality and Borders Bill).

Read more:

Forbes – Thousands Of Refugees Could Be Turned Away Under UK’s New Borders Bill, Advocates Warn

The UK’s new Nationality and Borders Bill being introduced in Parliament on Tuesday will see thousands more refugees blocked from entering Britain if allowed to move forward, immigration advocates have warned.

Under the new bill, people confirmed to have fled war or persecution would face strengthened checks that could see them blocked from entering the UK based on how they arrived in the country.

Read more:

Sky News (via Yahoo News) – Activist brands new govt bill ‘anti-refugee’

Bridget Chapman of Kent Refugee Action Network has branded Priti Patel’s new Nationality and Borders Bill an “anti-refugee bill”.

Watch video:

Updated 20 August 2021: with thanks to signatory John O: Afghan Asylum Seekers Who Enter UK Without Permission Would be Criminalised Under Nationality and Borders Bill

A new Home Office factsheet on resettlement routes for Afghan nationals published today on the Home Office media blog has given some further details about the new Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme. The scheme was announced by the Government in response to the Taliban taking effective control of Kabul and most of Afghanistan.

Notably, the factsheet suggests that the Nationality and Borders Bill’s proposals to criminalise people who knowingly enter the UK without permission to seek asylum would also apply to Afghans fleeing the current crisis.

Today’s Home Office factsheet confirms, however, that the Nationality and Borders Bill will make it a criminal offence to knowingly enter the UK without permission, and there is no suggestion of any exception being made for Afghans fleeing the current crisis to seek asylum.

Read more: Electronic Immigratin Network,

UK Proposal for Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers, Ineffective, Costly and Cruel
With the British government’s new Nationality and Borders Bill proposing legislation to allow the UK to offshore asylum seekers in a similar way, the Kaldor Centre’s report is a timely and important read. The report finds that the Australian model of offshore processing is cruel, costly and ineffective. In particular, the policy:

– Does not deter irregular maritime migration, ‘stop the boats’ or ‘break the business model’ of people smuggling networks;

– Does not ‘save lives at sea’ or achieve any other humanitarian objective; and

– Suffers from other policy failures, including enormous financial costs for Australian taxpayers, violations of fundamental rules of international law, numerous legal challenges and systemic cruelty.

Kaldor Centre stresses that the Australian offshore processing model cannot be implemented in accordance with international law and basic human rights standards. As the driving principle behind the policy is deterrence, this means that the conditions offshore must be as bad as, or worse than, those from which people have fled.

Read more: Electronic Immigration Network,

Now Then: Sheffield City Council condemns government plans for immigration reform

The New Plan for Immigration will not “fix the broken asylum system” says Council.

In July, Sheffield City Council wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary and the Home Office urging them to rethink their immigration reform plans in the Nationality and Borders Bill.

These are reforms that will limit ‘official’ routes into the UK, rewarding those that use the ‘legal’ routes, and criminalising anyone who enters the country via an ‘illegal’ route. It’s a bill that is effectively creating a two-tier system in the asylum process. The bill also includes plans to ‘streamline’ asylum claims and appeals by introducing a one-stop process, where migrants would have to raise any and all protection-related issues in the initial assessment, and a ‘good faith’ requirement, which would require migrants to “act in good faith at all times”.

The letter sent by the Council on 23 July outlines how this new Bill will make the work of local authorities that much harder when it comes to helping some of the most vulnerable in society. The Council states that this New Plan for Immigration will not “fix the broken asylum system”, if anything the plan is “likely to worsen the current position, not just for those seeking asylum in the UK, but also for the UK as a host nation and its citizens”.

The Council also mentioned how the creation of a two-tier system of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants will not deter those seeking sanctuary in the UK, “it will simply make their route to safety even more treacherous.” It adds that the problem in the current immigration system doesn’t lie with migrants, but with the process itself.

The need for reform in the system is not due to the number of ‘illegal’ migrants coming to the UK, but due to a “lengthy and complicated process” that leaves many migrants in a state of limbo for long periods of time. And whilst migrants are awaiting their asylum decision from the Home Office, they are unable to work, which then means they have little money to access many key public services, such as housing.

Read more here:

Updated 11 August 2021: Peaceful demonstration: Scottish government Act – Stand against the New Immigration Bill 2 September 2021

This demonstration that was to take place on 17th August has been rescheduled for 6.30pm on 21 September 2021.

Updated 27 July 2021: Evening Standard: Majority opposed to asylum reforms, according to Government consultation

It has been dubbed the anti-refugee Bill by campaigners critical of the plans.

The majority of people who took part in the Government’s consultation on sweeping asylum reforms opposed “many of the policies”, according to the Home Office

Around three quarters of those who took part in the survey on Home Secretary Priti Patel’s new plan for immigration disagreed with a lot of the ideas.

But the process showed there is “some support for these broad ambitions, more so from members of the public”, according to her department.

Ms Patel’s pledge for a “fair but firm” system, brought forward earlier this month under the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, intends to make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, with tougher sentences for those found doing so and for people smugglers.

Read more here:

Updated 20 July 2021: This lays out Priti Patel’s view of what should come, as the debate on the Bill begins in Parliament:

This was the debate in Parliament:

You can follow the passage of this Bill here:

See also this post:

Updated 19 July 2021: Migrant Voice/Amnesty: Shutting down the UK asylum system: the new immigration bill

Migrant Voice and Amnesty International have released a joint briefing for MPs for the second reading of the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill on 19 July.

The vast majority of this Bill seems to have the purpose of shutting down the asylum system. We therefore strongly oppose most of this Bill, which will undermine the human rights of people affected by our immigration laws. The only element of the Bill we support is Part 1, which seeks to dismantle historical inequalities which have deprived some people of the British nationality that ought to be theirs.

If the Bill is passed in its present form, it will have a devastating impact on people seeking asylum. It will renege on this country’s international law commitments and significantly reduce the already modest contribution made by the UK to provide a place of safety to people forced to flee conflict and persecution.  

Its harmful impacts will go much further in at least 3 ways:                                                                                                

  • By repudiating its international obligations the UK will provide license and encouragement for others to do the same.
  • What is proposed will add complexity, delay, inequality, dysfunction and cost to the asylum system and to the wider immigration system.
  • Far from truly tackling the scourge of human exploitation, including by organised crime, the Bill will further empower and enable abusers by rendering the women, men and children on whom they prey ever more vulnerable to that predation.

The second reading of the Bill comes as we prepare to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention on 28 July. This Convention set out a shared responsibility for the nations who are party to it, including the UK, to ensure that the right to seek asylum is available to everyone fleeing conflict or persecution. 

This Bill completely undermines the UK’s obligations under the Convention in two interlinked ways.

Firstly, the Bill attempts to unilaterally redraw what are jointly agreed and universally applicable human rights standards affecting both whom the Convention applies to and how such a person is to be treated. This is wrong in principle. If enacted, it is an open invitation to other nations to set their own interpretations of not only this Convention but of international agreements more generally. 

Secondly, the Bill penalises refugees who exercise their right to seek asylum in the UK through travelling here on their own. This disadvantages some refugees from others by diminishing, delaying or denying them altogether certain of the rights and opportunities that are provided to others. 

The aim of this Bill is to end asylum as we know it. This is despite the UK already receiving relatively few people seeking asylum, and providing sanctuary to very few refugees, compared to its nearest neighbours – let alone several far poorer and less stable countries further afield. 

The impact of this legislation will be horrific. Many people will be forced to take significantly more dangerous journeys and fall victim to punishing uncertainty and extreme vulnerability to exploitation. This is to nobody’s advantage but that of those who will abuse, exploit and enslave women, men and children who are too afraid to claim asylum. 

You can read Migrant Voice and Amnesty International’s joint briefing by clicking here

Bella Caledonia: How the No Evictions Network is fighting the Nationality and Borders Bill

Standing on the steps of Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Lana, who first arrived in Scotland as an asylum seeker, said: “if someone is not desperate, why on earth would they ever risk their three-year-old child’s life in the ocean? We left our country because there were no human rights, and after taking so much risk and arriving here, now this Bill will again take our human rights away from us”.

Last Saturday, she was one of the speakers at a protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill organised by the No Evictions Network in Glasgow.

The No Evictions Network has been central to vital community organising, especially over the past few months. From campaigning for asylum seekers’ housing rights to playing a crucial role in resisting the deportation of two locals at Kenmure Street in May, the Network’s activity reflects the kind of Scotland many residents hope is in our future. Most recently, they have been working to fight Priti Patel’s proposed new “Nationality and Borders Bill” that would impose draconian immigration rules.

The Nationality and Borders Bill (see here for an explainer by Minni Rahman for gal-dem), which will receive its second reading in the house of Commons on Monday 19th July, has received heavy criticism from activists for its criminalisation of refugees and asylum seekers. No Evictions highlight that “The UK signed up to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which gives a strong legal basis to claim asylum” — a commitment that this bill fails to uphold.

Read more:

17 July 2021: Equal Society Movement@SocietyEqual

We are new Scots.

We are not illegal

#newsscotsarewelcome here!

That’s what Glasgow said today!

Watch here:

Updated 13 July 2021: StatusNow4All signatory Migrants Organise writes: Radical solidarity is the only answer to the new hostile environment immigration bill

If the latest Immigration Bill is leaving you with a sense of déjà vu- do not worry- you are not alone. This is all in the government’s plan for chaos and confusion.

[…] Three things you can do now: 

  1. Write to your MP before the second reading of the Bill on the 19th July. Speak from the heart and share your concerns about this hostile bill and your demands for a better system. Use this as a chance to organise and build relationships with your MPs and allies.
  2. Sign and share the Fair Immigration Charter – use your social media channels or talk to your friends – spread the word about unity, solidarity and better vision for the future.
  3. Get involved, join actions and organise – check out upcoming Abolish Reporting actions on 15 JulyStay in touch and organise locally and nationally, and join our regular monthly organising meetings.

In solidarity, 

Zrinka Bralo and Migrants Organise team 

Read the whole post here:

Updated 12 July 2021: Independent: Home Office forced to pay out £9.3m in compensation for over 300 cases of unlawful detention last year

Department spent £25,500 a day on people wrongly detained

The Home Office was forced to pay out a record in compensation for wrongful detention under immigration powers last year.

Payouts amounting to £9.3m were made to 330 people – roughly £25,500 a day in the 12 months to April 5.

Read more:

Updated 11 July 2021: Guardian: Home Office ‘acting unlawfully’ in rush to deport asylum seekers

Hundreds of people arriving in England in small boats are being immediately detained in immigration removal centres, raising fears of a new, secret Home Office policy to deport them without their asylum claims being properly considered.

Among the detainees are apparent trafficking and torture victims from countries including Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, who would normally be allowed asylum accommodation in the community while their claims are processed but instead are effectively imprisoned.

Children are also among those who have crossed the Channel and have been sent directly to immigration removal centres, with solicitors claiming the Home Office has classed minors as adults despite not age-assessing them in person.

Some small-boat asylum seekers have been denied access to a lawyer since early May after landing and being immediately detained in a removal centre.

Campaigners said the development was “not the act of a civilised and compassionate nation”.

The outcry follows the publication of home secretary Priti Patel’s nationality and borders bill on Tuesday. It claims to reform the asylum system but has been described by the UN as having an “almost neocolonial approach” in allowing the UK to shirk its international responsibilities to refugees.

Immigration lawyers say the apparent undisclosed policy change, which appears to have been introduced over the past two months, is unlawful and they are preparing to challenge it.

Toufique Hossain, director of public law and immigration at Duncan Lewis, described it as a potentially “grave abuse of power”.

Read more here:

Updated 10 July 2021: The Times: CPS blows hole in Priti Patel’s asylum seeker bill

Priti Patel’s laws to crack down on asylum seekers crossing the Channel were dealt a blow yesterday when the Crown Prosecution Service said that it would no longer prosecute migrants.

An agreement struck between police, prosecutors, the National Crime Agency, Border Force and the Home Office over cases involving “illegal entry” will also apply to those arriving by lorry.

Read more:

Updated 9 July 2021: from signatory organisation Positive Action in Housing:

On Monday, the Home Office published the Nationality and Borders Bill. Its central aim is to criminalise anyone arriving in the UK to claim asylum through “irregular routes” – for instance on a dinghy or the back of a lorry.  Most asylum seekers do not come to Europe, and those that do want to come here, do so because of language familiarity or for existing support networks such as family members. 

With this Bill, the UK is torching its international human rights obligations under the 1951 refugee convention. We are in danger of committing crimes against humanity by turning back those in need of safety and treating them as criminals.

Human beings will be judged by how they entered the UK, rather than the dangers they face from countries they fled.

Patel’s anti refugee bill

With the “new borders bill” the UK is torching its international human rights obligations under the 1951 refugee convention. We are in danger of committing crimes against humanity by turning back those in need of safety and treating them as criminals. History will shame us.

Human beings will be judged by how they entered the UK, rather than the dangers they face from countries they fled.

The plans for the removal of asylum seekers to off shore asylum processing centres in the Ascension islands, disused ferries and abandoned oil rigs will mean men, women and children being left in limbo for years, out of sight and out of mind.

Any human rights abuses committed against genuine refugees will be hidden from public scrutiny; more will self-harm or attempt suicide as they are detained long term; and many more refugees will drown on British shores trying to get here.

The human smugglers only “flourish” because Europe is blocking centuries old migration routes and making crossings ever more dangerous. Harsher sentences will not stop human smuggling, the provision of safe routes will.

This bill means that 9,000 people who would be accepted as refugees under current rules – those confirmed to have fled war or persecution by official checks – may no longer be given safety in the UK due to their method of arrival. For decades people have taken “extraordinary measures to flee oppression but went on to become law-abiding citizens paying their taxes.

The broken asylum system has nothing to do with asylum seekers and everything to do with years of neglect by Ministers of Home Office systems and processes.

This in turn has led to delays for months and years for those seeking asylum from countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, all countries with known records of human rights abuses and persecution.

The Home Office contractors bidding to run these offshore processing centres will be rubbing their hands in glee at the billions coming their way.

Of course, the UK doesn’t actually have a refugee “problem” – the numbers coming in each year are low (one third of the numbers in 2003) and falling – not rising. And most of the “migrants” who “knowingly” arrive in the U.K. “without permission” are genuine refugees according to the Home Office’s own statistics.

While many people seeking asylum arrive by plane, focusing on asylum seekers entering the UK by boat is misleading. Further, portraying them as shore invaders is manipulation meant to make people perceive all foreigners as threats, and prepare for the abandonment of basic principles that the UK so proudly called its contribution to the world.

Refugees are the mere scapegoat for Patel’s political ambitions. The Home Secretary wants to look “tough” on “migrants”.

In essence the new Borders Bill is an anti refugee bill that will cause misery to thousands of people and pointless billions to administer . This will be Priti Patel’s toxic legacy as home secretary, herself the child of immigrants: the further embedding of a racist, hostile, xenophobic environment into British society.

Robina Qureshi

7 July 2021: Westminster Hall debate: Debate: Delays in the asylum system

Navendu Mishra (Stockport) (Lab)

I beg to move,

That this House has considered delays in the asylum system.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mr Mundell. I thank the many Members attending the debate for their ongoing efforts to push the Government to address the delays in the asylum system. It is shocking that not a single Conservative Member thought it necessary to take part in a debate on such an important issue.

I pay tribute to the many organisations and charities that campaign tirelessly to raise awareness of the issue, as well as those—including the Refugee Council, Detention Action, the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, and Lift the Ban, to name just a few—that provide vital support to some of the most vulnerable people on our planet. So many people are worthy of recognition for their incredible work, such as Councillor Wilson Nkurunziza, Councillor Irfan Syed and Stockport’s own Mrs Sandy Broadhurst. There are also those who do so much at national level to keep the issue at the forefront of everyone’s minds, such as Lord Alf Dubs.

In my region, Refugee Action Manchester and the Refugee Council provide life-saving and life-changing support to asylum seekers, while Stockport Baptist church in my constituency has done so much over the years to help to raise funds to provide accommodation, food, pocket money and transport to those in need. I am grateful to the volunteers from the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, who support the incredibly vulnerable people who are subject to immigration control. Significantly, they have worked with local authorities across Greater Manchester, and seven of the 10 councils have signed up to remote asylum interviewing for looked-after children: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Wigan.

Our country has a proud history of standing up for and protecting refugees, who are among the most vulnerable people on earth, having undertaken perilous journeys to reach our shores to seek sanctuary from the very worst of humanity. We are the fifth richest country in the world and that is absolutely the right thing to do. It is also right that our country provides shelter to people—not excluding them, but enabling them to earn a living to support themselves and their family.

I am proud that my part of the world, the north-west, is the largest asylum dispersal conurbation in the UK, housing 25% of our country’s applicants, with 70% of those living in Greater Manchester. Data provided by the House of Commons Library reveals that 138 asylum seekers are based in Stockport and more than 6,000 in Greater Manchester as a whole, which is two thirds of the total in the north-west region. It is heart-warming to see how my community has embraced those people and helped them to integrate into our community. I have long been an admirer of the work of Stockport Baptist church, whose congregation and supporters have raised funds to support refugees with food, pocket money, accommodation and transport costs.

It cannot be right, however, that so many are simply stuck in the system for long periods, unsure of what their fate will be. Detention Action revealed that more than half of the almost 40,000 people in detention centres have been waiting for a decision for more than a year. A similar number have been waiting for up to five years, with almost 25,000 people indefinitely detained last year.

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid provides urgent assistance to more than 50 young people who have been waiting the best part of a year for an asylum decision, despite half already having had a remote interview. Even when the asylum system is functioning marginally more efficiently, the average wait for those handled by my local unit is 51 days, with the longest wait being 82 days—almost three months. That is completely unacceptable, and it involves the livelihoods of some of the poorest people in our society, including young people.

It is vital that the Government look again at how those in the system are treated. One issue that must be addressed is the Aspen card handover debacle. I focus on that issue because it reflects many of the problems in the system. Aspen is a debit payment card given to UK asylum seekers by the Home Office to provide basic subsistence support via a chip-and-pin system. However, purchases made using the card are closely monitored by the Home Office, making it an insidious surveillance tool. Recently, the Home Office switched providers, which proved nothing short of disastrous owing to the 48-hour period between the old card being deactivated and the new one going live, forcing people to live off what little means they had.

That is just one of myriad problems, from claimants not receiving their cards to their receiving cards carrying the wrong name, cards without money on them or cards that do not work, or people being unable to activate their cards. When cards were not working, asylum seekers could apply for emergency cash payments from accommodation providers, but those have been inconsistently applied and people could not access any more payments. There are stories from the Refugee Council of such people having to survive for days without food.

That is an absolute disgrace, and it can never be allowed to happen again. Why was it even allowed to happen in the first place? Perhaps the Minister will answer that question today. However, well before the card changeover took place, multiple organisations forewarned the Home Office that there could be problems, and it is clear they were simply not listened to. When the matter was raised in Parliament, the Government attempted to give the impression that it was a minor issue, rather than one that had gone on for weeks. Their claims could not be further from the truth, with many asylum experts describing the Government’s handling of the issue as the worst failure they have seen in the system. That is why the likes of Asylum Matters are continuing to raise awareness of it—they want the Home Office not only to acknowledge its failings, but to learn from them so that we never again put the neediest people in society in this desperate situation.

There are also well documented and widespread concerns about the way women are dealt with in the asylum process, particularly whether that process is sensitive to specific issues faced by women. The expectation that a woman has been the victim of domestic abuse or rape, and will be able to disclose that during her interview with a UK visa and immigration caseworker, has been pointed to as a serious problem.

There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. We must acknowledge that these are incredibly vulnerable people in the most desperate of circumstances and act accordingly. That means shining a light on the failings of the system, rather than demonising those within it. Just last month, asylum seekers held at the Home Office’s widely criticised Napier military barracks claimed they would be blacklisted if they spoke out following the High Court ruling that to use the site was unlawful. That included them being told that their asylum application would be at risk if they talked to the media about conditions at the camp. Instead of attacking those in the barracks who are in conditions described as “squalid” during the successful legal challenge, the Government should have acted immediately to close the camp.

The failures in our system cause untold distress and are a considerable factor in the high levels of mental health problems among asylum seekers. Refugees are five times more likely to have mental health needs than people in the general UK population, while 61% report that they have suffered serious mental distress as a result of their ordeal, including higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.

The way the Government treat asylum seekers in this country—the fifth richest in the world—is truly shameful. That lack of humanity was exposed during the 2015 migrant crisis when our European counterparts, such as Germany, showed benevolence, true compassion and leadership by giving asylum to more than 1 million people fleeing war in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In stark contrast, the UK allowed a paltry 25,000 the safety and sanctuary of our shores.

I am sure Members on both sides of the House agree that on this issue language is important. Asylum seekers are people—fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and in a fair manner—and following a decade when we have experienced the hostile environment orchestrated by the Home Office under this Government, I urge the Minister to do the right thing and offer those people a route out of poverty and destitution.

We do not need more distressing words and scenes from the Home Secretary. Sadly, just yesterday, we bore witness to the Home Secretary’s latest demonisation of migrants, with her shamefully describing those vulnerable people as “vile criminals”, smearing the vast majority of honest, law-abiding citizens who seek sanctuary in our country. As HOPE not hate made clear in its response, the Home Secretary’s words were disgraceful.

The Home Secretary also set out callous plans with proposals revealed for new legislation that will pave the way for offshore centres for asylum seekers, and criminal charges for migrants arriving in the UK without permission. The new laws will likely see thousands of refugees turned away and vulnerable migrants criminalised for seeking a better life. Furthermore, a Refugee Council analysis of Home Office data suggests that 9,000 people who would be accepted as refugees under the current rules—those confirmed by official checks to have left war and persecution—might no longer be given safety in the UK because of how they arrived. That really would be an all-time low for this Government.

The Government must do more to enable those seeking asylum to have the right to work. Last year, the Lift the Ban campaign—a coalition of more than 240 charities and trade unions, including Unison, the National Education Union and the NASUWT, as well as businesses, faith groups and think-tanks—presented the Home Office with a petition signed by more than 180,000 people, which called on the Government to lift the ban. They are still waiting for that ban to be overturned, which is why I recently tabled an early-day motion, which has been signed by 42 MPs to date. It calls on the Government to

“recognise the injustice of preventing people seeking asylum from working”,

particularly when they are forced to live on a derisory £5.66 a day. After all, that is in the Government’s own interest: if those seeking asylum had the right to work, that would lead to fewer support payments and increased income tax and national insurance receipts of up to £100 million for the public purse.

The bottom line is that the pandemic has exposed the harsh reality that asylum seekers cannot be safe under such restrictive rules. Far from being looked after, they are forced to depend on tiny handouts each day and to choose between food, medicine and hygiene products, while being prevented from having the dignity of work.

The Government must do far more to address their unfair dispersal system. The majority of asylum seekers are housed in disadvantaged local authority areas while dozens of councils support none at all. Figures show that more than half of those who seek asylum or who have been brought to Britain for resettlement are accommodated by just 6% of local councils, all of which have household incomes that are below average.

Finally, the Government must heed the United Nations Human Rights Council proposal to reform the registration, screening and decision making process, including introducing an effective triaging and prioritisation system, as well as simplified asylum case processing and front-loading the asylum system to enable more information to be gathered earlier in the process.

It is time our Government stopped their gunboat diplomacy and treated asylum seekers with the dignity and humanity that they deserve. When most are fleeing war-torn countries that the UK helped to play a role in devastating, that is surely the very least we can do.

[…] read the full debate

Navendu Mishra  closing speech

I am incredibly grateful to all hon. Members who contributed to the debate and brought many powerful stories from constituency casework. I thank the Minister for his contribution, although I must highlight that he did not comment on the Aspen card disaster and people being left without food or hygiene products, or on my remarks on the special requirements for women asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse and rape. The one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work. Asylum seekers and refugees are five times more likely than British nationals to have serious mental health issues.

Clearly, there is a lot of appetite among MPs for the Government to lift the ban on people working. Just over £5 a day is simply unacceptable. We also want to see an end to the toxic and divisive language from the Home Office, the Home Secretary and some MPs on the Government Benches. Treating people like insects is not acceptable; everyone deserves decency and respect. We also want proper financial support for local authorities that support asylum seekers. We have a system whereby some local authorities support asylum seekers and will accept them, while others do not—that needs to be changed. We need reform to the system.

Read more here:

Update 7 July 2021: Guardian: UK to block visas for countries refusing to take back asylum seekers

Bill would give home secretary power to take action against citizens of countries deemed not to be cooperating …

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, described the plans as “dripping with cruelty” and an “affront to the caring people in this country who want a kinder, fairer approach to refugees”.

Read more:

Update 6 July 2021: Free Movement: The Nationality and Borders Bill 2021: first impressions

The much-hyped Nationality and Borders Bill is here. It mainly addresses asylum issues but there are some nationality provisions included as well, which we have already covered and will return to in another article soon.

My first impressions, reading through the Bill, are that

  1. A lot of it is already law so it isn’t actually very new at all.
  2. The bits that are new are likely to lead to a lot of uncertainty and litigation, which is good for lawyers but bad for refugees and the public purse.
  3. There is some genuine nastiness included.
  4. The Bill will only worsen the problems with the United Kingdom’s current asylum system.

The major problem with that system is that it takes far too long for the Home Office to decide an asylum claim. The number of people waiting more than 12 months for an initial decision was over 33,000 last year (ten times the number in 2010), according to recent research by the Refugee Council. This is bad for genuine refugees. It is, arguably, good for those whose cases ultimately fail.

Read more here:

Refugee Council: The Nationality and Borders Bill – A devastating day for refugee protection

[…] Next steps and how we fight back

The publication of the bill marks the start of its journey through Parliament, and MPs will debate the proposoals in the near future. This is the first opportunity to show the strength of opposition to these changes, and you can call on your MP to stand up for refugees here.

However, the campaign for a fair asylum system, with refugee protection at its heart, does not begin or end in Parliament. We want to build a mass campaign of people that won’t stand by while the Government turns its back on those who need protection. Please keep an eye out for more on this in the coming months from us.

Priti Patel’s statement can be found here:

Update 6 July 2021: Guardian: Judge tells Priti Patel to bring asylum seeker back to UK

High court says home secretary should use her ‘best endeavours’ to bring back Sudanese man so his trafficking and torture claims can be investigated

Priti Patel should bring back to the UK a small boat asylum seeker who was removed to France in the next 14 days, the high court has ruled.

In a ruling published on Tuesday, the day that Patel launched her nationality and borders bill, which she hopes will make it easier to remove asylum seekers who arrive in small boats, Mr Justice Wall ordered that the home secretary use her “best endeavours” to bring back a 38-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker from Darfur who can only be identified by the initials AA.

Read more:

Update 4 July 2021: Today’s suggestions from Priti Patel: the proposed legislation intends to make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, with the maximum sentence for those entering the country unlawfully rising from six months’ imprisonment to four years.

The Government also plans to also increase the tariff for people smugglers, with those found guilty facing life behind bars – up from the current maximum of 14 years.

Independent: Priti Patel announces harsher sentences for migrants in bid to deter Channel crossings

Migrants caught arriving in the UK without permission could face up to four years in prison under legislation, but charities say asylum-seekers are forced to risk lives due to lack of safe routes

The home secretary has announced that migrants seeking to cross the English Channel on small boats, and the people-smugglers enabling them, are to face more severe prison sentence in a bid to deter illegal crossings.

The move is part of the Nationality and Borders Bill, and is intended to fix the UK’s “broken asylum system” Priti Patel said.

Read more:

The Herald: Priti Patel announces harsher sentences for migrants in bid to deter Channel crossings

Migrants seeking to make their way to the UK on small boats, and their people-smuggling enablers, will face heavier prison sentences in a bid to prevent “asylum shopping”, the Home Office has announced.

The stricter enforcements form part of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is due for its first reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday, as part of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s pledge to “fix” the UK’s “broken asylum system”.

The proposed legislation intends to make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, with the maximum sentence for those entering the country unlawfully rising from six months’ imprisonment to four years.

The Government also plans to also increase the tariff for people smugglers, with those found guilty facing life behind bars – up from the current maximum of 14 years.

The Home Office said the sterner punishments were a bid to prevent “asylum shopping”, claiming that some migrants are allegedly “picking the UK as a preferred destination over others” when asylum could have been claimed earlier in their journey through Europe.

A clause contained in the legislation will broaden the offence of arriving unlawfully so that it encompasses arrival, as well as entry into the UK.

The moves is designed allow those who are intercepted in UK territorial seas to be brought into the country to be prosecuted, aides said.

Read more:

Updated 27 May 2021: Amnesty International: UK: ‘Reckless’ new plan on immigration sees major decline in processing asylum claims

Quarterly immigration statistics published by Home Office today: Long outstanding asylum claims 50% higher than a year ago

‘The Home Office’s new asylum rules are reckless and impractical’ – Steve Valdez-Symonds

New statistics published today by the Home Office show that immigration rules introduced by the Home Secretary last December have led to more than 1,500 people who have sought asylum in the UK being warned the Home Office is looking to send them to other countries. Although there are no agreements in place for those countries to accept responsibility for their asylum claims. To date, none of these people have been removed from the UK.

Reacting to the new quarterly statistics – which provide official information on the UK’s immigration system, including people coming to the UK, applying for asylum, and being detained or removed – Amnesty International said the new rules were “reckless and impractical”.

The new rules introduced at the start of the year are integral to the Government’s “plan”, announced in March, which seeks to largely dismantle the UK’s existing asylum system, including by refusing to consider many claims on the basis that people will be sent instead to other countries to have their claims dealt with by those countries. However, as many experts and critics have predicted, it is unlikely that other countries will be willing to receive from the UK people seeking asylum here.

Today’s data shows that so far nobody refused admission to the UK’s asylum system under the new rules has been accepted by a third country. Ultimately, if someone is not accepted by another country, the UK will have to consider the person’s asylum claim. As experts have warned, these new rules risk doing no more than adding to Home Office delays and backlogs.

Key findings from the quarterly statistics, which show a significant decline in the UK providing protection to people seeking asylum, are as follows: 

  • The UK granted leave to remain for 8,640 people (including dependants) in the year ending March 2021
  • This figure is around half (42%) of the number in the year ending March 2020, and the lowest level since 2012
  • In the year ending March 2021, there were 12,968 initial decisions made on asylum applications, and just under half (48%) of these were grants of asylum and humanitarian protection
  • Twelve months ago, the figure of asylum claims awaiting an initial decision after more than 6 months was 31,516. It has now reached 50,084, indicating major delays within the system

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Refugee and Migrant Rights Director at Amnesty International UK, said:

“The Home Office’s new asylum rules are reckless and impractical – and are not in keeping with the spirit and purpose of international refugee law.

“As predicted, today’s data shows that so far nobody refused admission to the UK’s asylum system under the new rules has been accepted by any other country.

“With these rules, the Home Secretary has merely introduced more uncertainty and delay which causes immense anxiety to people seeking asylum while adding to the mountain of existing backlogs.

“We don’t need these oppressive new laws and rules – we need the Home Secretary to focus on making the UK asylum system more accessible, reducing not adding to delays and improving the quality of decision-making so women, men and child refugees receive the protection of this country to which they are entitled.”

Updated 10 May 2021: Guardian: EU countries snub Priti Patel’s plans to return asylum seekers

UN criticises the proposals as so damaging they risked Britain’s ‘global credibility’

Not a single European country has decided to support the UK government’s controversial asylum plans, with the UN on Saturday night criticising the proposals as so damaging they risked Britain’s “global credibility”.

Six weeks after the home secretary, Priti Patel, unveiled a sweeping immigration overhaul that included deporting migrants who enter the UK illegally to safe countries such as “France and other EU countries”, sources have said the Home Office has been unable to persuade any European state to sign up to the scheme.

The UN’s refugee agency will soon publish its detailed legal opinion into Patel’s asylum proposals that is likely to conclude her plans infringe international legislation and are unworkable. Despite this, Patel’s asylum proposals are to feature in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday, which lays out the government’s legislative agenda for the next year.

Independent: Patel’s asylum plans ‘pose serious threat’ to rule of law and ‘undermine access to justice’, warns Law Society

In damning indictment of Home Office’s proposed immigration overhaul, solicitors body warns reforms would ‘make a mockery of British fair play’ and risk ‘overturning’ principle that everyone is equal

In an 81-page consultation response to the plans, Law Society president I Stephanie Boyce warned that penalising asylum seekers who reach UK shores by “so-called irregular routes”, such as by boat, risked breaching international law by creating a “two-tier asylum system”. “The proposals seek to push asylum-seekers who reach the UK by irregular routes into destitution or homelessness as a way of coercing them to leave the country. Extremely vulnerable people seeking asylum are exercising their legal right to escape human rights abuses – to penalise them in this way could constitute a further abuse. Punishing victims of crime is not acceptable in a civilised, democratic country which upholds the rule of law.

Read more: Independent,

30 April 2021: Women for Refugee Women: New Plan will harm women:


The government’s New Plan for Immigration will harm women seeking asylum. Today, 30 April 2020, more than 70 leaders of organisations and groups supporting women who have sought asylum write to the Home Secretary to express shared concerns about the New Plan.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Home Secretary, 

Re: Impact of proposed New Plan for Immigration on women seeking asylum 

We are writing to express our serious concerns over the proposed New Plan for Immigration (New Plan) and its potentially devastating effects on women seeking safety. Most of our organisations and groups support women who have fled sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Yet, despite these horrific experiences, many are failed by an asylum system which subjects them to disbelief, detention and destitution. On 24th March, you asked “where are the vulnerable women…that this system should exist to protect?” If introduced, the proposals would make things even worse for women in desperate need of refuge. 

The changes would have harmful effects on both men and women. In this letter we highlight the impact on women, as these experiences are too often unheard. 

  • Treatment of asylum-seeking women who arrive by irregular routes 

We are alarmed by proposals that unjustly differentiate between vulnerable people who have fled danger, based on how they have travelled to the UK. 

Temporary protection status 

Our organisations work with women who have fled rape, forced prostitution, trafficking, honour-based abuse and female genital mutilation. Many of these women are sexually or physically abused again when they travel to the UK, journeys that sometimes involve irregular routes so that they can quickly escape danger. There is a real risk that temporary protection status would result in some of the most vulnerable women being refused asylum – women who instead would be condemned to destitution, detention and possible removal to the countries where their lives remain in danger.

The absence of gender in the UN Refugee Convention makes the assessment of many women’s cases complex, and particularly when they involve persecution by private individuals as opposed to the state. Home Office guidance reminds us that “[v]iolence against women can occur more commonly within the family or community.” Yet, decision-makers have often shown a poor understanding of how private violence falls within the UN Refugee Convention, and the UK’s obligation to grant asylum. Under the proposed temporary status, cases would be reviewed every 30 months with a view to return to the country of origin or removal to a third country. Having to periodically demonstrate the need for safety is likely to be harmful for all women who have survived SGBV, and especially for those who have fled private violence. 

Reception centres 

We are concerned that the proposed reception centres could amount to a form of indefinite detention that would not only be retraumatising for women who have survived SGBV but also a barrier to disclosing their experiences. The New Plan cites the example of Denmark, even though the small amounts of financial support coupled with “the distance between asylum centres…and towns or cities, means people are effectively confined” there.

The same study also shows how asylum centres can be completely inappropriate for survivors of SGBV and trafficking to heal. Detaining women who have already survived trauma and violence inflicts immense harm and retraumatises them, particularly when there is no time limit. The New Plan states that the Home Office will first attempt to remove a person who has come to the UK irregularly and, where that is not possible within six months, will start to process their asylum claim. It is very likely therefore that many women will be deprived of their liberty for several months, if not longer. Research has found that the longer someone is held in immigration detention, the greater the effect on their mental health. In forcing women to relive traumatic memories of confinement and abuse, the reception centres could prevent disclosure and, therefore, a fair assessment of their claims. 

  • ‘One-stop’ process

We are very concerned that the ‘one-stop’ process could result in many women being wrongly refused asylum. The process would force traumatised women to raise all the reasons for why they need protection at the outset, with “minimal weight” given to evidence raised later in the process “unless there is good reason”. Yet there are many reasons for why women who have survived SGBV cannot disclose all relevant experiences at the initial stage; the Home Office’s own guidance acknowledges these barriers, that include “guilt, shame, concerns about family ‘honour’ or fear of family members.” The same guidance also acknowledges that women who have been trafficked to the UK may be facing threats from their traffickers at the time of their asylum interview, such that they are unable to speak openly with officials. Some LGBT women, who have fled persecution because of their sexual orientation, are not able to speak about their sexuality during the time of their initial asylum claim; they may still be coming to terms with it themselves, a process that can take many years. All of these challenges are exacerbated by a lack of specialist mental health and quality legal support. Most women that Women for Refugee Women support have not received adequate legal representation for their initial claim; some women have not had any legal advice at all.

It is vital that our asylum system allows all women to be heard. To that end, Home Office guidance states that late disclosure should not automatically prejudice a woman’s credibility. It is unclear then why the department is now considering changes that go against these standards. 

  • ‘Well-founded fear of persecution’ test

Proposals to introduce a ‘balance of probabilities’ standard are said to be necessary to “[make] it harder for unmeritorious claims to succeed.” Yet the UN Refugee Convention is based on the principle of ‘benefit of the doubt’, in favour of the person seeking safety. A more severe test would only increase the barriers that already exist for vulnerable women to obtain a fair assessment. 

  • Fast-track appeals process and accelerated claims and appeals process from detention 

We are extremely concerned that any form of accelerated processing could have a harmful effect on women with complex gender-based or trafficking claims. We would like to remind the Home Secretary of the Detained Fast Track and the devastating effects it had on women’s chances of successfully claiming asylum. The process was deemed unlawful by the Court of Appeal for being “systematically unfair”, with the Home Office refusing a staggering 99% of claims, compared to around 59% of non-fast track applications. It was also inherently unsuitable for complex cases, heavily criticised for its handling of gender-related and trafficking claims. Indeed, women from some of the most oppressive countries who faced persecution were wrongly refused asylum and deported as a result of the Detained Fast Track. 

  • Modern Slavery

We are disturbed by proposals to limit the protection of actual or potential victims of modern slavery. 

Legal standard for a reasonable grounds decision 

Proposals to strengthen the evidence threshold for deciding whether someone is a potential victim are said to be necessary to stop people claiming to be trafficking victims in order to prevent removal from the UK.  Yet it can take many months for a woman who has been forced into sexual exploitation to speak about the abuse she has suffered. It is therefore vital that potential victims are given a window to access support such as safe housing. We would like to remind the Home Secretary that a positive reasonable grounds decision is not the end of the matter; to be officially confirmed as a victim of trafficking then requires a positive conclusive grounds decision. We are concerned that a higher standard of proof at the first stage would harm some of the most vulnerable women, keeping them in the hands of their traffickers. It would also ignore the government’s own statistics which show that the majority of people in immigration detention who are referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) are subsequently recognised by the Home Office as potential victims of trafficking. 

The ‘public order exemption’

We object to amendments to the ‘public order exemption’ that would deny access to the NRM and associated protections to certain women who may be victims of trafficking, including those with a criminal sentence of 12 months or more. Some of our organisations are aware of women who have been subject to sexual and other forms of labour exploitation, who have been prosecuted and imprisoned for criminal offences related to their exploitation, and who need protection. 

Last year, you spoke of your commitment to a “more compassionate approach”, a Home Office that saw “people not cases”. However, a genuine commitment to compassion would not result in these proposals. We strongly urge you to reconsider your approach, and to listen to the women who have sought safety in this country. 

Yours sincerely,

Guardian: ‘Sham’: 200 groups criticise UK government consultation on refugee policy

Bodies say survey is poorly designed, rushed and may exclude refugees from responding

Almost 200 organisations have branded a government consultation on fundamental changes to refugee policy “a sham”.

A total of 192 refugee, human rights, legal and faith groups have signed a public statement condemning the six-week consultation on the government’s New Plan for Immigration as “vague, unworkable, cruel and potentially unlawful”.

The Home Office states that the consultation, which ends on 6 May, is about plans to make the asylum and immigration system fairer and more efficient, to deter illegal entry and to enable the government to more easily remove people they say have no right to be in the UK.

Read more: