7 March 2021: Chris Philps says: […] there are no plans to provide ILR to all asylum applicants or those with insecure status.’
We say: The options you offer are completely unrealistic. The idea that projecting a hostile environment is helpful, and your view of granting ILR – both please need to be reconsidered now.
Chris Philps, Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts wrote on 4 March 2021:
‘On providing all undocumented migrants with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), the Immigration Rules already provide for undocumented migrants, who have not broken the law except for remaining here without lawful immigration status and have been in the UK for a long time, to regularise their status.
If appropriate, in light of the situation in their country of origin, irregular migrants may claim asylum. Even if an application is refused, measures we have implemented already guarantee that an individual can remain safely accommodated and be able to follow public health guidance, whilst maintaining access to financial support and healthcare until the end of June, and this will be kept under review.
As a result of this, there are no plans to provide ILR to all asylum applicants or those with insecure status.
We understand the much-paraded comment about legal paths to becoming regularised, however this is a red herring in the current situation because under the Immigration Rules, many people who are undocumented will be able to apply for Leave to Remain only after being here for 20 years, and then subject to various requirements:
Requirements to be met by an applicant for leave to remain on the grounds of private life:
Immigrations Rules: 276ADE
(1). The requirements to be met by an applicant for leave to remain on the grounds of private life in the UK are that at the date of application, the applicant:
(i) does not fall for refusal under any of the grounds in Section S-LTR 1.1 to S-LTR 2.2. and S-LTR.3.1. to S-LTR.4.5. in Appendix FM; and
(ii) has made a valid application for leave to remain on the grounds of private life in the UK; and
(iii) has lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years (discounting any period of imprisonment);
This does not address the immediate concern about being identified and detained indefinitely, and/or removed from UK if they come forward for testing and/or the vaccine, which is a realistic fear given the on-going hostile environment and Priti Patel’s repeated assertions that her Department will prioritise removals.
Privacy International captures the point here https://privacyinternational.org/news-analysis/4424/hostile-environment-incompatible-public-health-pi-joins-vaccine-all-campaign:
Earlier this week, the UK Government announced that no immigration status checks will be carried out for migrants trying to register with their GP and get vaccinated. But temporary offers of safety are not enough to undo the decades of harm caused by policies that have embedded immigration controls into public services.
Years of charging migrants for healthcare and sharing patient data with the Home Office has eroded trust between migrant communities and the NHS. As a result, they might not seek proper care for fear of being reported to the Home Office, or if their inability to work means they fear being charged for any access. Without trust, public health loses out.
In addition to general distrust, and the fact of lack of transparency with private firms taking parts of the contracts – enabling information about individuals to easily be squirrelled off elsewhere including to the Home Office, the wording of the rules around free covid-19 treatment (and not communicating information to the Home Office) are vague enough to create distrust – for example, what happens if coronavirus treatment morphs into pneumonia or other such complication for which paying may be sought?
In relation to claiming asylum by those fearful of returning to the countries they left, many will already have been refused asylum and the level of evidence required for revisiting their case is unlikely to be available. They have been failed by a system which does not provide sufficient opportunity, or adequate legal aid for people to put together a proper case that will be recognised by the system; within a system that begins with disbelief and expectations of proving the impossible; that looks for small anomalies on which to peg a refusal on the grounds of evidence being discredited with no leeway for what people have experienced, trauma, lack of understanding of the language, etc.etc.
Those who have come on a visa such as students and other overstayed may have a sur place case, but again not come forward because of the expectations of evidence which is difficult to provide.
Once back in the ‘leave to remain’ system people will face a challenge every 2.5 years when they have to pay exorbitant fees to fund further applications for leave to remain until they have been in that system for ten years and can apply for indefinite leave to remain – ILR.
At this time of coronavirus, we need everyone to feel safe enough to come forward, and without ILR, this will not happen.
The options you offer are completely unrealistic. The idea that projecting a hostile environment is helpful, and your view of granting ILR – both please need to be reconsidered now.