On 15th September 2020, the Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts wrote to Local Authority Chief Executives – you can read the letter here: https://statusnow4all.org/condemnation-of-home-office-decision-to-start-evicting-asylum-seekers-despite-warning-of-second-wave/
Three days later, 18th September 2020, the Public Accounts Committee exposed that the Home Office has no idea of the impact of immigration policies and raised serious concerns over the work of the Home Office Immigration Enforcement directorate dating back over several years. That Home Office ‘work’ has directly interfered in the lives of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, including children in families. That ‘work’ has resulted in a myriad of humanity-denying actions authorised through Home Office powers, as most recently exemplified in the horrific death of Mercy Baguma. From within Government structures, the 18th September report placed massive questions marks over a multitude of migration related Home Office decisions.
On 19th September, reporting on government intention to restart wholesale evictions and continue deportations, the Guardian Newspaper quoted a Home Office spokesperson: “The phased cessation of support has now begun in order to reduce the demand on the asylum system” (our italics). This is irrational: the ‘demand on the asylum system’ does not exist because of the existence of government support introduced during COVID19, it exists because people have had to flee from their own countries – pre-COVID – in order to stay alive and protect their children.
The Government spokesperson went on: “We have been clear from the outset that this was a temporary measure which would be brought to an end as soon as it was safe to do so.” Evicting people into destitution and/or detaining and deporting them to the places from which they have fled in search of safety is unsafe at any time.
In the same way, working families who are British and now living in deep poverty were experiencing that deep privation before COVID. Yesterday’s (Sunday, 20th September 2020) Government announcement that there will be six-month eviction notice periods for renters until March 2021, does nothing to address the fact, clearly evidenced one month ago by District Councils, that upwards of 500,000 people face homelessness. The vulnerabilities of the poorest people in the world – wherever we come from – are becoming deeper and, in this case, the UK Government’s response is reaching new knee-jerk levels of callous chaos.
Today (21st September) the Government describes how the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus. It asserts that the current situation requires swift action to bring the case numbers down. Neither evicting nor deporting people will bring case numbers down.
For people seeking asylum and currently accommodated the Status Now Network encourages you to:
- Sit tight – pointing to how people can support each other where they arein hostels and hotels housing people seeking asylum within local communities: https://statusnow4all.org/how-can-we-be-practical-with-the-people-living-in-the-hostels-and-hotels/
- Argue the case against being evicted in the courts: our understanding is that courts are not signing off on eviction notices at this time – for anyone. However courts could resume eviction orders at any time and anyone in an area not under local lockdown restrictions may well be immediately at risk.
The Government has claimed that “Assistance is available for those who leave voluntarily,” before threatening “but for those who do not, enforcement action may be taken to facilitate removal” and, last month the Status Now Network condemned Government deportation activity during the last COVID peak.
Ultimately, the Home Office is incapable of providing the public in Britain with a rational and reasonable explanation for the £392million annual spend on immigration enforcement. The Home Office has failed, resoundingly, to manage immigration in the UK and is directly responsible for wide ranging averse impacts on everyone who lives here: citizens, migrants including the undocumented, everyone in legal process, people seeking asylum and refugees.
Since 2012’s ‘Hostile Environment’ Government policy went public, the Home Office’s strategy for managing migration by maintaining a culture of xenophobia and racism is very costly, on many levels, for us all: those who currently pay taxes and those denied to right to work legally and therefore denied the right to contribute their taxes.
That is why we say Status Safety and Solidarity Now 4 All
Please join us tomorrow at 7.30 to listen, share and evolve our best next steps Together –
Information about the event on 22 September 2020: https://statusnow4all.org/status-safety-and-solidarity-event-22-september-2020/
Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/status-safety-and-solidarity-now-4-all-tickets-121238566817?aff=eand