News & Views Monday 14th December to Sunday 20th December 2020


Shocking Death Toll of Asylum Seekers in Home Office Accommodation

Twenty-Nine Asylum Seekers Have Died in Home Office Accommodation So Far This Year Five times as many as those who have lost their lives on perilous Channel small boat crossings over the same period. The Guardian obtained the figure in a freedom of information response from the Home Office, which does not publish deaths data. The identities of the majority of those who died have not been made public and the circumstances of their deaths are unclear. Many asylum seekers are in the 20-40 age group and are fit and healthy when they embark on what are often physically and emotionally gruelling journeys to the UK.

The Scottish Refugee Council has called for all 29 deaths to be fully and independently investigated. In September, a group of Glasgow MPs also called for a fatal accident inquiry into three deaths that occurred in the city. Clare Moseley, the founder of the Care4Calais charity, said: “It’s shameful that more refugees die here in the UK, in Home Office accommodation, than do so in Calais or trying to cross the Channel. Refugees are the world’s most resilient people. Many have crossed the Sahara desert and made it through the hell of Libya, facing unimaginable hardship to get this far. But the way we treat them in this country is cruel.

Read more: Dianne Taylor, Guardian,

UK ‘Reneges on Vow to Reunite Child Refugees With Families’

Unaccompanied children in France are being told by the French authorities that they should give up hope of being reunited with family in the UK after the Home Office failed to offer the help it had promised. With the deadline to enter the UK legally and safely under the EU’s family reunification rules due to expire at the end of the year, the Home Office is accused of reneging on its vow to help unaccompanied children reunite with family in the UK. A year ago, Boris Johnson told parliament that he was “absolutely committed to ensuring that this country will continue to receive unaccompanied children” after Britain left the EU.

The Home Office had pledged to reunite families who applied before the 31 December deadline, with charities also saying they received assurances that the UK would continue to reunite families next year for cases accepted before the Brexit transition period ended. However, sources have now revealed that “no proper arrangements” were put in place by the UK for transfers under the family reunification Dublin agreement. Last week, French authorities, following discussions with the country’s interior ministry, began telling children and families that they could not apply to reunite with family in the UK.

Read more; Mark Townsend, Guardian,

EDM 1263: Migrant Workers' Rights

That this House would like to thank migrant workers who have been at the forefront of the UKs response to the pandemic; believes that recovery from covid-19 must level up migrant workers’ rights; further recognises that the Hostile Environment, particularly No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and the “illegal working” offence, forces migrants to continue go into work even when it is not safe to do; is concerned that the illegal working offence pushes undocumented migrants to look for employment among exploitative employers who know they are unable report abuse in the workplace for fear of immigration enforcement; expresses further concern that the illegal working offence disincentivises employers from hiring migrant workers and creates a culture of discrimination in employment practices; notes that the exploitation of migrant workers in the labour market drives down labour standards and protections for all workers; and calls on the Government to implement the recommendations in the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants “Work It Out” campaign by scrapping NRPF and repealing the “illegal working” offence.

EDM (Early Day Motion)1263: tabled on 10 December 2020

Tabled 10 December 2020, by Nadia Whittome

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 1263,

To find your MP go here:

Home Secretary Failed to Provide and Monitor Accommodation

Suitably worded declarations will be made to the effect that the Secretary of State:
(1) was in breach of her duty under section 4(2) of the 1999 Act as regards the claimants, in failing to provide accommodation to the claimants within a reasonable period of time;

(2) was and is in breach of her duties under section 4(2) of the 1999 Act and section 6 of the 1998 Act, in failing properly to monitor the provision of accommodation under section 4(2) of the 1999 Act;

(3) was and is in breach of the public sector equality duty in failing, once she has reached a decision that she has a duty to accommodate under section 4(2) of the 1999 Act, to monitor the provision of that section 4(2) accommodation to individuals who have a disability.

The claimants in these proceedings had each sought asylum. Their claims for asylum had been rejected by the defendant ("the Secretary of State") although they awaited consideration of further representations. For the time being, each remained in the country. Under prevailing arrangements, the claimants had no right to work to provide for themselves. At the same time, they had "no recourse to public funds" for shelter, food or what, in one of the authorities, Lord Bingham termed "the most basic necessities of life".

Each claimant asked the Secretary of State to accept a duty to provide accommodation or arrange for the provision of accommodation. The Secretary of State properly accepted the duty in each case, by reference to section 4(2) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 ("the 1999 Act"). The issues in these proceedings concern the performance of that duty; the actual provision of the accommodation. At the same time they provide a particular focus on the role of monitoring (including collection and capture of data, and evaluation).

There are two claims, and they are heard together by order of Swift J, as Judge in Charge of the Administrative Court. There are 5 claimants in total, there are various aspects of vulnerability, and one claimant at least is severely disabled. Their identities have been kept private in these proceedings. Their circumstances are examples of the circumstances of others. One claimant was in due course granted asylum and leave to remain and two were in due course granted leave to remain.

Want to Fix the “Broken” Asylum System? Start With Country of Origin Info

The UK’s official guidance on the human rights situation in countries producing asylum seekers is too often out of date and should be better resourced, the immigration inspector has found. David Bolt suggests that if the Home Secretary is serious about fixing what she calls a “broken” asylum system, she could usefully start with something dull but vital like country of origin information.

The context is an inspection of how Home Ofice country of origin information deals with the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in various countries. An expert in LGBTI asylum issues, Dr S Chelvan (now at 33 Bedford Row), reviewed dozens of individual documents and rated them from “Excellent” down to “Priority Urgent Action”. He passed his report to the Home Office in February 2020, along with ten overarching recommendations. Mr Bolt has now come along to inspect the Home Office’s response to the Chelvan review.

His conclusion is that the relevant team “responded relatively quickly (within three months)” to update most of the documents flagged by Dr Chelvan as needing changes. The notable exception was the country of origin information for LGBTI people in Sri Lanka, with Dr Chelvan and the Home Office at loggerheads about the prevalence of forced conversion therapy.

Read more: Freemovement,


Home Office Unlawfully Leaving Destitute and Disabled Asylum-Seekers Homeless

The Home Office is leaving destitute asylum-seekers homeless in breach of the law due to its failure to monitor the operations of private firms contracted to manage asylum accommodation, the High Court has ruled. In a ruling handed down on Monday morning, Justice Robin Knowles found that the five claimants in the case – all asylum-seekers considered by the Home Office itself to be “highly vulnerable” and eligible for housing support – had been left homeless for prolonged periods. In one case, a severely disabled man was forced to stay on friends’ sofas and at some points sleep on the streets near the renal clinic he had to attend for kidney dialysis because the government failed to move him into suitable accommodation, the court heard. The Home Office had assessed him as needing level-access accommodation and accepted that this should be close to his dialysis clinic, yet it took nine months and three applications to the court before this was eventually provided. Justice Knowles ruled that the Home Office had failed to monitor the provision of accommodation to disabled migrants in breach of the law, and discriminated unlawfully against the man by subjecting him to unfavourable treatment because of something arising from his disability.

Read more: May bulman Independent,

International Migrants Day - Saturday 18th December 2020

Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual’s will to overcome adversity and to live a better life. Today, globalization, together with advances in communications and transportation, has greatly increased the number of people, who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places. This new era has created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world. It also has served to underscore the clear linkage between migration and development, as well as the opportunities it provides for co-development, that is, the concerted improvement of economic and social conditions at both origin and destination. Migration draws increasing attention in the world nowadays. Mixed with elements of unforeseeability, emergency, and complexity, the challenges and difficulties of international migration require enhanced cooperation and collective action among countries and regions. The United Nations is actively playing a catalyst role in this area, with the aim of creating more dialogues and interactions within countries and regions, as well as propelling experience exchange and collaboration opportunities.

The observance of International Migrants Day this year focuses on the stories of social cohesion, which are as varied and unique as each of the 272 million migrants living new lives and building new communities in every corner of the globe. We learn together, create together, work together, sing, dance and play together. We live together. That is the meaning of International Migrants Day and its message.

United Nations Calling for Peace, Dignity and Equality on a Healthy Planet

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Helpline for Advice on Immigration Appeals Dismissed Under Unlawful Covid Guidance

Immigration charity JCWI has set up a helpline for people to seek advice if they had an appeal dismissed under Upper Tribunal guidance that was later found to be unlawful. A guidance note encouraging Upper Tribunal judges to decide appeals “on the papers” — that is, without hearing oral argument — was declared unlawful by the High Court on 20 November. JCWI, which took the High Court case, says that All cases which have been dealt with under the version of the [guidance note] which was in place between 23 March 2020 and 20 November 2020, are potentially affected by this judgment.

“Potentially” is the key word; it doesn’t seem to follow from the judgment that all appeals dismissed on the papers between those dates can automatically be reopened. JCWI says in a detailed advice note that two possible courses of action are to take the case on to the Court of Appeal, or to apply for decisions to be set aside under rule 43(2)(d) of the Upper Tribunal Procedure Rules 2008. JCWI is also offering a helpline. It is “available to anyone, whether a litigant in person or a representative calling on behalf of an appellant, who has received a letter from the [Upper Tribunal] or the Home Office, or who thinks their case has been considered under the unlawful guidance and would like advice about what to do next”

Read more: Freemovement,

Settlement as a Skilled Worker – What You Need to Know

Since 1 December 2020, migrants who would previously have applied for settlement in the UK (aka “indefinite leave to remain”) under the Tier 2 (General) route now need to apply under the new Skilled Worker route. In this article we explain the requirements for settlement as a Skilled Worker and highlight the main differences with the settlement rules under Tier 2 (General). If you are looking instead to apply for a Skilled Worker visa for the first time, we’ve covered the application process elsewhere on the site: see Nichola’s informative article here.

What are the requirements on settlement for Skilled Workers?
The legal requirements for this route are found in a new part of the Immigration Rules called Appendix Skilled Worker. Within the Appendix is a section called “Settlement as a Skilled Worker”. It has the following structure: validity requirements suitability requirements; and eligibility requirements, composed of: qualifying period requirement; continuous residence requirement; knowledge of life in the UK requirement; and sponsorship and salary requirement. Be warned that you may still need to do some cross-referencing. Appendix Skilled Worker refers the reader to these other sections of the Immigration Rules:

Read more: Freemovement,