News & Views Monday 18th December to Sunday 24th December 2017  

Home Office Urged to Stop ‘Harmful’ Immigration Checks on Bank Accounts

The Home Office has been urged by more than 60 MPs, academics and campaign groups to halt an "inhumane" new policy that will see banks required to check the immigration status of account holders from January. An open letter to Amber Rudd — whose signatories include Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Labour MP David Lammy and human rights group Liberty – warns that the checks could see thousands wrongly blocked from using banking services, due to the Home Office's "poor track record" of dealing with complaints and appeals in a timely manner. The letter, seen exclusively by The Independent, also urges that the policy will be most harmful to BAME communities, and will increase the vulnerability of people who are already in precarious positions.

The legislation, designed as part of the Government’s bid to create a “hostile environment” for immigrants, will require banks and building societies to check 70 million current accounts each quarter. The provisions came into effect in October and the first checks are due to be carried out in January 2018. People whose visas have run out, failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders facing deportation should then have their accounts closed down or frozen under the new legislation. The Home Office says it is expecting the policy to identify 6,000 illegal immigrants in the first year. 

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Keep Boxer Kelvin Bilal Fawaz in the UK

Bilal "Kelvin" Fawaz who is well known within the amateur boxing circuit is being held and threatened with deportation back to a country of which he has no family or origin. He represented Stonebridge and has also represented England over five times. Bilal is an upstanding member of our country who is role to his peers and all young people and has won many accolades such as the prestigious England Boxing Amateur Elite Title. 

A boxing champion who has fought for England several times is locked in an immigration centre pending deportation to Nigeria - a country he's competed against. Bilal Fawaz, also known as Kelvin, London's current middleweight boxing champion, arrived in the UK from Nigeria at the age of 14 and has even represented England on six occasions. However, the 29-year-old's leave to remain has expired and for the past week he's been held in an immigration centre he says is "like prison", pending his deportation to the West African country. The Home Office has rejected Bilal's numerous applications for residency and declared his marriage to a British citizen void.  Read the full story:

We ask that you sign this petition to help keep Bilal "Kelvin" Fawaz in the UK.

Council of Europe: Statement on International Migrants Day

Europe has always been a continent of diversity. Migration has always been an integral part of its history.

After the large-scale migration towards Europe in the last couple of years, our continent is facing several challenges. Many countries struggle to guarantee the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants and refugees. The voices of those who portray migrants as a threat to public order, national identity and security are louder than others. Anti-immigration political agendas swing election results while adding to the expansion of populism in Europe. We will be able to address these challenges only if the integration of migrants and refugees who will remain in Europe is successful. Integration will be successful only if we embrace its opportunities.

Effective integration policies can create opportunities for economic, social and cultural development in European societies. Integration of migrants and refugees is a means of addressing the very concern expressed by many, that is to protect national security. Through building inclusive societies, we can counter political polarisation, social fragmentation, populism and growing reticence to international co-operation.

This is all the more important in respect of migrant and refugee children. We must take special care of them, particularly those who are alone. We also need to make sure that they do not miss out on education and other opportunities to form bonds with their new communities. This is why the Council of Europe has adopted an Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children. The activities it proposes will contribute significantly to their current well-being and help them to find their place in our societies.

Today, Monday 18th December, International Migrants Day, we should remember the values of human rights, democracy and rule of law which underpin the Council of Europe’s work. They have contributed to making Europe a place of refuge for people in need of protection and better-life opportunities for migrants. We must make sure that these values remain at the heart of what we do for migrants and refugees. The choices we make today will have an impact on our future.

EEA Rough Sleepers – Deportation Orders Quashed

Gureckis, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 3298 (Admin) (14 December 2017)

1) These three linked claims for judicial review have been selected as test cases in which to consider the lawfulness of the Defendant's policy, and its application, to EEA (European Economic Area) nationals found sleeping rough in the United Kingdom ("UK"). The version of the policy challenged in these claims was contained in the Defendant's guidance to immigration officers entitled 'European Economic Area (EEA) administrative removal', version 3.0, published 1 February 2017. The guidance set out the circumstances in which rough sleeping would be treated as an abuse of EU Treaty rights, rendering an EEA national liable to removal, if proportionate to do so.

2) The Claimants and the AIRE Centre submitted that the policy was unlawful because rough sleeping could not constitute an "abuse of rights" under article 35 of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States ("the Directive"), as implemented by regulation 26 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 ("the 2016 Regulations"). Furthermore, the policy discriminated unlawfully against EEA nationals and rough sleepers and the application of the policy involved unlawful systematic verification.

3) Permission to apply for judicial review was initially refused on the papers, Ouseley J. granted permission to apply for judicial review at an oral hearing on 12 July 2017. Other similar claims have been stayed pending the outcome in the test cases. The outcome of the test cases will also be relevant to pending tribunal appeals against decisions to remove.

4). The AIRE Centre was given permission to make written, but not oral, representations as an intervenor. I gave careful consideration to Mr Kennelly QC's well-crafted written submissions.

Final Conclusions
124. For the reasons set out above, the claims for judicial review are granted.

125. The parties asked me to give guidance on the lawfulness of the Defendant's proposed revised policy, which provided a more nuanced response to the issues. I declined to do so for the following reasons. None of the test cases before me concerned the proposed revised policy. The revised policy was at planning stage; only a summary was available, not the full text. It had not yet received ministerial approval. The summary was published shortly before this hearing, on 30 October 2017. It was only referred to briefly by Mr Lamont and by counsel. The AIRE Centre has not made representations upon it. It remained part of the proposed revised policy that rough sleeping may be an abuse of rights. In view of the conclusions in this judgment, I suggest that the better course is for the Defendant to take stock and re-consider the terms of the proposed revised policy, in the light of advice from her legal advisers.

126. Following circulation of my draft judgment, I received written representations on remedies from the parties.

127. All parties consented to a quashing order in the following terms:    "The Defendant's guidance, "European Economic Area (EEA) administrative removal", version 3.0, published 1 February 2017, is quashed insofar as it treats rough sleeping, whether intentional, harmful or otherwise, as an abuse of Treaty rights."

128. I granted Mr Gureckis an order quashing the removal notices which were served upon him. The Defendant opposed a similar order in the case of Mr Cielecki. Judicial review is a discretionary remedy, and in the exercise of my discretion, I refused to grant Mr Cielecki an order quashing the removal notices served upon him. Although he was initially questioned because he was sleeping rough, the decision to issue removal notices was made on the basis that he was not exercising Treaty rights. The lawfulness of the decision to remove him on that basis was upheld by the FTT, and his applications for permission to appeal were refused. Thus, the issue of the removal notices has not caused him any injustice, and it would be futile to quash them since the Defendant could, and would, immediately re-issue them.

129. The Claimants applied for wide-ranging declarations, reflecting the grounds upon which they were successful in the claim for judicial review. The Defendant consented to the applications. However, I refused to grant the declarations sought, as I considered that they were unnecessary and inappropriate. The quashing orders provided the individual Claimants with appropriate relief for the unlawful acts committed against them. The quashing of the current guidance also provided relief for others affected by the Defendant's policy. My judgment set out in some detail the complex legal basis upon which I upheld the Claimants' grounds of challenge. I considered it was potentially misleading to elevate brief summaries of my conclusions into free-standing declarations of law.

130. The Defendant agreed to pay the reasonable costs of each Claimant and I ordered detailed assessment of the Claimants' publicly funded costs.

Somalis Were Shackled for Nearly 48 Hours on Failed US Deportation Flight

More than 90 Somali men and women were held shackled on an airplane for nearly 48 hours – and some were forced to urinate where they sat – during a failed attempt to deport them from the US, according to a lawsuit filed late on Monday. Seven passengers representing the 92 people onboard alleged they suffered “inhumane conditions and egregious abuse” on the 7 December flight, which was due to land in Mogadishu, Somalia, but only reached Dakar, Senegal, where it was held for 23 hours before returning to the US.  “When the plane’s toilets overfilled with human waste, some of the detainees were left to urinate into bottles or on themselves,” the lawsuit says. “Ice [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents wrapped some who protested, or just stood up to ask a question, in full-body restraints. Ice agents kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane, and subjected some to verbal abuse and threats.”

Read more: Amanda Holpuch, Guardian,

Urge Your MP to Help Reunite Refugee Families

The Refugee Council is campaigning to change the UK’s restrictive rules surrounding refugee family reunion.

These rules place huge barriers on which family members refugees settled in the UK are allowed to bring to join them. For many families who have already experienced untold horrors, this enforced separation is heart-breaking and significantly adds to their suffering.

This needs to change - and with your help it can.

On Friday 16 March 2018 MPs will have the opportunity to support a Refugee Family Reunion Bill that would make vital changes needed to allow more refugee families, torn apart by war and persecution, to be reunited in safety in the UK.

We need to make sure as many MPs as possible take this opportunity by turning up to parliament that day and supporting this Bill.

We have set up a dedicated page go to:

Then take three easy steps:

Step 1: Type in your postcode in the box click submit – this will take you to:

Step 2: You can preview the email that will go to your MP in your name

Step 3: Click send! And you’re done!

With Thanks, UK Refugee Council

E-Petition: Enslavement of Black Africans (Libya) – Reaches 265,272 Signatures

That this House has considered E-petition 205476 relating to the enslavement of black Africans in Libya.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Walker. I would like to read the petition into the record. It reads: “Put pressure on Libya to take action to stop enslavement of Black Africans.

CNN has released video footage of black Africans being sold into slavery in Libya. I am asking the UK government to put pressure on the Libyan government to take immediate action to stop these criminals from selling more people, to set current prisoners free, arrest the criminals and end this.”

As of this morning, Monday 18th December, 265,272 people had signed the petition within only about three weeks of it going live, which is a real testament to people’s strength of feeling. It is interesting: the likes of Cara Delevingne, Naomi Campbell and Rihanna, and a whole load of rappers who are far too cool for me to even know who they are, have taken up this issue, put it on social media and shared it. All of that, including the petition system, is really part—not the end—of a campaign to make people aware of the horrific things going on in another part of the world that they might otherwise not have been aware of at all. Hopefully, as well as raising awareness, we can start to effect change.

Read the full debate, Westminster Hall,

Self-Sufficiency and Right of Residence in the UK

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland (Ermira Bajratari v SSHD) has made a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) and asked them to provide a preliminary ruling on an issue of EU law. This relates to the status of a non-EU citizen claiming a derivative right of residence in the UK relying on the EU citizenship status of a child (colloquially known as Chen parents). The AIRE Centre intervened as a third party.

The case concerns a husband and his wife who are nationals of a non-EU country, Albania. The husband had a residence card authorising him to reside in the United Kingdom based on a previous relationship with a UK national. Although this relationship ended, he had lawfully resided and worked in Northern Ireland, prior to meeting his future wife and going to Albania to get married. He returned to Northern Ireland on an unspecified date. His residence card had not been revoked, and sometime later he was joined by his wife. She did not have any authorisation to work.

The family have lived in Northern Ireland ever since. They had three children, two of whom are nationals of the Republic of Ireland. The husband has continued to work in Northern Ireland, but after his residence card expired, he was effectively working illegally under domestic law, as section 1(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 required him in these circumstances to have permission to live, work and settle in the United Kingdom.

The ECJ ruled in the case of Chen [2004] ECR I-9525 that an EEA national child (as is the case here) who held sickness insurance would have a right to reside in the UK (as a self-sufficient person) with his primary carer, provided that the primary carer had sufficient resources to ensure that the child did not become a burden on public funds.

The question that the Court of Appeal has grappled with is – what income can be taken into account to determine the self-sufficiency of an EEA citizen?

Read more: ‘The Justice Gap’,

Challenge to Legality of Dublin Significant Risk of Absconding Regulations 2017

The Administrative Court has designated a cohort of six Duncan Lewis cases (Omar & Others) to examine the legality of the Transfer for Determination of an Application for International Protection Regulations 2017 which came into force on the 15th March 2017. The Administrative Court has ordered a rolled-up hearing to take place on the 1st February 2018.

The key grounds of challenge are;
  • That it was unlawful for the SSHD to transplant factors found in previous immigration detention practice and guidance
  • That the 2017 Regulations fail to prescribe the criteria which must form the basis for any reasoned conclusion in an individual case that there is a significant risk of the individual absconding if not detained.
  • That the provisions are unlawful and contrary to the content and purpose of the Dublin III Regulation
  • That the 2017 Regulations contain provisions far too broad and imprecise
  • That the 2017 Regulations are unlawful in not securing such rights of transparency, legal certainty and due process.

This news has the potential to be highly beneficial to those detained under the Dublin Detention Regulations of 2017 (after 15TH March 2017) since anyone detained in this way has been subject to unlawful detention because of capriciously chosen criteria. It also hinders access to legal advice and representation, which is considerably important for challenging the unlawfulness of detention itself, as well as challenging substantive decisions to remove to another Member State.

Those in detention could possibly seek an interim relief application for release from detention if they are found to have been unlawfully detained although it will be necessary to establish whether or not the detainee has real prospects for release and they will require full, detailed statements in order to make their case.

It is believed that the Home Office has taken a reckless approach as to establishing whether or not the Dublin Detention Regulations 2017 are lawful. Due to the large number of people affected by issues related to detention under the regulations, an investigation is being launched as to the prospects of those affected being able to obtain generic relief.

The Claimants are currently represented by Raja Uruthiravinayagan, who is leading the legal team, Maria Petrova and Husein Meghji. Instructed Counsel are Stephen Knight and David Chirico, both of 1 Pump Court Chambers, and Michael Fordham QC of Blackstone Chambers.

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