News & Views Monday 13th August to Sunday 19th August 2018  

Abuse Victims Increasingly Denied Right to Stay in UK

The refusal rate for people applying to stay in the UK after suffering domestic violence more than doubled between 2012 and 2016 after the government pledged to make the UK a “hostile environment for illegal immigrants”. A new rule, which allowed people who entered the UK on a spousal visa and then suffered domestic abuse, the right to apply for leave to remain, was introduced in 2002 after campaigners argued that women were being forced to choose between deportation and continued abuse or domestic violence.

But a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Guardian has revealed that the refusal rate for applications under the domestic violence rule rose from 12% in 2012 to 30% in 2016, the last year for which full-year data was available. The figures show that 1,325 people were refused out of a total of 5,820 applications made between 2012 and 2016.

The situation for immigrant women who have suffered domestic violence has dramatically worsened in the past four years, said Radhika Handa, legal policy and campaigns officer at Southall Black Sisters. “We have this really hostile state climate where migrant women suffering domestic violence are being sacrificed at the altar of an immigration policy obsessed with limiting rights,” she said. “That is not the hallmark of a civilised democratic society. We’ve been horrified by it.” Campaigners accuse the Home Office of using the testimony of violent husbands to deny victims of domestic violence the right to remain in the UK after they have escaped abusive relationships.

Read more: Niamh McIntyre and Alexandra Topping, Guardian,

US and Mexico Child Deportations Drive Extreme Violence and Trauma

The many life-threatening dangers faced by children from Central America who are being deported from the United States of America and Mexico, are highlighted in a new report from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which also draws attention to the traumatic consequences of family separation by migration authorities.
In the first 6 months of this year, almost 25,000 women and children from northern Central America were deported after arriving in Mexico and the US, in search of asylum or a better life. The study, Uprooted in Central America and Mexicoidentifies poverty and violence as two of the main reasons why children are leaving their homes in Central America, and attempting to migrate to the US and Mexico, mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Once the children are sent back to their country of origin, these threats only increase.

Central American countries are some of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere: almost three quarters of Honduran children are living in poverty. Many families take out loans to finance their departure, and, when they are sent back, children can find themselves homeless or unable to pay for basic necessities. For those who fled their homes to escape gang violence (endemic in communities across northern Central America, with hundreds murdered every year), a return can mean a heightened risk of attack. In fear of their lives, many avoid their towns and villages and end up internally-displaced.

Read more: UNICEF,

Govan Law Centre Adds New Case to Challenge Serco Glasgow Evictions

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has commenced additional legal proceedings at the Court of Session on behalf of an Iraqi asylum seeker threatened with a "DIY eviction" by Serco. The proceedings are against Serco Group plc, Compass SNI Ltd, and the Home Secretary. The new action concerns a woman told to leave her home by Serco after her husband’s asylum application was unsuccessful, despite having further legal options. GLC plans to argue this case together with its current Court of Session action for an Iranian national threatened with a lock change eviction by Serco.

Mike Dailly, Govan Law Centre principal solicitor, said: “Following the successful European Court of Human Rights case of Panyushkiny v. Russia [2018] H.L.R 7, we believe an asylum seeker at risk of eviction has the right to challenge the proportionality of that eviction before an independent tribunal as a matter of human rights law.
"GLC believes Serco’s Move on Protocol is unlawful and incompatible with the 1998 Human Rights Act, and it is incumbent upon Serco to place it’s entire policy on hold in Scotland, pending Scotland’s Supreme Court having an opportunity to consider and rule on this issue”.

Source: Scottish Legal News

Racist Trump Plans to Exclude 20 Million Migrants From Citizenship

Millions of migrants could be banned from US citizenship if they claimed benefits in the latest racist attack by Donald Trump’s White House. The planned laws show the Trump administration is broadening its assault from undocumented migrants to all migrants.  The new rules are being pushed by the racist Stephen Miller, a key adviser to Trump. Miller has previously been a legal adviser to the racist chief attorney Jeff Sessions. Other taints on his CV include being the key author of Trump’s infamous Muslim ban, and helping to pen the president’s inaugural speech. Immigration lawyers and public health researchers have estimated that the changes could affect some 20 million people. They would mean that even people who had used the national health insurance scheme—commonly known as “Obamacare”—would be affected. Recent migrants to the US are locked out of decent jobs—from racist bosses to the arbitrary rules of the immigration system.  This means they are often forced to rely on benefits. The Trump administration has already made obtaining a “Green Card"—the right to indefinite leave to remain—more difficult. And it has also made progressing from holding a Green Card to becoming a citizen harder.

Read more: Alistair Farrow, Socialist Worker,

Chowdhury v UK: Interim Relief Granted by European Court of Human Rights

In Chowdhury v United Kingdom, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has decided to indicate to the Government of the United Kingdom that the Applicant should not be removed for the duration of the proceedings before the Court. This is a notable decision as a very small percentage of Rule 39 applications are granted by the ECtHR. Only two applications against the United Kingdom have been granted in the two years between 2015 and 2017.

History of the Case: In this case, the Applicant was accepted by the First-Tier Tribunal to be a gay man, who was held to have a subjective fear of persecution. However, the First-Tier Tribunal was not satisfied that the Applicant had established that he would be at real risk of persecution on return to Bangladesh.

Alea Begum of Duncan Lewis prepared further submissions for the Applicant on the grounds that he would be at risk were he to be removed to his home country. These submissions were refused by the by the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD). Duncan Lewis then represented the client in a judicial review application against the SSHD’s refusal of further submissions. The Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal denied the Applicant permission to challenge this decision by the SSHD and refused interim relief.

The Applicant was detained by the Home Office, and directions were set for his removal to Bangladesh. Duncan Lewis acted on a pro bono basis to make a Rule 39 application to the ECtHR. In response, the Court granted the Applicant interim relief to prevent his removal from the United Kingdom. The Applicant’s removal has since been deferred by the Home Office, and he has been released from immigration detention. Duncan Lewis continue to act for the Applicant in his substantive case before the ECtHR.

Source: Duncan Lewis,

The Enemy Between Us: How Inequality Erodes Our Mental Health

Inequality creates the social and political divisions that isolate us from each other. When people are asked what matters most for their happiness and wellbeing, they tend to talk about the importance of their relationships with family, friends and colleagues. It is their intimate world, their personal networks that mean the most to them, rather than material goods, income or wealth.

Most people probably don’t think that broader, structural issues to do with politics and the economy have anything to do with their emotional health and wellbeing, but they do. We’ve known for a long time that inequality causes a wide range of health and social problems, including everything from reduced life expectancy and higher infant mortality to poor educational attainment, lower social mobility and increased levels of violence. Differences in these areas between more and less equal societies are large, and everyone is affected by them.

In our 2009 book The Spirit Level, we hypothesised that this happens because inequality increases the grip of class and social status on us, making social comparisons more insidious and increasing the social and psychological distances between people.In our new book, The Inner Level, we bring together a robust body of evidence that shows we were on the right track: inequality eats into the heart of our immediate, personal world, and the vast majority of the population are affected by the ways in which inequality becomes the enemy between us. What gets between us and other people are all the things that make us feel ill at ease with one another, worried about how others see us, and shy and awkward in company—in short, all our social anxieties.

Read more: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson,
Open Democracy,

CBI: Control Immigration, but Keep Workers Coming to the UK

Britain's leading employers' group said on Friday 10/08/2018. it accepted that Prime Minister Theresa May would need to impose controls on EU citizens working in the UK after Brexit, but new immigration rules must not stop companies from hiring the staff they need. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) -- which has angered Brexit supporters with its pro-EU views -- acknowledged the concerns many voters have about immigration. "We accept freedom of movement is over. We accept there needs to be an element of control," said Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general. "But we are absolutely clear that immigration delivers huge economic value to the UK, so it needs to be open."

With the government working on its post-Brexit immigration policies, the CBI said in a report that a careful balance had to be struck. It said compulsory registration of EU citizens who enter the UK - which has not been required until now - would be an important step toward establishing firmer control of immigration and raising public trust that the issue was in hand. "Registering EU nationals allows the UK to ensure that they are contributing to the economy and society if they want to stay for a longer period of time. The UK will need a way to ensure that only EU nationals that are contributing stay in the longer-term," the report said. It acknowledged the difficulty and sensitivity of achieving that goal, but said "ensuring that everyone who comes to the UK is contributing is an important part of ending free movement as it has operated to date".

Read more:

UK Ancestry Visas: 5 Common Questions

If you are considering applying for a UK Ancestry visa, you may have read the basic application requirements on the Government webpage.

Whilst the requirements and published guidance tease a less onerous visa route, the Home Office do not provide specific guidance on all required evidence. It is therefore critical to understand what the Home Office are looking for, so as to avoid the financial loss of an application fee which may be taken simply to refuse your application.

It is stated that to be eligible for an ancestry visa, you must be a Commonwealth citizen and able to show that you have a grandparent born:

    in the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; or
    before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland; or
    on a British-registered ship or aircraft

You must also be 17 years or above, have enough money to support yourself and any dependants without help from public funds, and have the ability and intention to work in the UK.

Read more: McGill & Co,

Are the Home Office Reluctant to Deal With the Issue of Forced Marriage?

Recent reports have exposed claims that the Home Office is turning a blind eye to forced marriages and issuing spouses with visas, even where victims, third parties or caseworkers have raised concerns. Forced marriages are defined by the Home Office as a marriage “where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities or reduced capacity, cannot) consent to the marriage as they are pressurised or abuse is used to force them to do so. It is recognised in the UK as a form of domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights”.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that last year the Home Office received 175 enquiries from victims trying to block their spouses’ visa applications. Some 88 of these enquiries became full cases, where suspicions from case workers or third parties were made to the UK authorities. In some cases, the victims themselves came forward. Out of these 88 cases, 42 visas were still granted, with a further 10 still under consideration or under appeal.

The Home Office gave the following statement in response to the scandal: “We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. If an individual refuses to act as the sponsor for a visa application then under the immigration rules, that visa should not be issued”. The Home Office also stated that it “categorically denies” that culture or religion affects the outcome of cases. This followed allegations by a number of charities and NGOs that the Home Office are “turning a blind eye” because of cultural or religious sensitivities.

Despite forced marriage being outlawed in England and Wales in 2014, there have only been two convictions.  This is despite 3,546 reports of forced marriage between 2014 and 2016, according to a Freedom of Information request obtained by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has stated that he will do more to fight forced marriages in the UK, stating that it has no place in British society. Mr Javid has insisted that the Home Office “will be doing more to combat it and support victims. Those who force British women into marriage, be warned that we are redoubling our efforts to make sure you pay for your crimes”.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

State Racism: Policing, Institutional Collusion and Justice

The current state of racism in the UK is alarming. There is no domain where racism does not prevail: at the workplace, in schools and universities, on the streets, within public and private institutions.

A two-day conference discussing the pervasive nature of racism in contemporary Britain and how we challenge the problem effectively and collectively
The aims of this two-day conference are two-fold:

  1. To identify and discuss the pervasive nature of racism in contemporary Britain and its motivating factors and;
  2. To discuss how we challenge the problem effectively and collectively.

The conference will explore different models of resistance, placing affected communities at the heart of activity. The conference will address self-organisation, public campaigning and transformative politics with particular focus on the lessons being learnt from previous and current high profile public judicial Inquires in the hope of shaping a new future where both equality and justice can prevail and where human rights are not compromised. 
This conference is co-organised by The Monitoring Group and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. It is supported by Imran Khan and Partners and Tottenham Rights. The conference is hosted by London South Bank University, School of Law and Social Sciences.

Read more: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies,

“Supply Shock” as Fewer EU Citizens Come to the UK as a Result Of Brexit

According to a survey of 2,000 employers, UK companies are experiencing “supply shock” as fewer EU citizens are choosing to come to the UK for work and, because of this, are now struggling to fill vacancies. Gerwyn Davis of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) stated that: “The most recent official data shows that there has been a significant slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to work in the UK over the past year”. Their research also showed that companies are being forced to raise wages as the number of applicants per vacancies across all levels of skilled jobs has fallen drastically since the summer of 2017. Half of the organisations with serious recruitment problems have said that they have now increased starting salaries as a result of the drop.
The number of people moving to the UK from EU countries is at its lowest level since 2013. The net figure for long-term migration in 2017 was a mere 101,000. UK employers who have historically relied on non-UK workers to fill roles are now particularly vulnerable to the prospect of the upcoming changes to immigration policy for EU citizens. Adecco Group, which participated in the research, said: “With Brexit looming, we’re seeing a talent shortage and a more competitive marketplace. In this candidate-short landscape the pressure is on employers to not only offer an attractive salary, but also additional benefits”. In response, a government spokesperson stated: “After we leave the EU, the UK will continue to be the open country it has always been. We will have in place an immigration system that delivers control over who comes to the UK, but that welcomes the brightest and best who want to work hard and contribute”.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

No evidence that SSHD performed section 55(3) duty at any stage in this case

TL v Secretary of State for The Home Department [2018] NIQB 137 (12 December 2017)

McCloskey J

•  In this judgment I shall describe the Respondent, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as "SSHD".

•  The matter under challenge is SSHD's decision dated 05 December 2016 whereby the Applicant's human rights (Article 8 ECHR) claim was dismissed and, invoking paragraph 353 of the Immigration Rules, SSHD further decided that the threshold for a fresh claim had not been overcome. There is also a supplementary, or ancillary, decision dated 12 June 2017. The effect of the impugned decisions is that a challenge by appeal can be mounted only after the Applicant has left the United Kingdom. This is colloquially known as the "depart first appeal later" scenario.

•  There are three considerations which I would highlight.

•  The first is section 55(3) of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. As stated emphatically in JO Nigeria [2014] UKUT 00517 (IAC) this is a free standing duty. It exists independently of the substantive duty in section 55(1). Its purpose is to enhance and inform the best interests assessment which must be carried out under section 55(1). Section 55(3) is framed in imperative ("must") terms. See [6], [8] and [12] – [13] in particular of JO (Nigeria).

•  There is no evidence that SSHD has performed the section 55(3) duty at any stage in this case.

•  Second, I draw attention to the developing jurisprudence relating to out of country appeals. There are two important decisions, one of the Supreme Court and the other of the English Court of Appeal, in this context. While these decisions were made under different provisions of the immigration laws, they plainly have a bearing in the context of this case since the relevant common denominator is that they concerned decisions which, like that under challenge here, had the consequence that a right of appeal could be pursued only from abroad.

•  They concerned the differing types of certification decisions under section 94 NIAA 2002, one of which is of the "clearly unfounded" species, a close relative of the "no fresh claim" decision under paragraph 353 of the Immigration Rules (ie. this case). The recent decision of the Supreme Court in Kiarie and Byndloss [2017] UKSC 42 was concerned with the different kind of certification decision made under section 94(b). Common to both is the consequence that an appeal can be pursued only from outside the United Kingdom. The Supreme Court held that having regard to the financial, logistical and other barriers, there was no realistic prospect of the effective prosecution and presentation of an appeal from abroad, thereby infringing Article 8 ECHR, in particular, its procedural dimension, and the common law. Since SSHD could not have been satisfied, when making the impugned decisions, that the necessary facilities would be available to the Appellants, the decisions were unsustainable in law.

•  The Court of Appeal has now given judgment in four conjoined appeals of some importance: see Ashan and Others v SSHD [2017] EWCA Civ 2009. Its central conclusion from the perspective of the present case and other analogous cases currently stayed in this court is that an out of country appeal is not an effective remedy where two conditions are satisfied, namely (a) it would be necessary for the appellant to give oral evidence and (b) facilities to do so by video link from the foreign country concerned are not realistically available: see [72] – [98].

•  The decision in Ashan and Others was promulgated only days ago. One of its features is that it draws attention to the need for evidence bearing on the discrete question of how the exiled immigrant will, in a given case, conduct and participate in his appeal from abroad. This is clearly a case sensitive question.

•  The test devised in Kiarie was whether the SSHD, when making the impugned decisions, could have been satisfied that the facilities necessary for the effective pursuit of an out of country appeal would be available to the immigrants concerned. On the state of the evidence before this court, my provisional view is that SSHD could not have been thus satisfied when making either of the impugned decisions.

•  Thirdly and finally I draw attention to the impact of the decision in Paposhvili v Belgium [Application number 41738/10]. This is a landmark decision of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR which significantly dilutes the previously elevated and austere threshold applicable in Article 3 ECHR "medical" cases. The consideration that the publication of this decision post dates the main impugned decision in the present case is of no legal consequence. In passing I note that when the supplementary decision was made some seven months later, there was no appreciation of Paposhvili.

•  To conclude, the Applicant has an unanswerable case that an order quashing the impugned decisions should be made based on the section 55(3) ground. While his case based on the out of country appeal ground may be of equal merit and strength, it is unnecessary to determine this interesting issue. The Paposhvili ground was not the subject of consideration by the parties' representatives in written or oral argument and, hence, I say nothing further about it.

•  The outcome is an order under section 21 of the Judicature (NI) Act 1978 remitting the case to SSHD with a direction to reconsider same in accordance with this judgment. I consider this course preferable in furtherance of expedition and clarity and taking into account also the indication that an enlarged case is likely to be made to SSHD.