News & Views Monday 2nd September to Sunday 8th September 2019


Home Office Planning to End Family Reunion for Children After Brexit

The Home Office is preparing to end the current system of family reunification for asylum-seeking children if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Guardian has learned.
The government has privately briefed the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other NGOs that open cases may be able to progress, but a no-deal Brexit would mean no new applications after 1 November from asylum-seeking children to be reunited with relatives living in the UK. Even if there is a deal, the future of family reunion is not certain.

Lawyers and campaigners say they will be trying to get through as many claims as possible in the next two months, warning that the impact on migrant children stranded alone in countries such as Greece and Italy could be “fatal” as more head for the Channel to try to cross to the UK irregularly.

A spokesman for the UNHCR said: “[We understand] that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Dublin Regulation, which allows for the transfer of asylum-seeking children and adults within the EU to join family members, will no longer apply to the UK.

Read more: Harriet Grant, Guardian,

Chaos and Confusion at the Home Office

The new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has recently been reported as saying that the Government will abruptly end freedom of movement on Brexit day, 31 October 2019, if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

The shocking announcement contradicts previous government plans to introduce transitional arrangements, providing a bridge between free movement rights and the introduction of new domestic immigration laws.

It appears that the Home Secretary’s stated position may have been ‘off script’. Since reports emerged at the weekend, the Home Office has backtracked, sending out mass communications to EU nationals in the UK on 21 August 2019. The communication seeks to reassure EU nationals following “reports in the media and on social media regarding plans to end freedom of movement after we leave the EU”.

The communication confirms that “all EU citizens and their family members in the UK still have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, even in the event of a no-deal exit. Furthermore, if someone who is eligible for status is not in the UK when we leave the EU, they will still be free to enter the UK as they are now.” This contradictory information is likely to cause further confusion and anxiety amongst EU nationals concerned about their rights and future in the UK.
The new Home Secretary’s absurd and impractical plans add further uncertainty for the millions of EU nationals and their family members living in the UK and highlight the shambolic handling of Brexit by the Home Office.

Read more: Bindmans,

 Priti Patel: Leaving the EU: Immigration System

After Brexit, the Government will take back control by introducing a new, fairer immigration system that prioritises skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they come from. Yesterday we commissioned the independent migration advisory committee to review the benefits of a points-based system and what best practice can be learnt from other international comparators, including the Australian immigration system.

In a no-deal scenario, free movement as it currently stands will end at 11pm on 31 October. The UK will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. EU citizens will be subject to stricter criminality checks and further changes will be introduced to show that the UK has left the EU. I am today publishing a policy statement setting out these changes, and further information will be published in due course.

Read more: House of Commons, Written Statements,

RJM v Home Secretary

1. By my decision promulgated on 15 March 2019 I set aside the decision of the First-tier Tribunal. I now remake that decision.

2. The argument advanced by Ms Fitzsimmons is that there is a real risk that the appellant's removal from the UK would breach the UK's obligations under either the Refugee Convention or the Qualification Directive because of the risk he would face on return to Kabul as a Hazara with mental health problems.

3. Ms Fitzsimmons relied on a substantial body of recent objective evidence concerning the circumstances faced by civilians in general, and Hazaras in particular, in Afghanistan. This included, amongst other things, reports from a country expert Tim Foxley dated 17 September 2018 and 8 April 2019, a UNHCR report on Afghanistan dated 30 August 2018, a Country Policy Information Note concerning Hazaras in Afghanistan dated August 2018, a UNAMA annual report on Afghanistan dated February 2019 and an EASO country guidance on Afghanistan dated June 2018. She also relied on a medico-legal report prepared by Dr Burman-Roy dated 10 April 2019 which described the appellant as suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

4. It is not necessary for me to consider the evidence adduced by the appellant because Mr Walker, after hearing Ms Fitzsimonds make her submissions, accepted that there was sufficient evidence to show that the appellant, because of his particular circumstances, would be at risk of serious harm in Afghanistan. Given this concession by Mr Walker - and that the submissions of Ms Fitzsimonds were not opposed -the appellant's protection claim is allowed.

5. I have made an anonymity order in this matter.

Direction Regarding Anonymity - Rule 14 of the Tribunal Procedure (Upper Tribunal) Rules 2008

Unless and until a Tribunal or court directs otherwise, the appellant is granted anonymity. No report of these proceedings shall directly or indirectly identify him or any member of their family. This direction applies both to the appellant and to the respondent. Failure to comply with this direction could lead to contempt of court proceedings.


Dozens of Areas Across UK Would Have Suffered Population Decline Without Immigrants

Research by think tank Global Future found that without the arrival of migrants between 2001 and 2016, public services in 57 local authorities would have been starved of staff and funds due to a shrinking population, sending the communities into decline. Nine local areas, including Southampton, Barking, Dagenham and Slough, would have suffered at least 5 per cent population decline without immigrants, while 130 local authorities would have suffered a working-age population decline, according to the report.

A shrinking, ageing population hurts public services and local employers, encouraging more people to leave and creating a “vicious cycle” which has led to decline in many parts of the world, such as small towns and cities across America’s Rust Belt, it said.

The report’s author, Fergus Peace, said preventing population decline was one of the key benefits of immigration, but that it was “hardly recognised” in public debate. “Dozens of local authorities in every part of the country would be at risk of spiralling decline if it weren’t for the migrants who have helped keep local populations stable,” he added. “But it won’t continue without an approach that encourages immigration to the areas that need it most. Current policy does the opposite, channelling migrants to London and the other big cities. As the government reviews our immigration system, they must make sure the path is open for migrants to settle in other parts of the country.”

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Hundreds of EU Citizens Rightfully Use Windrush Scheme to Stay in UK

More than 800 EU citizens have been granted the right to remain in the UK using a system intended for those affected by the Windrush scandal.

Many are using it because of a lack of trust in the government's main EU settlement scheme, which MPs have said is "blighted" by technical issues.

Unlike the Windrush scheme, it does not provide a physical ID card showing a person's indefinite right to stay. The Home Office said it gives people "secure digital status". It added that the settlement scheme "protects the rights of EU citizens in UK law".

The Windrush scheme was set up after individuals arriving from Commonwealth countries between 1948 and 1971 were wrongly told they were in the UK illegally, despite living in the country for decades. But the application system is open to anyone who arrived, or whose parents arrived, before 1989.

Read more: BBC News,

Rise in EU Citizens Not Getting UK Settled Status Causes Alarm

A sharp rise in the proportion of EU citizens not considered eligible for settled status has caused alarm among campaign groups as the rush to secure the right to stay in the country gathers pace ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit.

The settled status scheme has been running since March for EU nationals living in the UK to establish their permanent right to live in the UK. In his first House of Commons speech Boris Johnson emphasised that applicants could expect “absolute certainty for the right to live and remain” and said: “I repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us.”

But since the scheme began the proportion of people being granted pre-settled status rather than settled status – and therefore finding themselves in a more precarious position, without the guaranteed permanent right to remain – has risen from 32% during the testing phase up to 34% in the month after the national launch in March, and to 42% in July.

Read more: Amelia Gentleman, Guardian,

Home Secretary v William Kpato

1. This is an appeal brought by the Secretary of State against the decision of the First-tier Tribunal allowing the appeal of the respondent, hereinafter "the claimant" against the decision of the Secretary of State refusing him leave to remain on human rights grounds.

2. Essentially the grounds present a two-pronged attack.

3. The first is, I find, clearly without merit. It alleges procedural unfairness and that is something the Tribunal will always look at very seriously. It alleges that the Presenting Officer was unfairly prevented from pursuing a number of lines of cross-examination. More than that it is not specified. The nature of the prevention is not clear but, still more significantly for present purposes, there is nothing in the grounds to indicate what would have been pursued, and what would have been put, if, as alleged, the line of questioning had been restricted. I find that a very important omission because it means that the grounds wholly fail to address the question of materiality.

4. The second prong possibly does not make the best of the underlying complaint that the Secretary of State might have. That is not the fault of Ms Everett's who must make the best of the grounds that have already been drawn. The ground claims that no proper regard was had for the expert evidence. That is unsustainable. It is patently clear that regard was had and no other criticism is made of the approach to that evidence and the conclusion reached.

5. It follows therefore that there is nothing of substance in these grounds when they are looked at with the care and assisted consideration that is possible a hearing if not always when a permission application is determined. Ms Everett wholly properly and professionally decided that she could do no more than draw them to my attention and leave matters there.

6. This case has not been made out and I dismiss the Secretary of State's appeal.


Asylum Research Consultancy Country of Information Update Vol. 200

This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 19 August and 2 September 2019.