USA Detains Nearly 70,000 Migrant Children In Record High
The Trump administration detained an unprecedented 69,9550 migrant children in 2019, an increase in some 42 per cent from the previous year, official data shows. In line with Donald Trump’s family separation policy, more children were detained away from their parents in the US this year than in any other country on Earth, according to UN researchers. Under the administration’s strict immigration policies, children also spent more time in detention and away from their family than in previous years, despite the government’s own acknowledgement that it can cause them serious harm.
A few months after Mr Trump took office, the federal agency was caring for about 2,700 children, reuniting them with awaiting relatives or sponsors within about a month. This June, that topped 13,000, and they stayed in custody for about two months. “There was despair everywhere,” said one Honduran teenager detained for four months before reuniting with his mother. “There was something there that made us feel desperate. It was freedom. We wanted to be free.”
Another young Honduran, detained when he was 16 for more than a year, said he saw his peers harm themselves as a result: “They would cry sometimes, alone, or they would hit themselves against the wall. I thought that was because of them being here for such a long time.”
Read more: Andy Gregory, Independent, https://is.gd/nrYFPr
Death of Immigration Detainee Carlington Spencer - Morton Hall IRC Staff Failures
The inquest into the death of Carlington Spencer, known to his family as ‘Jammy’, concluded on Friday (8 November). Carlington was an immigration detainee at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre. The inquest jury found that he died on 3 October 2017 as a consequence of a stroke, and identified series of failings which contributed to his death, including:
- inadequate management of his type 1 diabetes;
- numerous missed opportunities by discipline staff to sufficiently monitor Mr Spencer and;
- failure of medical staff to identify symptoms of stroke and take appropriate actions in a timely manner.
Between 3.45pm on 28 September 2017 and 12.45 pm on 29 September, fellow immigration detainees repeatedly brought to the attention of discipline staff that Carlington was suffering from a stroke or other physical ailment, not connected with consumption the consumption of the synthetic drug known as ‘Spice’. The jury concluded that there was a lack of communication between healthcare staff and officers and that staff were dismissive of detainee’s concerns about Carlington’s health.
Read more: INQUEST, https://is.gd/UO8A02
Asylum Research Consultancy Country of Information Update Vol. 205
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 29 October and 11 November 2019.
Download the full document: https://is.gd/MVK7H0
J O v Home Secretary (Deportation for Criminal Conviction - Stopped)
1. The appellant is a citizen of Nigeria, born in January 1988. He came to the UK when he was 8 years old, in 1996. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in March 2004 when he was 16 years old. He left school with a number of good GCSE passes, and obtained a BTEC diploma in business studies at college. At the beginning of 2006 he was applying to universities to study for a degree. He was also involved with youth groups who were campaigning against knife crime having suffered the loss of a friend to a knife-crime killing.
2. On 18 th February 2006 the appellant murdered a young man by hitting him (described by the sentencing judge as a "karate type blow") on the neck with intent to cause grievous bodily harm which caused him to fall to the ground, bang his head and thereby sustain a brain injury from which he died 10 days later. The assault took place in the context of an altercation between two groups of youths but there was no indication that there was any gang involvement by the appellant. The appellant pleaded guilty to manslaughter but was found guilty of murder. On 6th October 2006 the Central Criminal Court imposed a life sentence on the appellant. It was found that the appellant had not been acting in self-defence but took into account in his favour a lack of aggravating features to the crime; the fact the appellant was 18 years old; his lack of premeditation; his lack of intention to kill; and his remorse. A minimum prison term of 11 years and 169 days was initially imposed, but this was reduced to 8 years and 169 days by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. The appellant was moved to open prison conditions following a decision of the Parole Board in December 2012 as he was at low risk of re-conviction, although he had later to be transferred back to closed conditions due to his being subject to deportation proceedings. The appellant's prison sentence came to an end on 4 th September 2015 when the Parole Board decided that he posed a low risk of reoffending, albeit that if he did reoffend his risk of serious harm to the public was medium. He was then detained under Immigration Act powers but granted bail to his mother's address on 21 st September 2015. The supervisory element of his life licence from the Probation Service came to an end after he had spent four years in the community.
5. The matter came before us to remake the appeal. We heard oral evidence from the appellant, his partner J, and from an independent social worker, Ms C Brown, and a forensic psychologist Ms J Lackenby. We also had a substantial amount of documentary evidence in a core and supplementary bundles provided by the appellant, and took note of the reasoning set out in the reasons for refusal letter from the respondent.
37. We find, on the basis of J's credible evidence and her GP notes, that she was previously sectioned because she had a mental health crisis due to her inability to deal with significant changes in her life. Deportation of the appellant would be a very profound and negative change, the removal of her source of stability in her view and that of the independent social worker Ms Brown, at a point in her life when she is under very significant physical and emotional stress as the mother of one small child and pregnant with two more babies. J's evidence is that she became very significantly distressed and unable to cope when the appellant was taken away from her for short periods of immigration detention prior to the birth of JJO notwithstanding that she would have been receiving mental health support at that time. J's evidence is that she would have a breakdown in the event of the appellant's deportation. We accept that this is likely. It is corroborated by Ms Brown's evidence. We have had particular regard to and attach significant weight to what Ms Brown says in her report at para 5.6-5. 8 about the consequences of the appellant's deportation in the light of J's mental health and the dire consequences for JJO. J is a former looked after child, who was let down and latterly received an apology and compensation from Social Services, and who would, in the opinion of Ms Brown, which we adopt, find it difficult to reach out to them for help with her own children. We find that notwithstanding the mental health support that J receives that the deportation of the appellant would be such a profound stressor on her because of her vulnerability and the stress of her current circumstances that it would lead to a major deterioration in her mental health. The inevitable result of this would be that J's ability to parent JJO would be seriously compromised to such an extent that she would, in all probability, not be able to care for him. We have no hesitation in this case in finding that the unduly harsh test is met, as the loss of two loving parents in quick succession would be catastrophic for this young child.
38. We were not addressed in submissions by either party in respect of s.117B. However, we have put into the balance that this is a precarious family life case which is a factor weighing against the appellant. However, we conclude that the appellant has a very strong Article 8 case which amounts to very compelling circumstances in the context of the statutory regime; notwithstanding that he has committed a very serious offence. Whilst there is a very strong public interest in his deportation due to his conviction for murder and his life sentence for which he served over 8 years in prison, and whilst we acknowledge that he has not shown he himself would have very significant obstacles to integration in Nigeria we are satisfied that the catastrophic impact of deportation on his British citizen child, JJO, due to the significant impact on his highly vulnerable and unwell partner, J, combined with the best interests of his other child, NRO, in his remaining in the UK; the fact that he has spent most of his childhood in the UK; the length of his lawful residence and his degree of integration and extent of his positive private life ties in the UK, which include his commendable work against knife crime, make a very compelling and truly exceptional case that means that his deportation would be a disproportionate interference with his Article 8 ECHR right to respect to family and private life.
1. The making of the decision of the First-tier Tribunal involved the making of an error on a point of law.
2. The decision of the First-tier Tribunal was set aside
3. We re-make the decision in the appeal by allowing the appeal on Article 8 ECHR grounds.
Brexit Could Mean Homelessness for EU Children in Care, Says Charity
Thousands of children in care whose immigration status will be affected by Brexit could find themselves in the UK unlawfully, facing homelessness, immigration detention or deportation, an immigration legal charity has said.
The Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) warned that the EU settlement scheme for European nationals living in the UK who want to stay here after Brexit is designed for people leading ordered, uncomplicated lives who can easily access ID documents, not children with disrupted life histories who are less likely to have proof of nationality or previous addresses. Some original documents may remain with their parents, who may not be in the UK, some social workers may not know which documents were needed or how to get them.
The charity attempted to work with local authorities over two days to help EU national looked-after children and care leavers to apply for the scheme, but were unable to make a single application. Two of the children they attempted to help were unlikely to ever have the required evidence, despite most of them meeting the requirements of “settled status” or British citizenship.
The charity is calling for the Home Office to adopt an automatic system of settled status and the option to register for a document to prove it. They also say fees for citizenship applications should be waived for children in care and care leavers, to ease the financial burden on local authorities. The report also urges children’s services and leaving care teams, which have a duty as corporate parents, to seek immigration advice on behalf of the children who will be affected.
Read more: Maya Wolfe-Robinson, Guardian, https://is.gd/BEgZ2A
False Representations As Grounds For Refusal
The Court of Appeal ruled earlier this year that to refuse migrants with tax discrepancies can be lawful – but that the Home Office had been wrong to refuse the application on false representation grounds without giving the applicant an opportunity to respond to an allegation of deception or dishonesty.
Last month, the Home Office reacted to this court decision by issuing new policy guidance. The new guidance indicates that the Home Office will now notify the applicant when it is considering refusing an application on the basis of dishonest false representation – whether in the present application or in a previous one. The Home Office will also set out what the allegation is and provide the applicant with an opportunity to respond to that allegation. The policy states that the applicant may not necessarily know about the information or evidence that the Home Office has considered (for example, information obtained directly from another Government department), but that they should in any event be given a chance to provide an explanation.
The new policy has already been heavily criticised as prejudicing applicants lodging their applications from outside the UK. The guidance states that the Home Office will provide such a notification only if a refusal may change the applicant’s circumstances, although this effectively means that applicants from outside the UK will never be entitled to receive such notifications because a refusal would not affect their current status – they would simply remain where they are.
Even though the new guidance represents a step forward in terms of protecting applicant’s rights, we are yet to see how effective it will be in practice. It is clear that the wording of the Home Office policy is far from perfect and there is every expectation that it will be challenged.
Posted by: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/B0Nkwp
Deportation: Ghosts Of Convictions Past
Deportation is a statutory power given to the Home Secretary to order the removal of a person from the UK if that person is not a British citizen and they are deemed not to be ‘conducive to the public good’. The UK Borders Act 2007 states that a deportation order must be made against a ‘foreign criminal’ unless certain exemptions apply.
The exemption relied upon most commonly is the assertion that removal from the UK would breach that individual’s Human Rights (particularly the right to family and private life). Prior to 2012, private or family life rights were weighed against the public interest using the Razgar proportionality test, and a wide variety of factors would have been taken into consideration.
This approach lead to significant debate and criticism, not only because foreign criminals were being given the right to appeal deportation decisions, but also because (admittedly few) foreign criminals were winning these appeals on seemingly tenuous private and family life grounds.
The government’s argument was that the rights of the individual were not sufficiently balanced against the public interest, with too much weight being given to unsubstantiated and weak human rights claims, resulting in foreign criminals remaining in the UK. As a result, new rules were drafted in July 2012 to define the qualities which a family or private life claim would need in order to outweigh the public interest in deportation cases. The updated rules also asserted that any foreign criminal who had received a prison sentence of 4 years or more would not be able to rely on the private or family life exceptions, and would only be able to quash a deportation decision if “very compelling circumstances” were proved.
The recent case of OH (Algeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1763 called into question whether a limitation period should be applicable to criminal convictions which were incurred historically.
Read more: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/4wHlmv
Asylum Seekers: Home Office Taking 'Substantially Longer' On Claims
Decisions on asylum applications are taking "substantially" longer than they were five years ago, data suggests. In 2014, 80% of applicants received an initial decision within six months, compared with around 25% now, according to the Migration Observatory. There is also an uneven distribution of claimants, with 150 councils failing to support any, while Glasgow has 4,000.
The Home Office says it is committed to ensuring claims are considered without unnecessary delay. In 2019, it dropped its six-month target in order to prioritise cases involving vulnerable people and for those where initial decisions are reconsidered. The Migration Observatory, which is based at the University of Oxford, found that in the last quarter of 2018 an initial decision was made within six months in 25% of cases. In the second quarter of 2014, that figure was 80%.
As of 30 June this year, just under 32,000 people seeking asylum were awaiting an initial decision on their case, with just under 17,000 of these applicants waiting for more than six months. Earlier this year it emerged the government had dropped a target to deal with most asylum cases within six months. Now it's becoming clear why: The target was consistently being missed and had become virtually meaningless.
Read more: BBC News, https://is.gd/enit9P
Home Secretary V BC - Dismissed
1. For ease of reference, we refer to the Appellant in these proceedings before the Upper Tribunal as the Secretary of State and the Respondent as the Claimant.
2. This is a challenge by the Secretary of State against the decision of First-tier Tribunal Judge O'Rourke ("the judge"), promulgated on 29 March 2019, in which he allowed the Claimant's appeal against the Secretary of State's decision of 23 November 2018, refusing his protection and human rights claims.
3. These claims had been made by way of further representations submitted to the Secretary of State on 26 September 2018, following the Claimant's previous unsuccessful appeal before the First-tier Tribunal, which had been dismissed by a decision promulgated on 26 April 2010 ( AA/03597/2010). In essence, the Claimant's "new" case was that she had been a prominent activist for the MDC in the United Kingdom over the course of time and that her profile would place her at risk on return to Zimbabwe.
33. In our view, even if the judge had directed himself with greater precision to CM and the issue of internal relocation, it is extremely likely that his conclusion on the issue would have remained unchanged. Indeed, not only would that conclusion have been clearly open to him; on the basis of the findings of fact, he would have been inevitably driven to it.
34. Finally, we turn to the judge's conclusion that the appeal was to be allowed on "human rights grounds". It is unclear as to what particular Article of the ECHR he was relying upon. If he was simply saying that the risk to the Claimant of persecution meant that she would also be exposed to Article 3-treatment, this would be wholly unobjectionable. If, however, the judge was purporting to allow the appeal on Article 8 grounds, we would accept that his analysis and reasons are deficient. On the second of the two possibilities, our conclusion on the primary issue of the protection claim renders any error in respect of Article 8 entirely immaterial.
35. We have maintained the anonymity order made by the First-tier Tribunal.Notice of Decision The making of the decision of the First-tier Tribunal did not involve the making of an error on a point of law. The decision of the First-tier Tribunal shall stand. The Secretary of State's appeal to the Upper Tribunal is dismissed.