News & Views Monday 16th September to Sunday 22nd September 2019


Home Office 'Rushed to Penalize' Students Accused of Cheating

The Home Office “rushed to penalize” international students accused of cheating in English language tests without checking the reliability of evidence, parliament’s spending watchdog has concluded. The public accounts committee has compared the way the department treated more than 30,000 international students accused of breaking the rules of an official English language test to the Windrush scandal.

A report from MPs has concluded the Home Office responded with a “flawed reaction”, revoking visas before verifying evidence, which led to “injustice and hardship for many thousands of international students”. About 2,500 students have been forcibly removed from the UK after being accused of cheating in the exam run by third parties on behalf of non-profit organisation the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Another 7,200 left the country after being told they faced detention and removal if they stayed. Many have tried to prove their innocence in court: 12,500 appeals have been heard and at least 3,600 people have won their cases.

The report said: “It is entirely unacceptable that, despite now recognising that hundreds of people still maintain their innocence, the Home Office has not acted to put right the wrongs caused by its actions. As with the Windrush scandal, the Home Office has once again not done enough to identify the innocent and potentially vulnerable people who have been affected.”

Read more: Rajeev Syal, Guardian,

Child Immigration Detention is Not Only Wrong, It Is Ineffective

On, Monday 16th September 2019 the United Nations Network on Migration strongly reiterates its position that child immigration detention must be ended in every region of the world. Detention of children for immigration purposes - whether they are traveling alone or with their families – has been recognized as a child rights violation and can be highly damaging to their physical and psychological health and wellbeing. Detention of children based on their migratory status is thus never in their best interests. Community-based programmes, case management and other human rights-based alternatives have proven highly effective and all governments should work to replace immigration detention for children and families with appropriate reception and care arrangements.

Studies consistently show that detention and family separation are traumatic experiences that have a profound negative impact on children’s health and long-term cognitive and physical development. This harm can occur even when the detention is of short duration, regardless of the conditions in which children are held, and even when children are detained with their families. Children in detention are at risk of suffering depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic problems such as insomnia and nightmares. Recent reports from around the world consistently and repeatedly illustrate how damaging detention is for children. The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Migrant Workers also issued authoritative guidance in 2017 affirming that “children should never be detained for reasons related to their or their parents’ migration status and States should expeditiously and completely cease or eradicate the immigration detention of children”.

Read more: United Nations Network on Migration

Lack of Accommodation Does Not Prevent Claim For Unlawful Detention

In DM (Tanzania) v Home Office[2019] EWHC 2351 (Admin), the High Court ruled that the lack of accommodation for foreign national offenders cannot be a defence in a claim for unlawful detention. The case involved DM’s deportation for a sexual offence for which he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. The period of imprisonment had already been served on remand but from 6 July 2018, DM had been detained under the Immigration Act 1971 on the grounds that he was due to be removed imminently. After sundry procedure including an asylum claim and bail applications, DM was granted bail on 26 September 2018 subject to being provided with approved accommodation by the Home Office. The problem was that he was not actually released until 3 January 2019, almost three months later. Aggrieved, DM challenged the legality of his detention between 26 September 2018 and 3 January 2019 when he was eventually released.

Read more: Freemovement,

Nigerian Man Dies in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC)

Nigerian Man Dies in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC)

An investigation has been launched after a man died at a detention centre next to Heathrow airport. Oscar Okwurime, from Nigeria, died at Harmondsworth on Thursday. The cause of death is not yet known. The Home Office said the police, the coroner and the prisons and probation ombudsman were investigating. Harmondsworth, together with its neighbour Colnbrook, is the biggest detention centre in Europe. Friends on Okwurime’s wing said he had received a ticket for a charter flight to Nigeria due to take off next Tuesday. “He was terrified when he received the ticket and was so stressed about it,” said one detainee.

Others said tensions were running high at the centre and there was enormous distress about Okwurime’s death and apprehension about the impending charter flight. Detainees said they were particularly fearful about the possibility of being restrained on the flight. The Guardian has revealed that hundreds of people have been forcibly removed from the UK in restraints in 2018-19.Detainees staged a p rotest about the death at 10am on Friday and passed photos of the demonstration to the Guardian. On a bedsheet used as a banner, detainees wrote “RIP Oscar Okwurime”.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

UK Deportation of Three Men Halted After Detention Centre Death

The deportation of three men from the UK to Nigeria on Tuesday night was halted by the high court because they may be able to provide evidence about the death of a man in a detention centre. Oscar Okwurime died in Harmondsworth detention centre next to Heathrow airport last Thursday.

In an order made in the high court on Tuesday preventing the three men flying, Mr Justice Butler said: “There is a serious issue that there should not be a removal of persons for whom there are grounds to believe that they may have material evidence to give in relation to the death of Oscar Okwurime.”

However, he refused to accede to the request of lawyers representing some of the detainees who were in detention with Okwurime to widen the order to others due to fly on Tuesday who may also have information about his death. A second application to broaden the injunction to this bigger group by lawyers representing some of the detainees before Mr Justice Jacobs on Tuesday evening also failed. The lawyers are making an emergency out of hours application to the court of appeal.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has called for an independent public inquiry into the death of Okwurime at Harmondsworth which, together with the neighbouring Colnbrook site, is the biggest such detention centre in Europe.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Migrant Women Who Miscarriaged Wrongly Charged £7,000 For Antenatal Care

Migrant women who have miscarriages are being wrongly charged £7,000 for antenatal care despite never going into labour, doctors and campaigners have warned. Rules specify overseas women who are expecting a baby must be charged for NHS care – with charges starting at around £7,000 but potentially doubling if there are complications with the pregnancy.

Frontline service providers say pregnant migrant women are being subjected to a range of “troubling problems” linked to the NHS charging system – with women also being incorrectly billed twice for one pregnancy when they change hospitals.

They warned women are scared to access antenatal care for fear of being detained or deported and some women are giving birth at home unattended – arguing the policy of charging for NHS care is ultimately placing women and their babies’ lives at risk. Women who are chargeable for their maternity care include destitute women in the asylum system and women who have fled domestic abuse and sexual exploitation.

Read more: Maya Oppenheim, Independent,

Why the Left Should Argue for More Immigration – But Not Open Borders

The US needs more immigrants to maintain current levels of economic growth and welfare provision – but that doesn’t mean unlimited migration. The idea of open borders underpins many of the American left’s current stances on immigration. Although this isn’t always stated explicitly, it explains both the vehement opposition to Trump’s proposed wall on the border with Mexico (whose construction actually began under Bill Clinton) and the insistence on rolling back regulation on immigration flows.

Yet this is a weak position, for at least two reasons. First, states presuppose borders. Failing to control borders is not an immigration policy, but the lack of one. It’s also a position likely to reinforce the already widespread perception that immigration flows are “out of control”.

Second, the case for open borders relies on premises that are more usually associated with the libertarian right than the liberal or social-democratic left. The idea is that allowing the “invisible hand” of the market to determine where people live will benefit everyone because workers will naturally move to where there is more demand for them. But the left has historically been sceptical of that premise – holding instead that markets need to be regulated to lead to socially optimal outcomes.

A stronger case in favour of immigration – that’s also more coherent with the left’s traditional values – can be built on demographic data. This is not something the American left has paid much attention to so far. Yet, the evidence is clear: net of immigration, the US population is both shrinking and ageing at an alarming rate. If the trend continues, it threatens both the economic vitality of the country and widely cherished welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which require a young and economically active tax base. The right’s response is to call for Americans to have more children. But this only makes sense on the chauvinistic assumption that immigration is a threat for the country’s civic culture. Immigration is a faster and more efficient way to replenish the country’s work-force.

Read more: Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti, Guardian,

Asylum Research Consultancy Country of Information Update Vol. 201

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 3 September and 16 September 2019.

Download the full report: