News & Views Monday 17th June to Sunday 23rd June 2019

How to Meet the “Very Compelling Circumstances” Deportation Test

The Court of Appeal has upheld the appeal against deportation of a man sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, in the process providing a good example of the kind of human rights arguments that will sway judges in this notoriously difficult area of law.

The court reiterated the high threshold that applies when a non-EEA citizen who has been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of four years or more tries to fight deportation. But the judges refused to interfere with the First-tier Tribunal’s finding that the threshold had been met in this particular case.

The case is Secretary of State for the Home Department v JG (Jamaica) [2019] EWCA Civ 982. The First-tier Tribunal had allowed a Jamaican citizen’s appeal against deportation due to his “intense” bond with his British child and the emotional and psychological damage that child would suffer if his father, who was his primary carer, was deported. The Home Office appealed, but was ultimately unsuccessful as the First-tier Tribunal judge had conducted the structured analysis required by the relevant legal provisions and reached a decision which was “reasonably open to him on the evidence” (paragraph 32).

As regular readers will be aware, the automatic deportation regime applies to any non-EEA national sentenced to at least a year in prison. If the sentence is between one year and four years then deportation will not be in the public interest where certain exceptions apply, one of which is where the effect of deportation would be unduly harsh for a relevant child.

Those sentenced to four years or more need to show that there are “very compelling circumstances, over and above” deportation being unduly harsh. In other words that it would be “extra unduly harsh”.

Read more: Freemovement,

Home Office Sending Modern Slavery Victims Back to Addresses Where They Were Abused

Victims of trafficking are being released from immigration detention back to the addresses where they were enslaved in what has been branded an “unacceptable” failure to protect vulnerable people from re-exploitation.

Lawyers said the Home Office was showing disregard for the safety of people who had been trafficked after it emerged safe housing was not being arranged for victims on their release – often leaving them with no option but to return to the location where they were abused.

In one case, a Chinese woman who was exploited as a sex slave for five years in London, was released from Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre last month and told to make her way to the address in Barking where she had previously been discovered being forced to work in the sex trade.

When a decision has been made through the national referral mechanism (NRM) – The UK asylum system offers perfect conditions for modern slavery Thousands of slavery victims waiting more than a year for decision Home Office admits it wrongly detained slavery victim for six months Home Office employing junior staff to make ‘life-or death’ decisions the UK's framework for identifying victims of modern slavery – that a person is a potential victim, they are entitled to receive specialist support which is subcontracted out to the Salvation Army. In order for arrangements to be made for that person to be transferred from a detention centre, the Home Office is expected to liaise with the charity.

However The Independent has been informed of numerous cases where the Salvation Army has not been informed, leaving vulnerable victims with no safe address to go to.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

Prisoners: Foreign National Offenders - Repatriation

Asked by Lord Hylton: To ask Her Majesty's Government, as a result of international conventions and bilateral agreements on the transfer of sentenced persons, how many people have (1) returned to the UK from any such country, and (2) been repatriated from the UK.[HL16006]

Lord Keen of Elie: Any foreign national who comes to our country and abuses our hospitality by breaking the law should be in no doubt of our determination to punish and deport them.

More than 48,000 foreign national offenders have been removed from the UK since 2010, and in the last financial year more than 5,000 were removed from prisons, immigration removal centres, and the community. Prisoner transfer is one of the mechanisms used to remove foreign national offenders. Between 1 May 2014 and 31 May 2019, 464 sentenced prisoners were transferred from England and Wales to other countries under international prisoner transfer arrangements. During the same period 233 sentenced prisoners were transferred to England and Wales. The transfer of prisoners into and out of Scotland and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter.



More Than Half of Immigration Appeals Now Successful

More than half of Home Office immigration decisions are now overturned when challenged in court, according to government figures. The data shows that 52 per cent of immigration and asylum appeals were allowed in the year to March 2019, with 23,514 people seeing their refusals overturned. This compares with 39 per cent, or 20,306, three years earlier.

Campaigners said the figures highlighted the poor quality of immigration decisions – and warned the consequences fall on people who are forced to “wait years in limbo”, often separated from their families, in detention or even deported. It comes amid a string of cases reported by The Independent in which people who have an apparent right to be in the UK have been refused status, denied entry to the UK or threatened with removal, prompting sustained public outrage.

In many cases, the decisions have been overturned by the Home Office following publication, with immigration lawyers now saying media coverage is often the only way to obtain a “fair and timely” resolution.

Chai Patel, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), said: “In the background of every case you see in the media of someone whose life was destroyed by the Home Office, there are thousands more whose cases never get any attention. These figures bring home the reality of that. 

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

DRC- Home Office Reviewing, Risk Faced By Rejected Asylum Seekers And Foreign National Offenders On Return

Deportation: Democratic Republic of Congo - Paul Blomfield:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of whether it is safe to deport nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo to that country. Paul Blomfield

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the safety of nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo who are returned to that country. Paul Blomfield.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions his officials have had with officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on issuing advice on the safety of returning nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo to that country.

Caroline Nokes: We only return those who are without a legal right to remain in the UK, including foreign national offenders, when we and, where the individual has exercised a right of appeal, the courts deem it is safe to do so, on a case by case basis. We are currently reviewing our assessment of risk faced by rejected asylum seekers and foreign national offenders on return to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). An updated country policy and information note setting out our position will be published in due course. The Home Office has regular discussions with the Foreign Office on a range of issues and has on a number of occasions discussed the subject of returns to the DRC to establish as full an assessment of the situation as possible.

EDM 2485: Refugee Resettlement Schemes

That this House notes that there are an estimated 25 million refugees and 3 million asylum seekers around the world today; further notes that the Government committed to resettle 20,000 refugees in the UK by 2020 under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and 3,000 more under the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) and that, as of 31 March 2019, 15,977 people had been resettled under the VPRS, including 7,966 children, and 1,410 under the VCRS, including 823 children; observes that the Government also committed to relocate 480 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 and that less than half that number have been relocated so far; believes that the UK must continue to provide safe, legal routes to sanctuary for refugees; and calls on the Government urgently to fulfil the rest of its commitment under Section 67, to guarantee the future of the VPRS after 2020 and to commit to resettling a further 10,000 refugee children in the UK over the next 10 years.

House of Commons, Tabled 13 June 2019,

Private Firms Rake In Millions as People Forced to Pay ‘Extortionate’ Fees To Apply For UK Status

Private firms have raked in millions of pounds through the Home Office’s newly outsourced visa system as people are forced to pay “extortionate” fees and travel long distances to apply for UK status. Immigration lawyers have warned legal migrants risk being “thrown into the hostile environment” after the visa processing service was outsourced to French firm Sopra Steria last November. Those affected include some people applying for EU settled status ahead of Brexit – despite the government stating that this application is free.

While visa applicants could previously go to their local post office to upload documents and provide biometric data such as fingerprints, they must now attend one of just six “core centres” across the country which offer a free service, or another 51 which charge a fee starting from £60. Sopra Steria also offers a “premium service” through a partner company called BLS, where appointments start at £200. The service made more than £2m between January and April 2019, according to data obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,