Fresh Blow to “No Recourse to Public Funds” Scheme
Rules restricting migrants’ access to benefits are back in the spotlight following a new High Court decision, which found that aspects of the “no recourse to public funds” (NRPF) scheme fail to protect the rights of children.
The case of ST (a child, by his Litigation Friend VW) & VW v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1085 (Admin) focused specifically on the approach to NRPF in Appendix FM. This is the section of the Immigration Rules applicable to the family members of British citizens and those with long-term residence rights.
The starting point under Appendix FM is that an NRPF condition will “normally” be attached to leave granted under this section of the rules. But paragraph GEN 1.11A states that the condition must not be imposed where the applicant has provided: (a) satisfactory evidence that the applicant is destitute as defined in section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; or (b) satisfactory evidence that there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of a child of a parent in receipt of a very low income.
Read more: Freemovemenrt, https://is.gd/Muxudf
Immigration System Failure: Where Did It All Go Wrong?
On the face of it, the current immigration ‘system’ does not resemble a true system at all. A member of the public reading newspaper headlines about the latest immigration controversy; a migrant trying to understand what documents to include with an application; a lawyer attempting to explain the nonsensical requirements; a civil servant puzzling over a conflict between a law and a policy; or a judge trying in vain to discern some sort of purpose to it all: every one of these would question whether there is any intelligent design behind the shambles. Applications by non-citizens to enter or remain in the UK are governed by a cobbled-together conglomeration of incomprehensible and outdated laws, criteria that are set out in constantly shifting so-called ‘rules’ and apparently randomly privatised services delivered by the lowest bidder. Immigration laws, rules and procedures appear to have evolved chaotically in response to short-term political crises and economic pressures, with very little in the way of strategic planning.
The Home Office, the government department responsible for immigration, was memorably described as ‘not fit for purpose’ by then Home Secretary John Reid in 2006 and, if anything, its reputation has only deteriorated since. But to see only accident and misfortune is to miss an important point. Politicians and civil servants are not naive or powerless, nor has this ramshackle construction evolved of its own accord. There are architects and engineers behind it all and the broad way in which the present system operates is the result of deeply ingrained thinking, long-term policies and conscious choices. Sometimes those choices may have been decisions not to act, but that in no way reduces responsibility for the predictable consequences of inaction.
Read more: Freemovemenrt, https://is.gd/6eFDxQ
Playing the Refugee Convention - Stop the Government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’
Harder process, punitive conditions - With the public consultation closing on 6 May, it is vital to respond and to call out the illegality, impracticality and immorality of the asylum proposals in the government’s ‘new plan for immigration’. The proposals use the gaps in the Refugee Convention to turn it from a beacon of refuge for those seeking safety to an instrument of torture. For it follows a path which is becoming well-trodden in the global North, unpicking refugee rights for all but a small number of ‘official’ refugees, and creating for the rest what has been described as an ‘enforcement archipelago’ – carceral ‘sites without rights’ where genuine asylum is impossible.
In essence, the proposals involve making the refugee determination process even harder, making the conditions asylum seekers face while going through the process even more unpleasant – and withholding rights set out in the Refugee and Human Rights Conventions from those recognised as refugees.
Read more: Frances Weber, IRR, https://is.gd/OVPYIO
The Governments New Plan for Immigration, can be read here: https://is.gd/l1JnDF
Boy Wins Case Against Home Office Policy of No Recourse to Public Funds
A five-year-old boy has won a case against the Home Office as high court judges declared the government’s “no recourse to public funds” (NRPF) policy unlawful for the second time in a year because it drives some families into destitution and breaches the duty to safeguard child welfare. Thousands of children living in poverty are likely to benefit from the ruling.
The British boy and his Zimbabwean-born mother, who cannot be identified, argued that the NRPF policy denied families like theirs access to the welfare safety net. As a result of Thursday’s ruling, children with low-earning migrant parents should be allowed access to essential state support such as housing benefit and universal credit that has previously been denied to them.
Lawyers representing the boy argued that the Home Office policy was unlawful because many children with migrant parents cannot access the welfare safety net, which provides protection from homelessness, hunger and destitution.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/LAl6jL
Home Office to Resume Evicting Some Asylum Seekers ‘With Immediate Effect’
The Home Office is starting the process of evicting some asylum seekers from their accommodation “with immediate effect” after a pause of almost a year because of the pandemic, according to internal documents seen by the Guardian. Charities and human rights campaigners have condemned the decision as inhumane and warned that it could lead to a rise in people sleeping rough and sofa surfing, and, as a consequence, an increase in coronavirus cases. It is understood that Public Health England has expressed concerns about the increased Covid risk that homelessness can create, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
It is thought that in the coming months the Home Office will target thousands of asylum seekers for eviction and deportation. Tim Naor Hilton, interim chief executive of the charity Refugee Action, said: “Kicking people out on the streets at any time is appalling, but in a pandemic it’s reckless and inhumane. Providing safe and habitable accommodation and preventing poverty is the very least the government can do for people who come to this country seeking refuge.” There are understood to be about 60,000 asylum seekers supported by the Home Office. The majority are housed in what is known as section 95 accommodation. The Home Office says it will be evicting those whose cases have been refused.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/jEDoV0
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - May 2021
Deteriorated Situations, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Benin, Nigeria, India (non-Kashmir), Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Israel/Palestine.
Conflict Risk Alerts for May: Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan
Crisi Watch monthly conflict tracker notes deteriorations in 14 countries and conflict areas in April: Violent unrest erupted in capital Belfast and other cities against backdrop of rising unionist anger over controversial Northern Ireland Protocol. Violence further intensified across Nigeria, notably in Borno and Zamfara states, leaving hundreds killed and tens of thousands displaced. In Ethiopia, intercommunal clashes escalated in several regions, notably in the Amhara region and in the Afar-Somali disputed area. Tensions between Caracas and Bogotá grew as Venezuela’s military and Colombian guerrilla groups clashed at the border. Maoist militants in India launched their deadliest ambush on security forces in four years. Fighting flared on the Kyrgz-Tajik border, killing dozens.
Read more: International Crisis Group
Northern Ireland “Above All, The Continuing Peace’ Did the Queen get it Wrong?
Northern Ireland is Back on the 'International Crisis Group' Deteriorated Situations in their April Monthly CrisisWatch Conflict Tracker Assessment. First Time Since the Good Friday Agreement!
On Sunday 2nd May 2021, Queen Elizabeth said the following: ‘The political progress in Northern Ireland and the peace process is rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division. But above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests.’ It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment. During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions,’
The Authoritative ‘International Crisis Group’, in its’ April report, listed Northern Ireland as a country that had a ‘Deteriorated Situation’. They said: ‘Violent unrest erupted in the capital Belfast and other cities against the backdrop of rising unionist anger over controversial Northern Ireland Protocol. Unrest 2-9 April broke out across several cities, reportedly leaving at least 90 police officers injured; violence erupted amid rising discontent within the Unionist community over Northern Ireland Protocol – provision of UK-EU “Brexit” agreement in effect since 1 Jan 2020 that created regulatory border in the Irish Sea – as well as anger over Public Prosecution Service’s late March decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein politicians who attended a funeral last summer in violation of COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.
Notably, groups of predominantly youths 2 April assaulted police officers, injuring 12 in Londonderry city; the next day hijacked and set alight three vehicles and threw over 30 petrol bombs at police in Newtownabbey town. In capital Belfast, authorities 2 April arrested eight individuals, including a 13-year-old boy, after youth groups attacked police officers in a historical loyalist area. Group mostly encompassing youths 7 April highjacked and set a bus on fire at the intersectional area between nationalist and unionist communities; 8 April threw petrol bombs at police officers who deployed water cannons for the first time in six years.
Home Office to Review ‘Discretionary’ Policy For Registering Children as British Citizens
The Home Office has settled the cases of five teenagers denied citizenship and agreed to review its policy on registration of children. All five were brought to the UK at a young age, and applied for British Citizenship at around 16 years old. Their applications were rejected under the British Nationality Act, section 3(1) which confers upon the Secretary of State a discretion to grant nationality ‘if he thinks fit’.
The five cases were settled prior to the first test case being heard by the High Court scheduled to take place next week. The Home Office has agreed to register the claimants and review its policy with a view to producing a revised policy within three months. According to the legal charity the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), which represented the claimants, the Home Office has confirmed that in the meantime it will not refuse applications for registration by discretion and registration will continue to be granted in circumstances where it normally would have been prior to the review.
The outcome for the claimants marks PRCBC’s second major victory in 2021. In February, the Court of Appeal held that the fee of £1,012 levied by the Home Office on children seeking to register as British citizens was unlawful. The ruling upheld the High Court’s 2019 finding, in which the judge referred to a ‘mass of evidence’ showing that the fee prevented children from registering as citizens, leaving them feeling ‘alienated, excluded, isolated, “second-best”, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK.’
At the time, chair of PRCBC Carol Bohmer said children are ‘still being excluded – by this fee and by many other barriers, which the Government should be doing all it can to remove. We will continue in our mission to make that happen so no one is in future forced to grow up in the UK suffering the alienation and isolation that is currently the experience of so many young people.’
Source: Zoe Darling, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/oIftoO
New Plan for Immigration: the Proposed Changes to Nationality Law
The New Plan for Immigration Policy Statement of March 2021 (the New Plan) contains proposals to make significant changes to immigration and nationality law and policy. This article addresses the proposals set out in Chapter 3, which concern changes to British nationality law, in the hope of enabling affected people and organisations to respond constructively to the consultation. The consultation closes on 6 May 2021.
Many of the proposals in this area are welcome, particularly those affecting British Overseas Territories Citizens and the Windrush Generation. Some others are far more troubling. Of particular concern is the proposal to introduce new and more onerous requirements for children born in the UK as stateless to register as British citizens.
Read more: Freemovemenrt, https://is.gd/sA87tK