News & Views Monday 10th May to Sunday 16th May 2021


Police Release Men From Immigration Van Blocking Glasgow Street

UK government's hostile immigratin environment is not welcome in Scotland. Two men who were being detained in an immigration van which was surrounded by protesters have been released. The move followed a standoff between police officers and protesters in Kenmure Street on Glasgow's southside.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also the MSP for the area, said she disagreed fundamentally with Home Office immigration policy. She said: "This action was unacceptable. To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk." She said she would be "demanding assurances" from the UK government that they would not create such a dangerous situation again. She added: "No assurances were given - and frankly no empathy shown - when I managed to speak to a junior minister earlier."

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government's justice secretary, said: "the action they [the Home Office] have today is at best completely reckless, and at worst intended to provoke, on a day the UK government would have known the Scottish government and MSPs would be distracted by parliamentary process." He added that the situation "should never have occurred", and that "the UK government's hostile environment is not welcome here."

Source: BBC Scotland,

Patel’s Asylum Plans ‘Serious Threat’ to Rule Of Law - ‘Undermine Access To Justice’

In a damning indictment of the Home Office’s proposed immigration overhaul, the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales said the reforms would “make a mockery of British fair play” and risked “overturning” the principle that everyone is equal.

In an 81-page consultation response to the plans, Law Society president I Stephanie Boyce warned that penalising asylum seekers who reach UK shores by “so-called irregular routes”, such as by boat, risked breaching international law by creating a “two-tier asylum system”. “The proposals seek to push asylum-seekers who reach the UK by irregular routes into destitution or homelessness as a way of coercing them to leave the country. Extremely vulnerable people seeking asylum are exercising their legal right to escape human rights abuses – to penalise them in this way could constitute a further abuse. Punishing victims of crime is not acceptable in a civilised, democratic country which upholds the rule of law.

Read more: Independent,

Congolese Man Unlawfully Detained for Three and a Half Years

To a person in detention, particularly in prison, every day of freedom lost matters and the Defendant needs to be able to justify it. In this case I think that principle became lost to sight. So says the High Court in the case of Louis v Home Office [2021] EWHC 288 (QB), a depressing false imprisonment claim in which the Home Office was taken to task for its appalling treatment of a vulnerable detainee who was held under immigration powers for over four years. The court found a multitude of failures going “very well beyond maladministration” that resulted in Mr Louis, a care leaver who arrived in the UK aged 13, being unlawfully detained for 42 of the 51 months he spent in immigration removal centres. The case also shows the necessity of an effective system for monitoring detainee welfare on the prison estate, an issue to which the courts are now becoming alert. In 2010 Mr Louis was convicted of robbery and spent nine months in prison, after which the Home Office decided to detain him. In making that decision, officials characterised Mr Louis as a dangerous criminal, despite the offence being described by the trial judge as “relatively spontaneous low-level street robbery”. A deportation order was only actually issued after he’d been detained for 26 months.

Read more: Freemovement,

UK-India Migration Deal

The UK and India signed a non-binding agreement on migration this week. The basic ingredients are to beef up cooperation on removing unauthorised migrants in exchange for a minor liberalisation on youth mobility-type visas and some warm words on encouraging temporary migration more generally. Such a deal has been on the cards for years and a text was reportedly ready for signature in 2018, but was dropped in light of the Windrush scandal which made removals politically unappealing for a time.

Removing unauthorised migrants: “Cooperation relating to the prevention and combatting of illegal migration” (Chapter 4 and Annex 2). This includes procedures for verifying the identity of someone being sent back, types of documents that will be accepted for that purpose, and timelines for acknowledging responsibility for the person being removed. If they have a passport, the authorities in the country of return are supposed to respond within 20 days (or failing that, 30 days). If not, the timeline is 60/90 days. Emergency Travel Documents should be issued within five working days.

Also in Chapter 4 is a provision targeting Indian nationals said to be deliberately making their UK-born children stateless in order to secure them permission to remain. This echoes a clampdown on perceived abuse of the statelessness rules in the New Plan for Immigration.

Read more: Freemovement,



Anti-Deportation Protesters Block Immigration Van From Leaving Glasgow Street

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also the MSP for the area, said she was making "urgent inquiries" into the situation. "I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid," she said. She said her office was ready to offer assistance to those detained. Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government's justice secretary, said he had asked to speak to the home secretary to "make clear just how unacceptable this situation is".

An immigration van has been surrounded by protesters to block it from leaving a Glasgow street. One man is lying under the vehicle, on Kenmure Street in Pollokshields, while hundreds of people sit around the van and stand on the road. Some of the protesters were heard shouting "let our neighbours go". Police Scotland said a number of its officers had been called to the south side of the city to support the UK Border Agency. Pictures from the scene showed at least a dozen officers surrounding a Home Office van, marked "immigration enforcement".

Read more: BBC News,

Early Day Motion 7 - Undocumented Migrants

That this House recognises that there are many barriers that prevent people from accessing and maintaining stable immigration status even when they were either born in the UK or have lived in the UK for many years; further recognises that the majority of undocumented migrants have lost their status through no fault of their own, including through an inability to pay application fees, lack of access to legal advice, mistakes on the part of decision-makers and complexity of immigration rules; understands that the harm done to individuals through hostile immigration policies extends to family members and the communities that they are part of; notes that the UK has one of the most complex and expensive routes to regularisation in Europe; further notes that all current routes to regularisation and settlement are far too long, complicated and inflexible, leaving people with no options but to live undocumented; understands that migrants who do not have access to the public safety net or the right to work are vulnerable to exploitation and; and calls on the Government to support recommendations made by Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants in its report, We Are Here: routes to regularisation for the UK's undocumented population, published in April 2021 by introducing new routes to regularisation and removing barriers which cause migrants to become undocumented.

EDM (Early Day Motion) 7: tabled on 11 May 2021,
Put your MP to Work, get them to sign EDM 18,
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Over 2,000 Refugees Die After EU State Pushbacks

More than 2,000 refugees have died during the pandemic as a result of illegal pushbacks by countries in the European Union (EU). EU states, supported by EU border agency Frontex, have driven a mass operation to repel asylum seekers, according to analysis by the Guardian newspaper. At least 40,000 refugees have been pushed back to states outside the EU since the start of the pandemic while attempting to cross Europe’s borders. Border guards have used illegal methods, such as violence and abuse. In 2020 around 100,000 refugees crossed land and sea to reach Europe, compared to 130,000 in 2019 and 190,000 in 2017.

But, despite the numbers decreasing, border controls have been intensified by countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia and Malta. They have used the pandemic as an excuse to slam borders shut. Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo is a leading immigration lawyer and lecturer in Italy. “Recent reports suggest an increase of deaths of migrants attempting to reach Europe,” he said. “And an increase of the collaboration between EU countries with non-EU countries such as Libya, which has led to the failure of several rescue operations.”

Read more: Isabel Ringrose, SWP,

Right to Remain Toolkit - A Guide to the UK Immigration and Asylum System

Know Your Rights - Understanding the asylum and immigration system, and your own legal case, is very important. Many people have to make their way through this very complicated system without legal representation (without a lawyer). Even if you have a lawyer, it’s important to understand your own legal case – this is your case and your life and you need to keep track of what is happening and whether the lawyer is doing the things they should be.

Information and Action - The information in this guide comes from experts – from people who are going through the legal process or have done in the past, from those helping them, from lawyers, from community groups. It covers different stages of the legal system and procedures, with detailed information on rights and options at each stage, and advice about actions you can take to be in a better situation, or to help someone else.

The Right to Remain Toolkit is free to use, and it’s for people who want to learn more about the legal process, or a particular part of the legal process. You might be making an application or are thinking about it; you might be helping someone else to do so.

Read more: Right to Remain,