Britain Closes Door on Unaccompanied Child Refugees
Unaccompanied child refugees will no longer be given sanctuary in the UK, the immigration minister has said – sparking claims that Britain has “turned its back” on vulnerable youngsters in need of protection. The Dubs Amendment, passed in May 2016 by David Cameron’s government in the wake of an increase in refugees arriving in Europe during the Syrian war, required ministers to relocate and support asylum-seeking children from the continent. But Chris Philp, the immigration minister, said that although the Home Office took the “responsibility for the welfare of children very seriously”, there would no longer be a legal route to Britain for these minors. The only children still able to seek help in the UK are those who have relatives in Britain, who Mr Philp said would be able to come to Britain through the existing immigration rules. Campaigners warned that the decision meant hundreds of vulnerable children would instead turn to people smuggling gangs to assist them with travelling to Britain, placing them at greater risk of trafficking
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/0gIk0C
Home Office Can Make Exceptions to Rules Stopping Asylum Seekers Working ?
The Upper Tribunal has declared the government’s strict policy on asylum seekers working to be unlawful insofar as it doesn’t mention that exceptions can be made. The case is R (C6) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (JR/1414/2020) and comes hard on the heels of a very similar decision by the High Court last month. C6 is an Afghan asylum seeker. He found himself a job as a takeaway delivery driver, which is arguably a pretty vital role nowadays, but is not on the Shortage Occupation List. As asylum seekers can normally work only in shortage occupations, the Home Office turned down his request for permission to take the job.
If [C6] can spend time at the mosque and generally at large it is not easy to see why he should not be allowed to spend time in approved employment. It is very likely that being able to occupy his time usefully with paid work, or anything else, might well enable him to develop some self-esteem. Despite that glowing reference, the Home Office turned C6 down flat. Upper Tribunal judge Stephen Smith has now found that the decision to refuse permission to work contained “significant defects” and “singularly failed to engage” with any of the detailed arguments advanced by C6’s representatives.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/q2q6D7
When Can an Immigration Decision Involving Human Rights Be Appealed?
The distinction between a “claim” and an “application” was at the heart of the Upper Tribunal’s recent decision in Yerokun (Refusal of claim; Mujahid) Nigeria  UKUT 377 (IAC). Mr Yerokun made an application for permission to remain in the UK based on his human right to private and family life. This application was refused, but he was granted leave “outside the Immigration Rules” for a period of six months. Since his human rights application for a longer stay had been refused, he appealed. In 2018, the First-tier Tribunal agreed that he had a right of appeal against the refusal and proceeded to allow his appeal. The Upper Tribunal has now reversed that decision on the basis that there is no right to appeal against the refusal of a human rights application, only against refusal of a human rights claim.
What’s the difference? Section 82(1) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provides: A person (“P”) may appeal to the Tribunal where—(a) the Secretary of State has decided to refuse a protection claim made by P, (b) the Secretary of State has decided to refuse a human rights claim made by P, or (c) the Secretary of State has decided to revoke P’s protection status. It was not disputed that Mr Yerokun had made a human rights claim (i.e. a claim that removing him from the UK would breach his human rights). But that claim was not refused. It was accepted: he was granted permission to remain in the UK for six months. It was the application to stay for a longer period which was refused. As such, there was no right of appeal:
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/uBM0Rc
15 Thousand Call For Refugee Camps at Military Barracks to Be Shut Down
A petition to close camps in Kent and Wales has racked up more than 7,500 signatures in just a few hours after being launched on Friday morning. The petition states: Since September last year, the government has been using decommissioned army barracks in Wales and Kent to house asylum seekers. People are sleeping in dormitory style blocks with bunk beds and are unable to socially distance or properly self-isolate. They do not have access to adequate healthcare. Trapped in the camps, the mental health of residents is deteriorating too and there have been a number of suicide attempts. We wrote to the government, with the British Medical Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Faculty of Public Health and others to warn them about the dire health risks of housing these very vulnerable people in the camps. They rejected our concerns. Now there’s been a Covid outbreak in one of the barracks and it can only be a matter of time before infection is rife in both centres. This cannot continue.
Charities have repeatedly raised concerns about conditions inside Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, and Penally Barracks in Pembrokeshire since they were commandeered by the Home Office last year. In recent days, a coronavirus outbreak has hit the Kent site, where hundreds of people are living behind the barbed wire-topped fences. There have been reports of suicide attempts in the Army barracks and many residents went on hunger strike in protest at the conditions, which reportedly include 34 people sharing one shower.
A petition launched by charity Freedom From Torture to empty the barracks and close them down on Friday morning has already racked up thousands of signatures. 15,500 signatures had been gathered, just hours after the petition went live.
The petition can be accessed here: https://is.gd/HjsPti
Prosecution and Fines of Destitute Persons Begging in Public A Violation of Article 8
In Chamber judgment1in the case of L?c?tu? v. Switzerland (application no. 14065/15) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned an order for the applicant to pay a fine of 500 Swiss francs (CHF) (approximately 464 euros (EUR)) for begging in public in Geneva, and her detention in a remand prison for five days for failure to pay the fine.
The Court observed that the applicant, who was illiterate and came from an extremely poor family, had no work and was not in receipt of social benefits. Begging constituted a means of survival for her. Being in a clearly vulnerable situation, the applicant had had the right, inherent in human dignity, to be able to convey her plight and attempt to meet her basic needs by begging.
The Court considered that the penalty imposed on the applicant had not been proportionate either to the aim of combating organised crime or to the aim of protecting the rights of passers-by, residents and shopkeepers. The Court did not subscribe to the Federal Court’s argument that less restrictive measures would not have achieved a comparable result.
In the Court’s view, the penalty imposed had infringed the applicant’s human dignity and impaired the very essence of the rights protected by Article 8 of the Convention, and the State had thus overstepped its margin of appreciation in the present case.
New Harsh Rules Now Inforce for all Foreigh National Offenders
New Immigration Rules which came into force on 1 December 2020 provide for the mandatory refusal or cancellation of entry clearance or permission to enter or stay in the UK where a person has been convicted of a criminal offence, in the UK or overseas, for which they have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.
Human Rights Court Confirms Minor Offence Can Trigger Deportation
The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that the final offence committed by someone before deportation action is taken against them does not need to be particularly significant if they have a history of serious offending. In Munir Johanna v Denmark (application no. 56803/18) and Khan v Denmark (application no. 26957/19) the court has confirmed the earlier decision of Miah v the United Kingdom (application no. 53080/07). Danish deportation law is quite different from the UK system. The applicants in these cases were issued with suspended deportation orders by the Danish criminal courts following earlier convictions. They then committed further offences and upon conviction were liable to deportation unless doing so would violate Denmark’s international obligations. The conviction that triggered deportation in both cases was relatively minor compared to the earlier convictions. The court reiterated that although, in principle, there might be a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights if the triggering offence is very minor, it was acceptable to deport the applicants in light of their overall offending:
Read more: Freemoevement, https://is.gd/dQPALF
Authorities Rescue Vietnamese Nail Bar Slave, Send Her Straight Back to Captor
When a young Vietnamese person is found living in a room with a padlock on the outside of the door, describes working for no payment in a nail bar, gives a vague account of apparently chance encounters with a series of Vietnamese persons as part of her journey and provides no suggestion as to how she might have paid for her passage from Vietnam, it is difficult to see how such an account did not provide to… social workers possible indicators of… being the victim of trafficking. So says Hugh Mercer QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge in a judicial review challenge by a young Vietnamese woman. The case is HJ v London Borough of Croydon  EWHC 66 (Admin).
The social workers in question were from Greenwich council rather than Croydon. They interviewed HJ on the same day she was discovered by police with a view to assessing her age. HJ was not informed of the purpose of the interview, which deemed her to be over 18. She was then released on immigration bail — straight back to her padlocked room, where she stayed for another five days. Sense has since prevailed and HJ is now in foster care, but Greenwich and Croydon have been passing the buck on responsibility for supporting her for the past year. The judge ultimately put the onus on Croydon: “I cannot accept that the Defendant was entitled to refuse to assess the needs of HJ on the basis of the preliminary assessment of age by [Greenwich]”.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/2Use6I
Fair Immigration Reform Movement
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) unites a call for humane immigration and inclusion policies that can truly reflect our society’s democratic values, and that draws on a distinguished history in Britain of standing for the dignity and justice of all. The Charter emerged as a result of conversations with those who face the sharp end of current policies: with their family and friends, campaigners, politicians, journalists, case workers, volunteers, and many others who support everyone who has been affected by the increasingly careless and brutal immigration policies in Britain. Through these discussions, it became clear that a united effort is now required to achieve the transformative change that must take place, as well as a blueprint on exactly how to accomplish these changes through a concerted mobilisation. The FIRM Charter sets out these basic demands, as well as the core principles by which migrant communities, social justice campaigners, and progressive organisations will work together to realise.
Migrants and refugees have long felt the impact of a broken system, the hateful and misleading public discourse, and hostile immigration policies. These practices are built on the foundation of institutional racism and the legacies of colonialism which still underpins Britain’s relationship to its migrant, black and minority ethnic populations and on which the Black Lives Matter movement has recently shone a light.
The public arena is dominated by inaccurate stories and outright racism directed towards migrants; media outlets currently play a particularly devastating role in misrepresenting migrant life in Britain. Being ‘different’ is presented as a threat, and basic human requirements for dignity and security are dismissed and mocked as ‘political correctness’ or mere opinion, not real human needs. This discourse has produced a disturbing and distorted picture that is popularising far-right ideology, and heavily influences public policy debates and now dominates the national consciousness. Amidst these poisonous debates, the voice of migrant communities – their experiences and their interests – are marginalised, and worse, silenced.
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Charter calls for an urgent and comprehensive overhaul of the current system, to be replaced with policies based on a common respect for basic rights, and the principles of dignity, justice, welcome and action.
Join the Migrants Organise Webinar Series, Starting Jan 28th
Demand for Dignity: End the Hostile Environment
We demand the immediate cessation of the Hostile Environment; this includes repealing the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts, as well as antecedent legislation that target people seeking asylum. Read more…
Demand for Justice
The current immigration system is entirely defined by an absence of justice for migrants in Britain as well as continuing international and historic injustices, which are inseparable parts of this same system. We are calling for the recentering of justice in our society. Read more…
Demand for Welcome: Fighting the Hate
The Hostile Environment policies and practices have created divisions and deeply damaged the fabric of our society. Once we bring the hostilities to an end, we will have to work to repair the damage it has inflicted on communities around the country. A serious change is needed in the Government’s approach to meaningful inclusion, anti-racism and equality in order to foster a culture of welcoming migrants, and to repair the extensive damage inflicted by its policies. Read more…
Demand for Action: How to Get It Done
Given the sorry state of the UK’s immigration system and the complex challenges faced by migrant communities, a clear long-term strategy is necessary for this transformation. It requires a change in how grass-roots, advocacy, campaigning and civil society communities and organisations work together.
Join the Migrants Organise Webinar Series, Starting Jan 28th
We are building a movement for migrant justice. Join us at our 2021 Webinar series kicking off at 5pm, January 28th as we explore different experiences and traditions of migrant organising, and how to build our collective power and work towards systemic change. To attend you must register via our Zoom page.
The webinar series is an aspect of the collective learning we are undertaking, as part of the FIRM Charter. It sets out the demands and principles of our migrant justice movement. Sign the Charter today!