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Immigration Solicitors



News & Views Monday 27th April to Sunday 3rd May 2020

Protecting People Subject to Immigration Control From Covid-19

COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that the divisive politics of austerity and the hostile environment have left us all less safe and more vulnerable. There can be no going back to ‘business as usual’ after the pandemic: no more good migrant versus bad migrant, benefit claimant versus tax payer.

Change needs to happen – not just because it makes sense if we are to keep healthy, but because it just makes sense.

The commodification of people based on income, job, nationality or immigration status has been exposed for the nonsense it always was. So, while we applaud the rebranding of last month’s “low skilled migrants” as this month’s “essential key workers”, this needs to be matched with a wider understanding that people’s rights are not based on their perceived economic or social value. People should not have to be superheroes to be worthy of protection, including protection from COVID-19.

While the pandemic has shown we are all in it together, we are certainly not all experiencing the impact of COVID-19 in the same way. Inequalities and racism have not disappeared. Protections offered to people subject to immigration control have to date been piecemeal and contradictory. At times it seems that public health needs have played second fiddle to politicking about immigration enforcement.

At a minimum we believe it is in all our best interests that during the pandemic:

everyone should be able to access healthcare
everyone should have a roof over their head and food to eat
everyone in the UK without permission should have permission granted and be able to access services
no one should lose their immigration status
no one should be trapped in immigration detention or situations of domestic violence
no one should face the hostile environment

Read more: GMIAU,

Record 50 Million People Internally Displaced In 2019

A total of 50.8 million people around the world were recorded as internally displaced last year, forced from their homes by conflict and disaster. This is the highest number ever, and 10 million more than in 2018. Annual statistics published by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) calculated that by the end of 2019, 45.7 million people were internally displaced – effectively becoming refugees in their own country – as a result of violence in 61 countries. An additional 5.1 million people in 96 countries had been displaced by disasters. Alexandra Bilak, the IDMC director, said she had hoped internal displacement would receive more global attention this year, following the launch in October of a UN high-level panel to address the problem and find long-term solutions. The panel held its first meeting in February.
The report, published on Tuesday, showed that the majority of new cases of displacement last year were in poorer countries. The highest number were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa, where escalating violence and deteriorating security in the Sahel and ongoing conflict in Somalia and South Sudan continued to drive hundreds of thousands from their homes. Tropical storms and monsoon rains in south and east Asia and the Pacific had also displaced millions. India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and China each recorded at least 4 million displacements, although the majority were the result of evacuations by their governments. By the end of last year, more than 130,000 people were still unable to return home after the devastation of cyclones Idai and Kenneth. Bilak warned that next year’s displacement report was “going to be extremely difficult” to compile as people responsible for collecting data may struggle to do so under current restrictions. “We could end up with a black hole of data,” she said.

Read more: Liz Ford, Guardian,

EDM 357: Healthcare Charges For Migrants

That this House notes that migrant communities, who are disproportionately at risk of exclusion, stigma and discrimination, are not currently receiving the necessary safeguards;

further notes that the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians, and Doctors of the World have called on the Government to suspend the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015 and 2017 and all associated immigration checks and data sharing;

 believes that it is vital that a clear message is sent to migrant communities that they can seek care when they need it, that they are included in society and have a part to play in response to this crisis;

and therefore calls on the Government to suspend all NHS charging for migrants, suspend all data sharing between health services and the Home Office;

 implement a firewall to ensure that patient data will not be shared with the Home Office or other bodies for the purposes of immigration enforcement;

and launch an information campaign to ensure both NHS staff and the public are aware of these changes and that it is safe for people to seek care, particularly aimed at migrant communities across the UK.

Signatures (17)

Parliament, Wednesday 22nd April,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 357     To find your MP go here:  

Explained: The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients

I have been practising emergency medicine for 30 years. In 1994 I invented an imaging system for teaching intubation, the procedure of inserting breathing tubes. This led me to perform research into this procedure, and subsequently teach airway procedure courses to physicians worldwide for the last two decades.

So at the end of March, as a crush of Covid-19 patients began overwhelming hospitals in New York City, I volunteered to spend 10 days at Bellevue, helping at the hospital where I trained. Over those days, I realized that we are not detecting the deadly pneumonia the virus causes early enough and that we could be doing more to keep patients off ventilators — and alive.

On the long drive to New York from my home in New Hampshire, I called my friend Nick Caputo, an emergency physician in the Bronx, who was already in the thick of it. I wanted to know what I was facing, how to stay safe and about his insights into airway management with this disease. “Rich,” he said, “it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

He was right. Pneumonia caused by the coronavirus has had a stunning impact on the city’s hospital system. Normally an E.R. has a mix of patients with conditions ranging from the serious, such as heart attacks, strokes and traumatic injuries, to the nonlife-threatening, such as minor lacerations, intoxication, orthopaedic injuries and migraine headaches.

During my recent time at Bellevue, though, almost all the E.R. patients had Covid pneumonia. Within the first hour of my first shift, I inserted breathing tubes into two patients.

Even patients without respiratory complaints had Covid pneumonia. The patient stabbed in the shoulder, whom we X-rayed because we worried he had a collapsed lung, actually had Covid pneumonia. In patients on whom we did CT scans because they were injured in falls, we coincidentally found Covid pneumonia. Elderly patients who had passed out for unknown reasons and a number of diabetic patients were found to have it.

And here is what really surprised us: These patients did not report any sensation of breathing problems, even though their chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia and their oxygen was below normal. How could this be?
We are just beginning to recognize that Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call “silent hypoxia” — “silent” because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature.

Read more:  Richard Levitan, New York Times,

Windrush Backlog Reaches 3,720 Cases

Lawyers and campaigners have expressed concern about a large backlog of unresolved Windrush cases, revealed in fresh Home Office figures, two years after Amber Rudd resigned as home secretary amid the emerging scandal. More than 12,000 people who were wrongly classified by the Home Office as illegal immigrants have now been given citizenship or some other form of documentation proving that they have – and always had – the right to live in the UK.

But there are 3,720 outstanding cases with the Windrush taskforce, the body set up to consider applications from people who believe they were wrongly categorised as immigration offenders. Those decisions triggered often catastrophic problems for the individuals’ access to employment, healthcare, housing and pensions. In extreme cases some of those affected were detained and deported. The home secretary, Priti Patel, revealed that 1,111 of these cases have yet to be considered, while the others are still under review. More than 150 people have been waiting for longer than six months, and 35 people have spent over a year waiting for a response.

Read more: Amelia Gentleman, Guardian,

AM (Zimbabwe) Any Home Office Attempt to Remove AM Would Breach Article 3

AM was born in 1987 and is a national of Zimbabwe. He arrived in the UK in 2000 to join his mother, and he was granted indefinite leave to remain in 2004. In 2006, AM was convicted of a number of criminal offences and sentenced to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment. In 2009, AM was convicted of offences relating to possession of a firearm and supply of heroin, and he was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. The Secretary of State seeks to deport AM. However, AM is HIV positive. He was placed on the anti-retroviral medication, Eviplera, after having first tried another medication which produced significant side-effects. If AM is deported to Zimbabwe, a range of anti-retroviral medications would be available, but not Eviplera.

 At a hearing before the First-tier Tribunal, counsel then appearing for AM relied on AM’s medical condition and the limits on treatment available to him, in addition to the impact of his deportation on his wife and child, to advance a claim based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The First-tier Tribunal dismissed the claim. AM appealed, and the appeal was dismissed by the Upper Tribunal. In the Court of Appeal, AM based his appeal on Article 3, rather than Article 8, of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. AM appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court was asked to consider whether to return AM to Zimbabwe would violate his right under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights not to be subjected to inhuman treatment by reason of his medical condition, in light of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Paposhvili v Belgium [2017] Imm AR 867.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal.

EDM 371: International Human Rights Violations During The Coronavirus Pandemic

That this House is gravely concerned by serious human rights violations occurring across the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic;

notes that restrictions on human rights in response to a national public health emergency must be lawful, proportionate, necessary, subject to review, and limited in duration, and that prohibitions against arbitrary deprivation of life, torture and other ill-treatment are absolute;

 is alarmed at reports of the well-being of vulnerable populations in many countries, such as prisoners, slum-dwellers, the homeless, refugees and migrants, not being properly protected;

 is also alarmed at reports of governments adopting disproportionate measures which could be used inter alia to suppress freedom of expression and media freedom, such as in Hungary, Cambodia and Thailand, as well as of police using excessive force to enforce restrictions, such as in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa;

 urges all governments to ensure any curtailment of fundamental freedoms during this emergency are entirely legitimate;

and calls on the Government to use its global influence to help curb unlawful human rights infringements during the pandemic and to assist less developed countries in better protecting vulnerable communities and channelling further resources into their healthcare and welfare systems.

House of Commons, Tabled 22 April 2020,

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 371     To find your MP go here: 

What is the Home Office Not Telling Us?

How can the Home Office be prevented from withholding important information in immigration appeals?

In Nimo (appeals: duty of disclosure) [2020] UKUT 00088 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal – consisting of Lane J, President, and Mr Ockelton, Vice-President – has decided to revisit the question of the Home Office’s duty to disclose material potentially helpful to an appellant during the course of an appeal. In doing so, the Tribunal has made a point of overruling a decision of the previous President, Miah (interviewer’s comments; disclosure; fairness) [2014] UKUT 515, apparently on the grounds that it was made without reference to earlier authority and was therefore per incuriam.

Nimo concerns an alleged marriage of convenience in an EEA case.  The refusal was based, as so often in such cases, largely on discrepancies between answers given by the appellant at a Home Office interview and those given by his wife, which were said to show that they were not genuinely married. The issue arising was whether the Home Office was required to disclose, as a matter of course, the comments of the interviewing officer, contained in a form called ICD.4605.  The appellant’s hope, it seems, was that those comments might have placed the discrepancies in a better light.

The Tribunal cites CM (EM country guidance; disclosure) Zimbabwe CG [2013] UKUT 00059 (IAC), and the references in it to cases such as R v SSHD ex p Kerrouche [1997] Imm AR  610 and R (Cindo) v IAT [2002] EWHC 246 Admin. From those it concludes, according to the headnote, that ‘the Secretary of State’s duty of disclosure is not knowingly to mislead’.  On that basis, it disapproves the decision of the previous President in Miah, to the effect that (in the words of the headnote to Nimo) ‘in every appeal involving an alleged marriage of convenience, the interviewer’s comments in the Secretary of State’s form ICD.4605 must be disclosed to the appellant and the Tribunal’.

There is no doubt that Miah, like many Tribunal decisions of its era, relies more on vigorous reasoning from first principles (general case law on fairness) than on any obvious familiarity with previous judgments on the very point at issue: CM Zimbabwe, Kerrouche and Cindo are not mentioned, for instance.

Read more: Alasdair Mackenzie, Doughty Street Chambers

Digital Divide 'Isolates and Endangers' Millions of UK's Poorest

Lockdown is creating a stark digital divide in the UK, with 1.9 million households with no access to the internet and tens of millions more reliant on pay-as-you-go services to make phone calls or access healthcare, education and benefits online. Frontline community groups and charities are warning that the digital exclusion of some of the UK’s poorest and most vulnerable households and communities is having a devastating effect across the country. The scale of the problem is staggering,” says Helen Milner, the chief executive of the Good Things Foundation, a charity that tackles digital exclusion in the UK. “Pay-as-you-go customers without the means to buy data are finding themselves shut in their homes, facing social isolation with no means of communicating with the outside world.” While the UK’s major internet providers have agreed to remove data caps on fixed-line broadband during the coronavirus pandemic, this does not apply to the estimated 1.9 million households with no internet data or the 25.9 million pay-as-you-go customers, who make up over a quarter of all mobile phone subscriptions in the UK. Vulnerable groups such as elderly people, asylum seekers and refugees and households living in poverty are hit hardest by more expensive pay-as-you-go tariffs because they cannot afford wifi at home or fixed-term contracts.

Read more: Annie Kelly, Guardian,