Women’s Experiences of Seeking Asylum in the UK - Stressful and Traumatic
Asylum interviews were especially stressful and traumatic for many of the women, with the report noting: "Women taking part in the research described having to re-live traumatic experiences repeatedly, being required to recount experiences of rape and sexual abuse to a male interviewer and feeling interrogated and disbelieved by government officials. … Even under the best possible circumstances, such as working with an interviewer who is trained in trauma-informed approaches, participants said that it remains very difficult to discuss gender-based violence and traumatic experiences. The difficulty was exacerbated for women who had had to disclose these experiences to men."
*Women seeking asylum do not feel they are treated with basic human dignity.
*Asylum application processes fail to make women feel safe or to respond to trauma.
*Women seeking asylum face significant challenges accessing safe and appropriate accommodation, financial support and healthcare.
*Decision-making delays leave individuals, and families, in limbo for many years.
*Young women seeking asylum need independent advisors they can trust.
*Women seeking asylum aspire to study and to work.
Read more: EIN, https://rb.gy/pwvpnt
More Than Half of Calls to EU Settlement Scheme Helpline Unanswered
People having problems with their application to the EU Settlement Scheme or issues proving their status have one main point of contact with the Home Office: the EUSS helpline. The Home Office has now revealed that this valuable resource has been failing people, with only 44% of calls getting through to a caseworker between November 2020 and November 2021. In this time frame, more than 1,400,000 calls were placed, showing the widespread need for information and guidance from the government. Of those, around 650,000 were successfully connected, data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows.
Callers often receive the following message, after which their call is disconnected: Thank you for calling the resolution centre. We are experiencing high demand for our services and currently have no more space in our call queue… Your call will now be disconnected. The Home Office notes that the average waiting time has been under 15 minutes since 30 June 2021, the main application deadline to the EU Settlement Scheme. This metric is not very meaningful given that it disregards the over 50% of calls which aren’t allowed to join the queue. At the3million, the EU citizens’ group, we have seen time and time again reports of people being unable to fix problems because their calls don’t get through. This has a significant impact on their mental health, ability to work, rent and travel.
There are currently 320,000 applications in the Settlement Scheme backlog, waiting for a decision. Although the government has provided reassurances that people will have their rights protected while waiting for a decision, the day-to-day reality is confusion, both for EU citizens themselves and those checking immigration status, such as employers, landlords, benefits officials and border officers. For those in the backlog, access to a reliable helpline service is crucial.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/sokpxa
CPS Must Stop Prosecuting Cross Channel Refugees
Seeking Asylum is not a Crime - 5 Convictions quashed to date, yet the CPS continue prosecuting cross channel refugees as thought the Borders Bill was already law!
Demonstrte Crown Prosecution Service
Wednesday 26th Janaury 1:00 pm
102 Petty France, London SW1H 9EA
(2 minutes walk from St James underground)
Join us this Wednesday as we demand the CPS stop carrying out the Home Offices racist and unlawful pursuit of cross channel refugees. The government are seeking to change the law to make it illegal with their Borders and Nationality Bill but the CPS should not be acting as though that law were already on the books!
Called by Movement for Justice: email@example.com
Impunity Entrenched - Informing the Struggle for Racial Justice - IRR
This week, a beleaguered Boris Johnson administration reacted to calls for his resignation by announcing it will defund Britain’s public broadcaster and further militarise the Franco-British border.
With many speculating it is a matter of when, not if, Johnson falls, it is important to recognise that such populist policies, launched to placate the right-wing media and others, are consistent with a pattern of entrenched impunity by this government: in the policing of borders, the police, the judiciary, equalities, and human rights.
To help understand the sheer proliferation of government measures and proposals put forward over the past year, this week IRR News published a five-part resource, Impunity Entrenched, compiled by IRR vice chair Frances Webber.
These measures, informed by an ideology of punishment and exclusion, will destroy the right to asylum, fill prisons, further divide society and exacerbate racial tensions and hatred, while entrenching the powerful by blocking routes to political, legal and public accountability. What they all share is a retreat from values of fairness, equality and basic human decency, in favour of strong-arm policing of minorities and dissent at home, abroad and on the borders, within a punitive, crude, nationalistic political culture.
Read more: Institute of Race Relations https://rb.gy/5smjfz
People Being Deported from UK Unable to Access Justice as Appeals Plummet
Campaigners warn that people being deported from the UK are struggling to access justice as figures show the number of legal challenges has plummeted in recent years. New data obtained via freedom of information laws (FOI) reveals that the rate at which deportation orders are being appealed dropped from nearly one in three (30 per cent) in 2019 to nearly one in eight (12 per cent) last year. Lawyers said “declining access to legal advice” for deportees – caused in part by the pandemic and in part by cuts to legal aid – has made it “almost impossible” to successfully challenge deportation.
The figures have raised questions over controversial government plans to reduce people’s rights to challenge removal from Britain in order to ensure foreign nationals are not “incrementally and systematically frustrated by new and expanding human rights claims”. Justice secretary Dominic Raab announced last month that removing this appeal right under his new Bill of Rights would prevent the system from being “abused” by “dangerous criminals”.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://rb.gy/8sul0l
Home Office Raided Care Homes In Lockdown
Data from a Freedom of Information request has shown that the Home Office continued to carry out immigration raids in care homes throughout the pandemic. The data revealed that on average, the Home Office carried out a raid every 3 months in the 21 months up to September 2021, this included at least 1 raid in January during a national lockdown. Out of the seven raids that were carried out, six resulted in arrests, between 1 and 5 resulted in the apprehended person being detained.
Hostile Environment policy over public health
The revelation has led to concern that the Home Office were prioritizing their hostile environment policies over public health. Karolina Gerlich, chief executive of the Care Workers Charity said that the raids were unnecessary and put vulnerable individuals’ health at risk, she said: “We don’t believe it’s the right thing to do at any time. We believe there are better systems in place that could be used than raiding care homes. But to do it during Covid, during lockdown and potentially bringing the virus into care homes is very irresponsible and insensitive to the situation,”
The data was obtained by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) who have also critised the Home Office’s actions. Their campaigns officer, Mary Atkinson, said “These are places where elderly people were barred from seeing or hugging loved ones for months on end, and many still have stringent contact rules in place. But apparently the Home Office saw fit to barge into these homes and arrest carers looking after vulnerable people…They reveal a government that is willing to pursue its hostile environment at all costs, instead of prioritising the public’s care and wellbeing.”
Read more: IAS, https://rb.gy/1ndoue
Uncertainty Persists for Zambrano Carers Following Court of Appeal Ruling
The Court of Appeal has dismissed the government’s appeal against last year’s decision that the EU Settlement Scheme rules on Zambrano carers are unlawful. But the judgment in Akinsanya v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 37 leaves the situation for these carers — non-EU parents of British citizen children — uncertain. The court held the Home Secretary had misunderstood domestic law but did not rule that there had been any breach of EU law. While the Home Secretary is now required to rewrite the Immigration Rules with regard to Zambrano carers, it remains to be seen whether she will do so in a way that will provide a route to settlement under the Scheme for those with existing permission to stay in the UK.
The prize: faster settlement for Zambrano carers
Ms Akinsanya is from Nigeria and the parent of a British citizen child. She contended that she met the requirements for settled status under Appendix EU as a Zambrano carer, despite already having limited leave to remain in the UK under Appendix FM. As Hackney Community Law Centre puts it, “settled status is far preferable to limited leave to remain, because it does not have a ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition and does not require expensive renewal applications”.
Most have lived in the UK for a long time; they and their children are clearly “settled” in every sense of the word except for their immigration status. Every 30 months they are required to either find £2,593 to extend their leave or to produce extensive financial evidence to prove their inability to pay. They also have to apply again to the Home Office to confirm that they remain the parent of a British citizen child and therefore would like to continue to have permission to stay in the UK. Upon reaching the milestone of ten years’ leave to remain, they are required to pay a further £2,389 to apply for settlement, and to pass English language and life in the UK tests. Even without fees for solicitors and biometric appointments, the total cost of obtaining indefinite leave to remain is £12,761 over the ten years.
By contrast, an application for status under the EU Settlement Scheme is free. The pathway to settlement is five years, with no English or life in the UK tests at the end. It is therefore a much simpler, potentially shorter and less costly route to settlement.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/sfojdr
UK judge Rules Age Assessment of Asylum Seekers Unlawful
Two asylum seekers who arrived in the UK as children but were wrongly assessed as adults by Home Office social workers have won a victory in the high court after it ruled that the way they were treated was unlawful. In his ruling on Wednesday 19th January 2022, Mr Justice Henshaw found that the Home Office policy of conducting age assessments soon after arrival in the UK was unlawful, the decision to detain young people for them was unlawful, and the lack of an appropriate adult present for the assessments was also unlawful.
The ruling has been hailed as a victory for hundreds of unaccompanied asylum seeker children thought to have been subjected to the process. Shortly before Wednesday’s judgment was made public, the Home Office stopped social workers from carrying out age assessments of newly arrived young people at a processing centre for new asylum seeker arrivals called Kent Intake Unit and issued new guidance about age assessment for the new arrivals.
Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, welcomed the judgment. “We are relieved that the practice of hasty decisions is no longer allowed to continue,” he said. “Distinguishing between adults and children is not something that can be done quickly; it takes time and expertise to make the right decision.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://rb.gy/ac7znu
UK Country Guidance Confirms: Ethiopia Still Not Safe for Oromo Liberation Front Supporters
In AAR (OLF – MB confirmed) Ethiopia CG  UKUT 1 (IAC), the Upper Tribunal has confirmed that the situation in Ethiopia has not changed substantially enough to allow a departure from previous country guidance. This is important because people applying for asylum based on Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) support/and or membership have been finding their cases in limbo, with the Home Office arguing that it would now be safe for them to return. AAR provides a definitive response for many of them: Ethiopia is still not safe.
The appellant, represented by our colleague Alex Burrett, successfully argued that the risk categories in MB (OLF and MTA – risk) Ethiopia CG  UKAIT 30 should continue to apply because there was not a “durable change in circumstances” in Ethiopia. This test for departing from country guidance is set out in SMO, KSP & IM (Article 15 (c); identity documents) Iraq CG  UKUT 400 (IAC), at paragraphs -.
As the tribunal notes in the headnote, the fact that a county guidance decision is quite old does not affect the legal principles relevant to departing from it in a given case. The process remains the same: existing country guidance must be followed, unless in the individual case the departure is shown to be justified. Judges who do depart from country guidance should have a “good reason, explicitly stated”.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/pcveos