Lack of access to lawyers for immigration detainees being held in prison is unlawful, High Court rules

26 February 2021: Independent: Judge says ministers failing to provide adequate legal advice to people held under immigration powers in jails in breach of law, after man left without lawyer for 10 months and forced to represent himself

The legal aid provision for immigration detainees held in prisons is unlawful, the High Court has ruled, after it emerged a man was unable to access a lawyer for 10 months and had to represent himself.

The claimant challenged the legal aid arrangements for immigration detainees held in prisons on the basis that they are less favourable than those in place for people held in immigration removal centres.

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Concerns about the use of army barracks etc.

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites:

Updated 24 February 2021: Home Affairs Select Committee: Home Secretary questioned on the work of the department

[Extract] Q94            Stuart C. McDonald: Good morning to our witnesses. I want to turn now to the issue of asylum accommodation, particularly contingency accommodation, including military barracks. Mr Rycroft, can I ask you first about some of the advice and research the Home Office has done? We have received a lot of evidence that the military barracks are in pretty disgraceful conditions and that there are wider problems with contingency accommodation, so I want to dig down into what the Home Office relies on when it disputes that evidence. For example, could I ask about the following documents and whether they are publicly available? There is an equality impact assessment about the use of barracks that has featured in the newspapers. Is that publicly available?

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Hostile Environments: The Oil Industry, Ecological Crisis and Migration

10 February 2021 Rethinking Security: What has oil extraction got to do with migration to the UK? Birmingham volunteer worker (and member of QARN Steering Group) Rosemary Crawley tells the story of one woman driven to leave her home in the Niger Delta, and her experience as she came to seek security in Britain.  

Sanctuary and hope

Women with Hopea small Birmingham charity for women caught up in the UK immigration system, includes within its purposes the provision of a safe space in which women can relax, learn and reflect. A wealth of evidence testifies to the particular harms and disadvantages faced by women migrants, both in terms of their experiences in their various countries of origin and in the countries in which they subsequently seek sanctuary. Immigration detention and not being believed are just two of the additional traumas that so many women face once they arrive in the UK. Their need for a safe space to talk about these and other experiences and be heard is extremely important. It was in just such a space that Gloria’s story of life in the Niger Delta emerged.

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UK’s £1,000 child citizenship fee ruled unlawful by appeal court

18 February 2021: Guardian: Court upholds ruling that Home Office failed to assess best interests of children in setting the fee

Home Office fees of £1,000 for children to register as British citizens are unlawful, the court of appeal has upheld in a landmark ruling.

The high fees that children or their parents are expected to pay to secure British citizenship have been controversial for many years. Children who have a right to register as British citizens but may be prevented from doing so due to the high cost or lack of access to legal advice risk losing out on rights and benefits.

Thursday’s ruling found that ministers had failed to assess and consider the impact of this fee on children and their rights, pointing out that for some families it was “difficult to see how the fee could be afforded at all”.

The Home Office charges £1,012 for a child to register for citizenship. However, the process costs about a third of that, at £372. The Home Office says the profit is used to fund other areas of its work.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/feb/18/uk-unlawfully-charging-1000-for-children-to-become-citizens

Home Office ignored Covid advice not to put asylum seekers in barracks

16 February 2021 Guardian: Public Health England warned against using Napier facility before outbreak of coronavirus, court hears

The Home Office ignored advice from Public Health England that housing asylum seekers in dormitories in army barracks was inappropriate in a pandemic, months before an outbreak of 120 Covid cases.

In a high court hearing on Tuesday – brought by six asylum seekers who claim that conditions at the barracks are inhumane – the Home Office conceded that it was arguable that the use of Napier barracks to house the group was unlawful and in breach of human rights.

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ICIBI inspection of the use of hotels and barracks as contingency asylum accommodation

Updated below, 21 February 2021. 25 January 2021: The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has begun an inspection of the use of hotels and barracks as contingency asylum accommodation and is inviting anyone with relevant knowledge or experience to submit their evidence to chiefinspector@icibi.gov.uk.

The call for evidence will remain open for four weeks (until 19 February 2021).

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Understanding the roots of the UK’s immigration system and how to dismantle it

Starting in March, we will be running a four-part course with Woodbrooke to understand and reflect on the root causes of racism and the draconian immigration policy of the UK. The course has been developed collaboratively by Tatiana Garavito from Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Kékéli Kpognon from Quaker Council for European Affairs and Catherine Henderson from Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network.

Through four interactive sessions, this short course will discuss the narratives and social constructs that have led to the current anti-immigrant sentiment as well as the ways in which people and communities can begin to get organised to build power that achieves racial and migrant justice.

Through four interactive sessions, this short course will discuss the narratives and social constructs that have led to the current anti-immigrant sentiment as well as the ways in which people and communities can begin to get organised to build power that achieves racial and migrant justice.

We are hoping that the course will be useful to many Friends, including those who are not currently involved in Sanctuary Meetings. Please share this widely though your meeting and your networks.

The course costs £42 with live sessions are every Thursday at 19:00-21:00 between 8th March 2021 – 4th April 2021.

To read more or to book, please visit the Woodbrooke website

Early Day Motion EDMs #1442 Undocumented migrants and covid-19 vaccination, and #658 Leave to Remain status

Please ask your MP to support EDMs # 1442 and #658.

Updated 8 February 2021: Early Day Motion 1442 tabled on 3 February 2021: Undocumented migrants and covid-19 vaccination

Motion text: That this House believes that access to essential healthcare is a universal human right; regrets the continued existence of structural, institutional and systemic barriers in accessing NHS care experienced by undocumented migrants and those awaiting determination of their asylum, visa and immigration applications; considers that an effective public health response to the covid-19 crisis requires that the most vulnerable can afford to access food, healthcare, and self-isolate where necessary; understands that some of the most vulnerable people in society will not access vaccination against the virus, since to disclose their identity to the authorities would risk their arrest, detention and deportation; fears that without urgent Government intervention this will lead to further avoidable premature deaths, especially in the African, Asian and Minority Ethnic population; and therefore calls on the Home Office to grant everyone currently in the UK at this time who are undocumented migrants and those awaiting determination of their asylum, visa and immigration applications indefinite leave to remain, and to be eligible in due course to receive the covid-19 vaccination.

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