The UK’s hostile environment: Deputising immigration control

Melanie Griffiths, University of Birmingham, England
Colin Yeo, Garden Court Chambers, London
Abstract – the full text is here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0261018320980653

In 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May told a newspaper that she wanted to create a ‘really hostile environment’ for irregular migrants in the UK. Although the phrase has since mutated to refer to generalised stateled marginalisation of immigrants, this article argues that the hostile environment is a specific policy approach, and one with profound significance for the UK’s border practices. We trace the ‘hostile environment’ phrase, exposing its origins in other policy realms, charting its evolution into immigration, identifying the key components and critically reviewing the corresponding legislation.

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2020 Nov Public accounts committee: Asylum accommodation and support transformation programme 

The Committee of Public Accounts is appointed by the House of Commons to examine “the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure, and of such other accounts laid before Parliament as the committee may think fit” (Standing Order No.148).

The report itself is here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3561/documents/34409/default/

Conclusions and recommendations

1.It is unacceptable that the Department has failed to engage adequately with local stakeholders. The Department and its providers have repeatedly failed to properly consult and communicate with local authorities and NHS providers, and local MPs on the use of hotels in their areas. We are concerned to hear that the Department moved service users that had contracted COVID-19 to a hotel in another local authority at the last minute and without notifying either the relevant local authority or the relevant NHS bodies affected. We are similarly concerned to hear that in another local authority, the provider had told the local authority but had not informed the local health commissioner that 160 asylum seekers were moving to a local hotel and would need medical services. Where plans are shared, this is not done so with enough time to allow health and well-being services to put the necessary support services in place. It is essential that the Department contacts local care commissioning groups or equivalent before relocating asylum seekers in their areas so that their medical needs can be properly catered for. The Department accepts it needs to improve how it works with local partners, but despite its claims to have redoubled efforts since we last discussed this issue in June 2020, MPs’ and local authorities’ concerns have continued.

Recommendation: The Department should, as a matter of urgency, communicate with NHS bodies, MPs and other key stakeholders such as police, setting out how it will consult and engage with them in future. The Department should write to the Committee within three months to confirm its approach.

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Quakers call for action on racial and ethnic disparities

4 December 2020: Quakers in Britain have submitted evidence to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, calling on the government to embed anti-racism in policies, practice and discourse across society.

The Commission asked fundamental questions about the reasons and solutions for racial and ethnic disparities in the UK.

Quakers’ commitment to anti-racism stems from their belief that there is that of God in everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or any other characteristic.

Quakers in Britain recently affirmed their commitment to tackling racism within their organisation.

Quakers do not want the Commission to be an excuse for the government to delay taking action to tackle racism. They called on the Commission to implement the recommendations of previous inquiries.

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Corporate Watch report on UK Border regime

Throughout history, human beings have migrated. To escape war, oppression and poverty, to make a better life, to follow their own dreams. But since the start of the 20th century, modern governments have found ever more vicious ways to stop people moving freely.

The UK border regime includes the razor wire fences at Calais, the limbo of the asylum system, and the open violence of raids and deportations. Alongside the Home Office, it includes the companies running databases and detention centres, the media pushing hate speech, and the politicians posturing to win votes. It keeps on escalating, through Tony Blair’s war on refugees to Theresa May’s “hostile environment”, spreading fear and division.

This book describes and analyses the UK’s system of immigration controls. It looks at how it has developed through recent history, the different actors involved, and how people resist. The aim is to help understand the border regime, and ask how we can fight it effectively.

NB: we will be glad to send copies for free to asylum seekers and other people without papers. For other people and groups fighting the border regime, we can send at cost price or whatever you can afford to donate.

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Wake Up Call report

42 organisations have co-published Wake Up Call – a new report that sets out the chronic failings in the introduction of the new asylum support and accommodation contracts; and the severe consequences for people seeking asylum.

The report draws on collective evidence submitted to the National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into the contracts, the findings of which are also published  and are covered in media outlets including The Independent.

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“Beyond Belief” – Home Office Asylum Interviews Reveal a Culture Tainted by Prejudgement

“Beyond Belief” – Home Office Asylum Interviews Reveal a  Culture Tainted by Prejudgement Freedom from Torture today publishes a new report on the experience of the asylum interview for torture survivors seeking asylum in the UK. The report argues that the Home Office repeatedly breaches its own guidelines, and calls for a fundamental culture change.

Key findings: – Arriving in Britain, traumatised from torture and sexual violence, as well as a harrowing journey, survivors are often prevented from giving a full account of their experiences or are denied the opportunity to explain the relevance of their evidence. The Home Office fails to follow its own guidance and aspiration to create a ‘positive and secure environment’ for the survivor.

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A Short History of Resistance to Immigration Detention and Deportations in the United Kingdom

April 2020: Bill MacKeith, published by Oxford Against Immigration Detention http://oaid.org.uk

In 2019, ‘enforced returns’ from the UK fell to 7,361, 22% lower than the previous year and the lowest number since records began in 2004. Over the same period, there were 11,421 ‘voluntary’ departures. 

On 31 December 2019, there were 1,637 people in immigration detention, 8% fewer than on 31 December 2018, and fewer than half the number on 30 September 2017. The number of people entering detention in 2019 was similar to the previous year at 24,443. Prior to this, there has been a downward trend since 2015. (Immigration Statistics, Year Ending December 2019)

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Global Compacts for Migration, and Refugees

Briefing from Parliament: The United Nations Global Compact for Migration  

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was formally adopted by 164 Member States of the United Nations, including the UK, in December 2018. This briefing explains what’s in the Compact and its implications for Member States.

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Coronavirus, undocumented migrants and those in the current process

PRESS RELEASE / PUBLIC STATEMENT for immediate release