Home Office will decide asylum claims of thousands stuck in Rwanda scheme limbo

22 July 2024: Guardian: Failed Rwanda deportation scheme cost £700m, says Yvette Cooper

Home secretary describes Tory policy that Labour has axed as ‘the biggest waste of taxpayer money I have ever seen’

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/article/2024/jul/22/failed-rwanda-deportation-scheme-cost-700m-says-yvette-cooper

19 July 2024: Guardian: Home Office will decide asylum claims of thousands stuck in Rwanda scheme limbo

Previous UK government had built up backlog of 90,000 people whose claims it deemed ‘inadmissible’

Thousands of asylum seekers left in limbo for more than two years as they awaited a decision on the Rwanda scheme will now have their cases decided in the UK.

The decision, revealed during a high court challenge on Friday, is a sharp shift in position from the previous government, which had passed various laws declaring that the claims of those who arrived after January 2022 were “inadmissible” – and so could not be processed in the UK.

But on Friday, the court heard how the new home secretary had pledged to process the claims of those threatened with removal under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) in Britain. Keir Starmer scrapped the Rwanda scheme upon entering Downing Street.

A preliminary hearing in London had already been scheduled, however, in order to hear the progress of the claims of two asylum seekers who had claimed the Home Office had acted unlawfully by delaying its decision over their applications.

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Government fails to monitor firms with £4bn contracts to house asylum seekers

20 July 2024: Open Democracy: Revealed: Investigation finds Home Office has no complete record of companies housing almost 100,000 asylum seekers

The government is failing to monitor private firms holding asylum accommodation contracts worth billions of pounds, openDemocracy and Liberty Investigates can reveal.

A joint investigation has found that the Home Office holds no centralised data on the performances of its three main accommodation providers – SercoMears and Clearsprings Ready Homes – which together house almost all of the 100,000 asylum seekers in government accommodation.

In 2019, these firms were awarded public contracts initially estimated to be worth £4bn over 10 years, though costs have since spiralled. Earlier this year the National Audit Office said it expects the Home Office to have spent “£3.1bn on hotels” in the financial year ending in March 2024 alone.

The three companies often act as middlemen – placing asylum seekers in hotels or other accommodation owned by firms in their networks. But our investigation has revealed that the Home Office’s most recent lists of all the subcontracted providers are five years out of date.

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‘Sheer torment’: Home Office apologises after asylum approvals retracted

15 July 2024: Guardian: ‘Sheer torment’: Home Office apologises after asylum approvals retracted

Some asylum seekers told to cut up residence permits after believing they had been granted leave to remain

The Home Office has apologised to asylum seekers granted leave to remain in the UK who then had their decisions retracted.

In some cases applicants were sent residence permits before being told by officials to cut them up.

Charities said they had seen a number of cases where people celebrated getting leave to remain and believed they were safe at last only to be told days or weeks later that a mistake had been made. Officials declined to say how many people had been affected by this error.

In one case an asylum seeker was jubilant after receiving a letter from Home Office officials stating: “Your claim for asylum has been successful and you have been granted refugee status and five years permission to remain in the UK.”

“I was so happy to receive this letter,” the asylum seeker said. “I and my family had been left in limbo for two years not knowing what was going to happen to me. But then a few weeks later I got another letter telling me the Home Office had made a mistake, that I hadn’t received refugee status after all and that I had to destroy the biometric residence permits they sent me.”

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Conditions at UK immigration removal centre ‘worst inspectors have seen’

9 July 2024: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor: Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre: drugs, despair and decrepit conditions

Report on an unannounced inspection of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (12–29 February 2024)

A copy of the full report, published on 9 July 2024, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre – HM Inspectorate of Prisons (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)

Inspectors returning to Harmondsworth IRC found the worst conditions they have seen in immigration detention.

Much of the accommodation was decrepit, violence and other unacceptable behaviour such as drug use had substantially increased and there had been numerous serious attempts at suicide in the centre.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor was so concerned that he wrote to the then Home Secretary shortly after the inspection setting out the many failures at the centre. He has received no response.

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Dear Prime Minister

8 July 2024: Asylum Matters: Joint Public Letter to the Incoming Prime Minister

Today, 300 organisations and over 500 individuals have written to the incoming Prime Minister urging him to fix our broken asylum system and to protect, rather than punish, people seeking safety.

Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on your election results on 4th July and on forming the new Government. We look forward to working with you.

We are writing to you as grassroots organisations and individuals grounded firmly in our communities across the UK. We are proud to welcome people seeking safety. For years, we have stepped in to support people who have been targeted and brutalised by hostile policies. We are now calling on your Government to take a new approach: protecting people seeking safety, rather than punishing them for political gain. 

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QARN next meetings

QARN meetings: next planned meeting dates: on Zoom on Saturdays: October 12th, and January 11th 2025.

We usually meet quarterly using Zoom and all Quakers are welcome. We plan to start at 10.30am to manage the technical aspects of a Zoom meeting, falling quiet at around 10.45am, and beginning business at 11am; and we aim to end around 12.30pm. The meeting link will  be available to those who receive our emails, but for other people, please contact us via info@qarn.org.uk giving your name, and the Quaker Meeting to which you are attached. Thank you.

We plan to hold our July 2025 AGM in Harrogate Quaker Meeting House.

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General Election 2024: For the Record

We look for justice and compassion in our asylum and immigration system, and truth, transparency and integrity in the work of this new Government

This is the Labour Party’s Immigration and Border Policy just prior to being elected into Government on 4 July 2024: https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/labours-immigration-and-border-policy-stop-small-boats/

This is our vision: QARN  What do Quakers hope for, after the 2024 General Election:

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Fair Begins Here

Together with Refugees: The Fair Begins Here Promise

June 17, 2024: Join the Fair Begins Here Promise (Organisations)

By signing the Fair Begins Here Promise your organisation is standing together with organisations up and down the country to reject the current hostility, demonstrate solidarity with refugees and commit to taking action to win a fair new plan for refugees. The Fair Begins Here Promise is open to sign-on to Together With Refugees members who want to be part of the Fair Begins Here campaign as well as groups across society – from sports clubs and libraries to trade unions and business – who are calling for a fair new plan for refugees.

Once you have signed, we will be sharing exciting opportunities for your organisation to let your local community know you are taking action as part of the Fair Begins Here Promise.

Read more: https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk/the-fair-begins-here-promise/