Opening Hearts through Arts

Updated 21 January 2022: ‘Hostile’ documentary film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njxBduqZeyA

and https://www.hostiledocumentary.com/ Sonita Gale is an independent producer and director. Sonita’s heritage is central to her storytelling. As a daughter of migrant parents, elevating the stories of migrants and marginalised communities has been at the forefront of her work.
Sonita has recently completed her directorial debut, Hostile, a feature length documentary exposing the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants living in the UK. Through the impact campaign for the film, Sonita hopes to influence change in immigration policies.

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New Plan for Immigration

We will collate reports of the Nationality & Borders Bill which has come out of the recent ‘New Plan for Immigration’; and reports related to Home Office practice.

When the will is there, it can be done – that is our point:

18 January 2022: Good Law Project: Nationality & Borders Bill: we asked the experts:

Today, we are publishing advice about the extension to the powers to strip Britons of their citizenship in the Nationality and Borders Bill. The advice was commissioned from some of the country’s leading immigration barristers, Raza Husain QC, Jason Pobjoy and Eleanor Mitchell, instructed by Leigh Day solicitors. We worked with Media Diversified and CAGE to commission it. 

The advice is conclusive, and alarming: 

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Impact of Covid-19 on migrants

Updated 19 January 2021: JCWI: “We also want to be safe” – undocumented migrants facing COVID in a Hostile Environment

Executive Summary

This report explores undocumented migrants’ experiences of the COVID pandemic. It focuses on financial security, work, housing and access to healthcare, and highlights how in all these areas, the Government’s Hostile Environment policies have exacerbated the effects of the COVID crisis for undocumented people.

Download the report

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Intervention by the Courts

Updated 17 January 2022Independent: Home Office threatened to deport asylum seekers for crimes they did not commit

The Home Office has been threatening asylum seekers with deportation for alleged crimes they did not commit, it has emerged.

Court of Appeal judgment revealed the existence of “notices of liability to detention”, which were handed to migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats.

The documents claimed they were “illegal entrants” and “may be liable to removal or deportation from the United Kingdom”.

[…] But judges said the Home Office had misinterpreted the law and that crossing the Channel by dinghy to seek asylum did not amount to illegal entry.

Evidence revealed during a successful appeal by asylum seekers who were wrongly jailed for steering small boats said “a number of the official documents” had been issued, and caused immigration interviews to “proceed on an erroneous basis”.

Judges found that a “heresy about the law” had originated among Home Office officials and been passed on to prosecutors, defence lawyers and the courts – sparking several unlawful prosecutions.

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‘Off-shoring’ people seeking asylum is not a new idea

Floating barriers, wave machines, old ferries, shipping people to far away places … Out of sight, out of mind!

The ‘backlog’ can be dealt with by giving people Leave to Remain now. This post is also uploaded to the http://statusnow4all.org website.

Updated 17 January 2022: City AM: Army to take control as govt plans to order Royal Navy to stop Channel migrants and fly asylum seekers to Rwanda and Ghana

The Prime Minister is planning to slow the flow of migrants into the UK by calling in the army and fly asylum seekers to a number of African countries, including Ghana and Rwanda, to process their applications there.

According to a report in The Times this morning, Boris Johnson plans to give the Royal Navy ‘primacy’ over all government-run and owned vessels in the Channel later this month.

A rear admiral will reportedly be given the powers to oversee the Border Force, coastguard, fisheries protection and customs and excise to carry out surveillance or intercept migrants that attempt to cross the Channel.

Read more: https://www.cityam.com/army-to-take-control-as-govt-plans-to-order-royal-navy-to-stop-channel-migrants-and-fly-asylum-seekers-to-rwanda-and-ghana/

See how Governments think it will work! …

Allan Olingo@allanolingo: RWANDA rejects 250,000 Covid-19 vaccines from Denmark over claims the donation was attached to Kigali accepting to host asylum centres for Denmark. The two countries’ officials met in September 2021 but Kigali has since rejected the vaccines and proposal-Danish media reports.” https://mobile.twitter.com/allanolingo/status/1482648556607524865

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“Shocking conditions” found in Kent holding facilities for asylum seekers: also RNLI

Updated 16 December 2021: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Report on an unannounced inspection of the detention of migrants at Dover and Folkestone Detention facilities: Tug Haven, Kent Intake Unit and Frontier House by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons 8 October and 1–3 November 2021

Introduction
This report covers inspections of the detention facilities at Tug Haven and Kent Intake Unit (KIU) in Dover, and Frontier House in Folkestone. The facilities mainly held people who had arrived from France on small boats after undertaking sea crossings from France. Several hundred people arrived at Tug Haven during the inspection and most went directly to immigration removal centres (IRCs) or hotel or hostel accommodation. The Home Office did not keep data on the length of time people spent at Tug Haven, but about 2,000 people, including over 700 unaccompanied children, had been held at KIU or Frontier House in the previous three months for an average of more than 26 hours. The longest detained person was held for over four days and the longest detained child had been held for over 90 hours.

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Young People

23 November 2021: Guardian: Performative cruelty’: UK treatment of refugees worst ever, says charity

Kent Refugee Action Network says young people arriving on south coast are a benefit, not a problem

On a windswept, bitingly cold day in Folkestone a discreet green portable building is a beacon of welcome on a stretch of the south coast patrolled by Border Force boats and self-proclaimed migrant hunters on the far right.

Inside its cheerfully decorated walls are workers from Kent Refugee Action Network. The organisation has supported young asylum seekers who arrive on the south coast for more than two decades.

Despite the plummeting temperatures and supposedly enhanced border patrols along the French coast, people continue to head for Kent’s shores in unseaworthy small boats.

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Plans to open ‘prison-style’ immigration camp on site of former Medomsley Detention Centre

Updated 23 November 2021: Re: Hassockfield/Consett/Derwentside immigration detention centre to house women will open by the end of 2021!

iNews: As migrant channel crossings hit a new record, insiders says centres like Yarl’s Wood can never be humane

For 20 years, Yarl’s Wood has been holding asylum seekers without time limits. Now a controversial new centre is replacing it to hold women. Is it time to call an end to detention?

Agnes Tanoh still remembers the fear of being taken into Yarl’s Wood, nearly a decade on. “You walk through the gates,” says the 65-year-old Ivorian refugee, “and the tunnel you take to reach the first office destroys your mind. I thought, ‘I am going somewhere I may never leave.’”

It was March 2012 when Tanoh was arrested and taken to the notorious immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire. After the disturbing ordeal of fleeing her home country the previous year, with her life at risk, she was incarcerated indefinitely as she awaited news of her fate.

“You haven’t defended yourself at trial,” she explains. “Being taken to a detention centre is being given a sentence without a time limit. It can be one week, three months, one year – you don’t know. Detention breaks families and causes distress and trauma.”

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The Observer view on Priti Patel’s fake migrant crisis

21 November 2021: Observer editorial: The home secretary fans rhetorical flames on asylum seekers and refugees, but the numbers disagree

[…] Patel gives the impression that there is an escalating crisis in terms of the numbers of people arriving in the UK and trying to illegitimately claim refuge. This is not true. There is absolutely a crisis for asylum seekers trying to reach British shores by making the treacherous Channel crossing in small boats and dinghies. The British government should be doing all it can to clamp down on the people traffickers making a fortune by charging desperate people to attempt the crossing. But the number of people coming to the UK to claim asylum fell by 4% last year and stands at less than half what it was in the early 2000s. Britain receives a fraction of the asylum applications of Germany and France and fewer per resident than the EU average. Low-income countries host nine out of 10 displaced people worldwide.

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ICIBI -an inspection of asylum casework (August 2020 – May 2021)

ICIBI – Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An inspection of asylum casework (August 2020 – May 2021) This report will have been with the Home Office for some time before its release. This report was sent to the Home Secretary on 23 July 2021.

18 November 2021: Publishing the report, David Neal said:

I welcome the publication of this report, which explored the efficacy of the Home Office’s ability to make timely and good quality asylum decisions. It examined resourcing, training, workflow, case progression and the prioritisation of cases, as well as the quality of interviews, decisions and quality assurance mechanisms.

The inspection began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While the pandemic had impacted asylum operations, most, if not all, of the issues identified by this inspection predate it. Primarily, the Home Office is still failing to keep on top of the number of asylum decisions it is required to make. The inspection found that the length of time asylum claimants had waited for a decision increased annually since 2011. In 2020, adult asylum claimants were waiting an average of 449 days. This increased to 550 days for unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

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