Difficulty registering asylum claim – petition to Damian Green

The Leicester City of Sanctuary group is most concerned about the situation facing newly arrived asylum seekers as they try to claim asylum.  You can circulate this petition, and send it to your own MPs.

Leicester City of Sanctuary Petition to Damian Green MP, Immigration Minister

We the undersigned are becoming more and more concerned by the increasing difficulties would-be asylum seekers face in registering their claims. First the system of postal registration was scrapped and there was a requirement that all asylum seekers should register in person at either Liverpool or Croydon. Then the Liverpool office closed and everyone had to go to Croydon – this obviously penalised people who arrived in the north of the country. Now we find that it takes longer and longer to get an appointment at Croydon. Three months ago the waiting time was a week – now it is two. People are only seen between 8am and 1pm which is obviously very inconvenient if you have some distance to travel to get there. Phone numbers of the relevant officers are frequently changed increasing the difficulty of making appointments.

As a result, vulnerable new arrivals often find themselves destitute for two weeks or more before they can make a claim. New asylum seekers are often confused and disorientated, struggling with a strange language in a strange land and at serious risk of exploitation by unscrupulous people or of ending up in the hands of the police – only the lucky few find their way to charities that will advise and support them.

It seems to us that, along with a culture of disbelief in the validity of most asylum claims, and the misplaced idea that reducing people to destitution will somehow persuade them to go home, there is now a deliberate policy of making it difficult for people to apply for asylum in the first place. This is a shameful state of affairs and tarnishes Britain’s reputation for fairness and justice. It also makes a nonsense of the requirement that people should apply for asylum within 24 hours of arriving in this country. We would urge you to reconsider the way you implement this policy.

January 2011