YET ANOTHER RULING AGAINST THE HOME OFFICE

The High Court has made yet another damning judgement against the Home Office saying that they were unlawful.

The case this week was about delays in relocating disabled asylum seekers into accommodation suitable for them and their initial provision of support.   It also slammed them for failures in monitoring housing contractors’ performance in securing the accommodation.  It was about highly vulnerable asylum seekers who had disabilities and serious illnesses and were left homeless and without support.

You can read the whole of the judgement here https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2020/3416.pdf.

Some of the words clearly condemn the whole culture of disbelief, such as the judge saying “I regret to come from this review with the sense that the worst is assumed of the claimants, with no room for reflection that there may be good reasons or if there is fault that it may lie elsewhere.

On monitoring the contracts these words were recorded “Enforcement by way of later financial penalty provides incentive to perform.  However, it is only enforcement that actually remedies a detected breach that brings about the accommodation required in a particular case. The context is crucial, i.e. the performance by a Secretary of State of her accepted legal duty to claimants who are destitute, face an imminent prospect of serious suffering caused or materially aggravated by denial of shelter, food or the most basic necessities of life, and are “highly vulnerable”. However suitable it might be in other contexts, it is not, for example, clear that expecting a service improvement plan only after “persistent failures … for three consecutive months” appreciates the context.”

To sum up the Judge said “Finally, I add that I have been struck by how confrontational these cases have been. I have seen the same when sitting in the Administrative Court in other cases about accommodation, often applications seeking urgent interim relief the argument on behalf of the Secretary of State in this litigation inclined to reject challenge far more often than to acknowledge failings.”  He ends with the words that we heartily endorse:

“I respectfully urge that everything that has happened in the cases before this Court helps show that what is needed now, on all sides, is cooperative, constructive, collaborative engagement, including over data and monitoring, towards a system that wins confidence and respect.”

There is also an article in the Independent covering the case https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/asylum-seekers-home-office-homeless-disabled-b1773391.html

CITY OF SANCTUARY UK, GUIDE TO USE OF LANGUAGE

City of Sanctuary say:

“We have produced this suggested guide as a working document to encourage consistency and a mindful approach to the use of non-dehumanising language in line with our values (Inclusiveness, Openness, Participation, Inspiring and Integrity) and principles (see the City of Sanctuary Charter) across all City of Sanctuary content.”

https://cityofsanctuary.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Guide-to-Use-of-Language-and-Terminology-Dec2020.pdf.

we think it is important and useful and urge people to save it and use it where possible.

Changes to the Immigration Rules another breach of international law

What a way to mark #internationalhumanrightsday2020

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael has slammed the Government’s latest changes to the Immigration Rules as “against everything the UK stands for” and “yet another breach of international law”.
The changes, published today, which will allow the Home Office to reject asylum applications if the person has passed through another “safe” country on their way to the UK.
Alistair Carmichael said:
“The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative Government is turning its back on refugees.
“This latest nasty policy from Priti Patel goes against our commitments under the Refugee Convention and against everything the UK stands for. It’s yet another breach of international law by this irresponsible Tory Government.
“Everyone wants to stop people making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel, but the best way to do that is with safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK. Sadly, Priti Patel has closed down those routes.
“We must do all we can to protect people forced to flee their homes to escape war and persecution. The UK should welcome them with compassion and treat them with dignity.”

FAMILY REUNON IN THE IMMIGRATION BILL

Baroness Sally Hamwee writes to explain the complications of the latest “ping pong” of the slow progress on Family Reunion.

Parliamentary procedures are generally logical but often also opaque, so it’s no wonder that people have been asking what happened to the amendment on safe and legal routes, family reunion and unaccompanied asylum seeking children which the Commons had rejected.

In the Lords the Liberal Democrats had supported Alf Dubs’ amendment twice. For this third round, the Government proposed as a compromise the clause I’ve copied below. Lord Dubs decided to accept it. I have to say I would very much have liked to insist on what he had proposed – but the art of the possible and all that.

The Government’s new clause is missing a lot of very significant detail. The review has no objectives. It has no timetable (the three months mentioned is just the period within which the Government has to publish details about how the review will be undertaken). It doesn’t provide for consultation other than regarding unaccompanied children (of course I don’t deny the importance of that).

We will be thrown back on guidance (unenforceable) and rules (unamendable) – and, it appears, they will be the existing rules with all their problems: Family with status need to be able to support the person seeking to join them. The difficulty of demonstrating that a child is in an unsafe environment. Getting a child to a visa application centre to make an application under the rules, and fees which, under one of the paragraphs of the rules, are well over £3,000. I made these perhaps slightly random points in the debate because, without more, they show the importance of consultation on the whole situation.

It is beyond me that what is necessary now is to show “serious and compelling family or other considerations which make exclusion of the child undesirable”. Putting it that way round, rather than the converse, that a child should be given asylum unless there is an overwhelming reason to the contrary (hard to think of any), has always seemed perverse to me. So, too, is the policy that an application under Article 8 of the European Convention, on the right to family life, will not succeed unless there are “exceptional circumstances” with refusal resulting in “unjustifiably harsh consequences”.

But I should end on one positive note. The Minister confirmed that “any person who has applied under Dublin will have a route open to them, as long as the sponsor has the relevant status”.

We are promised (or threatened) with a “Fair Borders Bill” early next year. There is much that should be made more fair about border enforcement, but then the Home Secretary and I may not share views as to what is fair and right.

Baroness Sally Hamwee

The provision which the Government inserted in the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill is:

“Protection claimants: legal routes from the EU and family reunion

(1) The Secretary of State must review, or arrange for a review of, the ways in which protection claimants who are in a member State are able to enter the United Kingdom lawfully.

(2) For the purposes of this section a “protection claimant” is a person who—

(a) has made an application for international protection to a member State, or

(b) is not a national of a member State and is seeking to come to the United Kingdom from a member State for the purpose of making a protection claim.

(3) The review under subsection (1) must, in particular—

(a) consider the position of unaccompanied children in member States who are protection claimants and are seeking to come to the United Kingdom to join relatives there, and

(b) include a public consultation on that aspect of the review.

(4) The Secretary of State must, within the period of three months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, lay before Parliament a statement providing further details about the review under subsection (1) and, in particular, about the aspect of the review described in subsection (3).

(5) After the review, the Secretary of State must—

(a) prepare a report on the outcome of the review or arrange for such a report to be prepared, and

(b) publish the report and lay it before Parliament.

(6) In this section—

“application for international protection” has the meaning given by Article 2(h) of Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on standards for the qualification of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted;

“protection claim” has the same meaning as in Part 5 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (see section 82(2) of that Act);

“relative”, in relation to an unaccompanied child, means a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother or sister of the child;

“unaccompanied child” means a person under the age of 18 (“the child”) who is not in the care of a person who—

(a) is aged 18 or over, and

(b) by law or custom of the country or territory in which the child is present, has responsibility for caring for the child.”

 

LIB DEMS CONDEMN TORY INACTION ON CHANNEL CROSSINGS

The Liberal Democrats have condemned Conservative refusal to address Channel crossings after Tory MPs voted down this week an amendment to secure safe and legal routes for refugees and asylum seekers. Despite this amendment having cross party support in the House of Lords, Conservative MPs voted to remove it from the Bill by 333 votes to 264.

Speaking in the debate on Family Reunion, Alistair Carmichael MP said “How bad have things got to be before any parent would consider the possibility of going to sea at this time of year, knowing the possible consequences that we saw in the channel so very recently? My colleagues & I will never pass up an opportunity to put the case for the creation of safe and legal routes”.

Tim Farron MP added “I often hear people talk about the pull factor, but there is a push factor, for pity’s sake. Those people will try to find a way to our shores by a safe and legal way, or by utterly brutal and dangerous ways, unless we provide those safe routes.”

The family of five Iranian Kurds who died most recently in the attempt to find sanctuary in the UK were certainly driven to risk the Channel crossing by the lack of any safe alternative. It is Lib Dem policy and has been for years to provide safe and legal routes. We will carry on pushing for this until it is Government policy too. Any Government that wished to respect the UK’s commitments under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees would agree.

Carmichael condemns unlawful Home Office immigration policy

Yet again the Court of Appeal has deemed Home Office actions unlawful.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP, has today condemned the Home Secretary following a ruling by the Court of Appeal that government policies used for the removal of migrants were unlawful. Mr Carmichael noted that approximately 40,000 cases had been handled under the rejected regulations, saying that it was part of a pattern of unlawful behaviour by ministers.

Speaking in the House Mr Carmichael said:

Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that Home Office regulations used for the removal of people under immigration rules were ‘unlawful’ – rules that have been used in an estimated 40,000 cases. Why has the Home Secretary not come to the House to make a statement in relation to this judgment, or are the views of the judges of the Court of Appeal now just to be dismissed as a bunch of leftie lawyers?”

Responding for the government, the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said:

Mr Speaker, the Home Secretary has the greatest respect for our judicial processes, as do all members of Her Majesty’s Government. There will be legislation on this matter coming forward, which the Home Secretary has announced, which will no doubt increase the clarity over the Immigration Law.”

Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

The Home Secretary has said that the system is failing – it is now clear why that is. A government that cannot follow the law is not fit to be in power. When the government fails so consistently on so many fronts it is hard to take them seriously when they cast blame on others. We need a clear, sensible and humane system for immigration and under the Tories we simply will not get it.”

NOTE

There have been no less than SIX instances in the last 18 months where the Home Office has been ruled by a court to have acted unlawfully in its dealings with Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

Home Office acting illegally examples This briefing note gives extracts from our newsletters.

All this is yet more evidence that the Home Office is not fit for purpose. The Liberal Democrats will strip it of its powers over immigration and asylum and set up a new, arms-length body to process applications fairly and lawfully.

http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/1667 Gives more information on how Lib Dems would radically change how decisions are made and transfer of functions from Home Office.