We are caught between a rock and a hard place. Asylum seekers - whether economic, refugee or climate change - are increasing. This has very little to do with UK politics per se, and everything to do with global changes in oppressive political regimes, as well as population levels, and climate change.
Much political hay is made by opposing politicians about this party's policies, that party's ineptitude, or the other party's downright uselessness. But the fact is, whoever is in govt would have - and has had - an extremely difficult time dealing with the issues.
The problem is going to get worse. Europe is perceived as a safe place, so unsurprisingly that is where many head for. Cf. the Global Compact for Migration.
- The NRPF Network is a network of local authorities and partner organisations focusing on the statutory response to migrants with care needs who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
- The Unity Project supports people who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
- Project 17 works to end destitution among migrant children.
- Electronic Immigration Network is a specialist provider of information on immigration and asylum case law.
|Apr.2018 Windrush||Apr.26: A report showed the Home Office set a target of 12,000 voluntary departures in 2015/16, up from 7,200 in 2014/15. The disclosure of the regional targets, split between 19 Immigration Compliance and Enforcement teams across the UK, contradicted evidence given by Amber Rudd to Parliament.|
Apr.25: At a hearing of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Ms Rudd said, "We don't have targets for removals. If you are asking me if there are numbers of people we expect to be removed, that's not how we operate." Her department's chief Immigration official also insisted the targets did not exist. Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Service Union, told Sky News: "Net removal targets certainly do exist, and I'm somewhat bemused as to why the Home Secretary would say they do not".
|Right to Rent: The govt introduced additional penalties and offences; landlords now face imprisonment and unlimited fines. A landlord will have committed a criminal offence if they know or "have reasonable cause to believe" that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who is disqualified due to their immigration status. If the landlord's agent knew their client was letting to a disqualified tenant, they are also committing a crime.|
|May.2016||Immigration Act 2016:|
|Right to Rent: The Immigration Act 2014 was rolled out countrywide; so much for "phased rollout". All private landlords must check tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.|
|Dec.2014||Right to Rent: First phase of the Immigration Act 2014 was rolled out in 5 local authorities in the West Midlands. Landlords and agents must check the immigration status of their prospective occupiers at the outset of the tenancy. Failure to do so could result in fines.|
|May.2014||Immigration Act 2014: introduced changes to the removals and appeals system, making it easier and faster to remove those with no right to remain; prevents illegal immigrants accessing and abusing public services or the labour market; prevents private landlords from renting to people without legal status, and prevents illegal immigrants from obtaining driving licenses and bank accounts. The Act stipulated that the provisions were to be implemented on a phased basis.|
|Right to Rent: The Immigration Bill was presented for its first reading by Theresa May, supported by David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne, Chris Grayling, Eric Pickles, Jeremy Hunt, Patrick McLoughlin, Francis Maude, Oliver Letwin, David Laws and Mark Harper. |
|Dec.2009||The Lisbon Treaty amended both the Treaty of Rome 1957 and the Maastricht Treaty 1992. In order to avoid submitting to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and to enforcement actions by the European Commission, the UK negotiated an opt-out which allowed them the option of a block withdrawal from all 3rd pillar measures they had previously chosen to participate in. In Oct.2012 the govt announced its intention to exercise this opt-out and then selectively opt back into certain measures.|
|Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009: people from outside the European Economic Area had to have residential status for 8 years before being eligible for naturalisation. Those seeking naturalisation through wedlock had to be married for 5 years first. Immigration and Customs officers could perform some of each other's roles. A duty was imposed on the Home Secretary to safeguard children. (Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009)|
|Oct.2007||UK Borders Act 2007 gave the UK Border Agency powers to tackle illegal working, and to automatically deport foreign nationals imprisoned for specific offences, or for more than one year. Immigration officers were given police-like powers, such as increased detention and a search-and-entry roles. The act brought in compulsory biometric cards for non-EU immigrants. (UK Borders Act 2007)|
|Mar.2006||Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006: created a 5-tier points system for awarding entry visas. Those refused work or study visas had their rights of appeal limited. The Act brought in on-the-spot fines of £2,000, payable by employers for each illegal employee, which could include parents taking on nannies without visas. (Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006)|
|May.2004||EU Enlargement: Ten new member states joined the EU, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe. A transitional period of 7 years was established for member states to decide when they were ready to open their labour markets to the new EU citizens. However, the UK did so immediately, alongside Sweden and Ireland. The govt assumed that other member states would also do so, but they did not. The estimated inflows were between 5,000-18,000 migrants; in the event, it was more than 20 times higher.|
The decision was part of a wider agenda to do with diplomacy. Britain was a keen supporter - a "driver" of accession of Central and Eastern European countries into the EU from early on, with Margaret Thatcher setting the precedent. This was principally due to trading ties and a foreign policy interest in forging alliances with these states at the EU level.
|Apr.2004||Freedom of Movement: EU Directives allowed govts to control the movement of EU citizens by limiting free circulation to 3 months, then requiring them to show they are working, a registered student or have sufficient resources to support themselves plus comprehensive sickness insurance. Theresa May was Home Office Secretary between May.2010-Jul.2016, but did nothing to adopt these conditions.|
|2003||Freedom of Movement: With the forthcoming access of 10 new member states to the EU in mind, Blair's govt asked academics to assess the likely levels of immigration from countries in central and eastern Europe that were noticeably less well off. The Home Office report did not predict a dramatic increase in immigration from Europe. The report predicted that Britain would receive between 5,000-13,000 net immigrants per year, averaged over a 20-year period, from the new member states iff all 15 EU countries opened their labour markets together.|
|2002||Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002: created the first English test and citizenship exam for immigrants and introduced measures against bogus marriages.|
|Nov.1999||Immigration and Asylum Act 1999: overhauled the asylum process. Removed welfare benefits from asylum seekers; restricted "sham" marriages; and provided a new legal framework for detention of asylum seekers. The powers of immigration officers to arrest and detain people were increased, and the use of immigration detention expanded. The Act also provided for the creation of the National Asylum Support Service to house them, taking pressure off local authorities. The Act was introduced in response to a rapid rise in the number of asylum seekers, in the hope of stemming the tide by discouraging economic migrants from abusing the system.|
No Recourse to Public Funds: §115 refused ‘recourse to public funds’ to persons ‘subject to immigration control’, irrespective of how long they had beeen working and paying taxes in the UK.
|Barbara Roche was appointed Asylum & Immigration Minister at the Home Office. Allthough Roche had a very tough stance on asylum-seekers, she quietly adopted policies to encourage immigration, with Blair's approval.|
|Asylum and Immigration Act 1996: It became a criminal offence to employ anyone unless they had permission to live and work in the UK. (Asylum and Immigration Act 1996)|
|1993-2003||Freedom of Movement was not an issue, as income levels in most member states were roughly the same.|
|Immigration Act 1988: ensured that only one wife or widow of a polygamous marriage had a right to enter the country. It also ensured people with FoM in the European Community did not need leave to enter or remain in the UK.|
|1970s‑1992||Freedom of Movement was initially intended only for the economically active. However, it was gradually expanded over time, primarily by citizens challenging national administrative decisions in the European Court of Justice. FoM came to be guaranteed for all nationals of members states, finalised with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which created the EU and introduced the concept of a common European citizenship.|
|The Oil crisis put an end to the open-door policy for migrant workers, who were welcomed when the economy needed them but were expected to leave when times were hard. However, to the surprise of the host nations, most of them had come to stay; and had invited their families to join them. Max Frisch: "We asked for workers, but human beings came."|
|Immigration Act 1971: halted the permanent migration of workers from the Commonwealth. Commonwealth citizens lost their automatic right to remain in the UK; only persons born in the UK, and persons who had resided there for 5+ years, were entitled to remain. A partial "right of abode" was introduced, lifting restrictions on immigrants with a direct personal or ancestral connection with Britain.|
|Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968: amended the 1962 Act, further reducing rights of Commonwealth of Nations citizens. It also limited the right of entry of Commonwealth citizens to those born in the UK or who had a parent or grandparent born there. The Act was passed in response to large numbers of Asians from Kenya - originally brought there by the British to build railways - fleeing to the UK due to the President of Kenya's "Africanisation" project.|
|Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962: specified that Commonwealth citizens with no connection to the UK were subject to immigration control. Commonwealth citizens who resided in the UK, or had resided there between 1960-1962 were exempted; as were citizens who were born in the UK or held a British passport. Wives and children under 16 were also exempted.|
|Freedom of Movement: Europe experienced a period of intense economic growth after WWII. Labour mobility was encouraged, due to the lack of skilled workers; freedom of movement of qualified industrial workers was therefore included in the treaties founding the European Economic Community (predecessor of the EU). At the time, FoM was envisaged as being on a temporary basis.|
|1948-1970||Windrush Generation: After World War II, the UK faced huge labour shortages and was desperate for help to rebuild shattered infrastructure and get public services running again. A wave of invited immigration from the West Indies began, with nearly half a million people coming to live in the UK.|
|British Nationality Act 1948: gave the status of "Citizen of the UK and Colonies" to everyone who was a British subject and connected with the UK or a British colony.|
|1914-1918||World War I: Foreigners crossing borders were a security concern, and passports and visas were introduced in Europe, for the first time.|
|British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914: gave the common status of British subject to people who had specified connections with the Crown's dominions.|
|Pre-1914||There were virtually no border controls or restrictions to labour mobility across the continent.|
Right to Rent
- Jun.06.2018: Government faces high court challenge over 'right to rent' scheme. Campaigners win permission to fight landlords’ immigration checks on prospective tenants. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), a long-time critic of the hardline policy – now renamed the “compliant environment” – sought permission from the high court to challenge the “right to rent” scheme. The Guardian, Peter Walker.
- Jun.03.2018: Legal challenge says ‘right to rent’ rules discriminate against non-UK nationals. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants argues that status checks make landlords favour those with British passports. Plans to force landlords across Britain to check the immigration status of potential tenants will be challenged in court this week after claims that they are causing serious discrimination. Landlords, politicians and immigration lawyers have all raised concerns about the “right to rent” policy, a key branch of the govt’s attempt to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. Under the rules landlords face fines, or even prison, should they house people with no right to be in the country. There is now evidence that landlords are ignoring tenancy applications from people with “foreign-sounding” names, from ethnic minorities, and from those without British passports. Choosing someone with a British passport means landlords do not have to carry out additional online checks. Ministers will face a legal challenge in the high court this week in a case brought by the JCEI. Another survey by the Residential Landlords Association of ~2,800 landlords found that 43% were less likely to rent to anyone without a UK passport, and 46% less likely to rent to a foreign national from outside the EU. The “right to rent” proposals have been controversial since their inception under the coalition govt. Eric Pickles, the former Conservative communities secretary, was among those who opposed their introduction. They have since been rolled out across England, but not yet to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RLA, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Shelter, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, and Liberty are amongst the groups to have raised concerns. The Guardian, Michael Savage.
The Hostile Environment
- NHS denied treatment for migrants who can’t afford upfront charges. Nov.08.2018
- 'Asylum support': accommodation and financial support for asylum seekers: govt proposals to change asylum support entitlements, Oct.2015
- Inquiry into Angel Group's asylum contracts, Aug.2005
- Termination of NASS Contract with Landmark Liverpool Ltd, Mar.2004
- Asylum service criticised, Jul.2003
- May.07.2020: Home Office's denial of benefits to migrant families unlawful, court rules. Eight-year-old boy took case to high court, arguing NRPF policy increased public health risks. The judgs ruled that the Home Office policy denying families like his access to the welfare safety net is unlawful. The Guardian, Diane Taylor.
- Jan.31.2020: No Recourse to Public Funds ('NRPF') Policy Developments. The Unity Project's report in Jun.2019 raised “acute child welfare concerns”. The govt refused to publish its internal NRPF policy review "Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)-compliant review". The Legal 500.
- Jan.03.2019: The Guardian view on Channel crossings: a failure of humanity, not controls. The increase in arrivals by small boats is alarming given the risks to the travellers. It does not constitute a ‘migration crisis’. That adults and children are risking their lives to cross the Channel’s shipping lanes in small and flimsy vessels is frightening. That they seek a new home in Britain is not. Home secretary Sajid Javid cut short a holiday, declared a “major incident”, redirected two Border Force cutters from the Mediterranean and requested the Royal Navy’s help. The right-wing press talk of a “migration crisis”, evoking the surge in migration to Europe in 2015. If there is a crisis at all, it is of the govt’s inhumanity and incomprehension on immigration and asylum issues, so fully exposed by the Windrush scandal and other incidents. Sajid Javid is taking the opportunity to play the electorate, given there might be a Tory party leadership in the offing. The Guardian, Editorial.
- Dec.29.2018: Nigerian airline furious at 'losing £180,000 a day after pilot forced to leave because of hostile environment policy'. Max Air's captain was detained for questioning, fingerprinted and photographed before being told he would be forcibly removed – even though pilots do not legally require leave to enter the UK for 7 days or less (Immigration Act 1971). “They suspected the co-pilot was the real pilot because he has a visa in his passport and the captain is a stowaway posing as a captain. So they arrested him for entering into the UK without a visa.” Captain Ibrahim has previously flown in and out of the UK without problems. The Independent, Peter Stubley.
- Nov.29.2018: Government set to relax restrictions on non-EU doctors. Ministers agree to increase number of doctors allowed to work in UK under medical training initiative. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has been lobbying the Home Office over the issue in recent months. He recently wrote to Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, to suggest the change and has played a key role in making it happen. The Guardian, Denis Campbell.
- Nov.19.2018: My deal will control migration without hitting jobs, says PM. European citizens will no longer be able to “jump the queue” for jobs in Britain, Theresa May will pledge today as she attempts to shore up political support for her troubled Brexit blueprint. In a speech to the CBI she will claim that the deal will fulfil the central aim of the referendum campaign to control immigration while still allowing businesses the ability to recruit from overseas. “The difference will be this: once we have left the EU, we will be fully in control of who comes here,” she will say. “It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi. The Times, Oliver Wright.
- Oct.26.2018: Javid apologises for migrant DNA tests. Home Office officials have been illegally requiring DNA samples from people seeking to visit or stay in Britain because of the govt’s “hostile environment” policy. Sajid Javid told MPs that 83 applicants had to give DNA as part of a 2016 operation investigating fraud, and 51 relatives of Gurkhas had to do the same and pay for their own tests. Afghan translators were also included in a mandatory testing scheme. As home secretary in 2014, Theresa May restricted what border officials could legally demand of applicants for visas or for leave to remain. However, a Home Office report published yesterday revealed that some officials had been routinely requiring DNA data, with at least 449 requests for DNA being issued to migrants. The Times, Francis Elliott.
- Aug.21.2018: Court says seriously ill woman can work while fighting UK deportation. Nigerian woman wins right to work and have full access to NHS during ruling on immigration status. Economic migrants forced into destitution by a law forbidding them to work, rent property or use the NHS have been handed a lifeline after a “David and Goliath” battle in the court of appeal. Kehinde originally came to the UK in 2007 to study, but in 2016 – earning £38,000 a year – she applied for indefinite leave to remain. The Home Office refused her application on the basis of a discrepancy in her 2010/2011 tax return. Under paragraph 322(5) of the immigration rules, Kehinde immediately became ineligible for any UK visa. She was allowed to stay and fight her case but not to work or have full use of the NHS. Unable to afford legal representation, Kehinde fought her own battle through the courts to persuade the Home Office to reinstate her right to work while her immigration status was being decided. The judges told the Home Office it was wrong to deprive Kehinde of her access to essential services and said she could immediately return to her job as a technical manager in the food industry. The Guardian, Amelia Hill.
- Jul.23.2018: NHS protest: how ‘hostile’ migrant charging policy came into being. The Guardian, Denis Campbell.
- May.20.2018: Home Office faces pressure over deportation of highly skilled migrants. MPs and member of Lords make separate calls for end to ‘repugnant’ use of paragraph 322(5) of immigration law. A group of ~20 MPs and a House of Lords member are establishing separate pressure groups to persuade the Home Office to stop deporting highly skilled migrants by using a paragraph of the immigration rules designed to tackle terrorism and people judged to be a threat to national security. Lord Dick Taverne QC says he will launch a campaign to lobby the Home Office until it ceases. The group, Highly Skilled Migrants, which has raised about £40,000 to challenge the Home Office in the courts, has helped 10 migrants challenge the govt over their use of 322(5) in the last six months. Nine won their cases, with the appeal judges ruling the govt’s use of paragraph 322(5) was wrong. Steve Reed MP is setting up the group of MPs. Another member of the group is Alison Thewliss MP. The Guardian, Amelia Hill.
- May.26.2018: Afghan interpreters working for UK army ‘failed’ by government. The govt has “dismally failed” to protect Afghans who worked as interpreters for the British Army and are now at risk from the Taliban and Islamic State, according to a Commons Select Defence Committee report. The study criticises the Home Office and Ministry of Defence for not fulfilling obligations towards thousands of Afghans who worked for British forces, many of them on the frontline. Home secretary Sajid Javid bowed to pressure over 150 interpreters seeking indefinite leave to remain in the UK, including waiving a £2,389 application fee. There have been no such concessions for many others who have made it to the UK or who are still in Afghanistan where they are targeted by the Taliban or Isis. According to the report, not a single Afghan has been relocated as part of the intimidation scheme. Supporters of the interpreters, including former British officers, express concern the interpreters may be victims of the Home Office drive to reduce immigration. The Guardian, Ewen macAskill.
- Apr.2018: A Guide To The Hostile Environment. The border controls dividing our communities – and how we can bring them down. Since 2010, the govt has launched attacks on the human rights of undocumented people in the UK through a set of ‘hostile environment’ policies. These brutal policies prevent people from accessing housing, healthcare, education, work, bank accounts, benefits and even drivers’ licences. They were dreamt up by the Cameron/Clegg Coalition Govt's “hostile environment working group”, and are implemented primarily by the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. Liberty.
- Apr.26.2018: Amber Rudd’s Wenger task: convincing people she isn’t the problem. Rudd has endured a week far worse than anything Arsenal have had to put up with under Arsène Wenger: a grilling in front of the home affairs select committee in which she came close to misleading Parliament, more horror stories about her department and its treatment of Commonwealth Britons, and a gaffe about whether or not the United Kingdom will remain in a customs union after Brexit. The iNews, Stephen Bush.
- Apr.24.2018: 'Beyond belief': Brexit app for EU nationals won't work on iPhones. Home Office officials have admitted a mobile phone app for EU nationals seeking to stay in the UK after Brexit will not work on iPhones, because Apple will not enable its technology to read the chip on modern passports. Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said one official suggested applicants could “borrow someone else’s” phone to complete the registration. The group of officials were in Brussels to demonstrate to MEPs the functions of the new Home Office app in order to build confidence. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said he would be writing to Theresa May this week about a series of wider concerns, including the £72 cost of registering, and the need for every member of a family to individually apply for settled status. London MEP Claude Moraes, chair of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, said he was deeply concerned that the govt was registering EU citizens on the basis of secondary rather than primary legislation, allowing the laws to be changed in the future. Under the withdrawal agreement, EU nationals will have recourse to the European Court of Justice should they have complaints about their treatment, but the scandal over the Windrush generation has illustrated the dangers in the longer term. The Guardian, Daniel Boffey, Lisa O'Carroll.
- Apr.16.2018: Amber Rudd 'sorry' for appalling treatment of Windrush-era citizens. Amber Rudd, the home secretary has delivered an unprecedented apology for the “appalling” actions of her own department towards Windrush-era citizens, acknowledging that the Home Office had “lost sight of individuals” and become “too concerned with policy”. "What is the Widnrush Deportation Crisis" + Timeline. The Guardian, Amelia Gentleman. See also "Hostile Environment" Windrush Deportaitons now new - as chilling archive video shows
- Apr.20.2018: Theresa May told officials to 'toughen up' controversial 'go home' immigration vans. A former senior Home Office official told Business Insider that Theresa May personally intervened to ensure the controversial "go home or face arrest" immigration vans were "toughened up". The source rubbishes claims by May's former chief of staff Nick Timothy that May had actually been opposed to their use and that they had been approved without her knowledge. Business Insider, Thomas Colson und Adam Bienkov.
- Apr.09.2018: Rights groups decry Theresa May's 'hostile environment' immigration policy. Human rights groups published a report laying bare the extent to which the govt’s “hostile environment” immigration policies have spread into all areas of UK life, encouraging “discriminatory” and “racist” behaviour. The report, by Liberty, the National Union of Students and the Migrants Rights Network, shows immigration controls are embedded in the UK’s public services. The govt-sponsored hostility to migrants approach was spearheaded by Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary, and largely enforced through the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. The govt now requires employers, landlords, private sector workers, NHS staff and other public servants – often unwillingly – to check a person’s status before they can offer them a job, housing, healthcare or other support. The report outlines several ways that people working across all sectors in the UK can help diminish the behaviour, saying: "The govt’s attempt to create a hostile environment is dependent on the willing participation of people across society – but that will also be its downfall. As long as we refuse to participate, we can fight the govt's attempts to turn us into border guards. We can fight for a country that guarantees people’s human rights, whoever they are and wherever they come from." The Guardian, Diane Taylor.
- Feb.01.2018: May's move to restrict new EU migrants after Brexit is long planned. Limiting role of EU migrants to that of temporary workforce is a policy that has been brewing. The Guardian, Alan Travis.
- Aug.24.2017: ONS admits: "No evidence that non-EU students overstay their visa". The UK's statistical watchdog the ONS confirmed "No evidence". Of those whose visas expired in 2016 and 2017, ~69% of international students left; and 26% extended their visas for further study or for other reasons such as work. The remaining 5% have no identified record of departure or extension, or appeared to depart after their visa had expired. City AM, Catherine Neilan.