Displaying items by tag: asylum seekers
Robert Jenrick has resigned as the UK's immigration minister due to disagreements about the Government's new proposed Rwanda legislation, which he believes does not offer sufficient protections to end legal challenges that hinder the scheme. He stated that he found the proposal inadequate for successful implementation, describing it as ‘a triumph of hope over experience’. Sunak expressed disappointment, emphasising the risk of collapsing the scheme by entirely excluding the courts. The Rwanda option, aimed at deterring Channel crossings by asylum seekers, has faced delays and legal challenges, with no transfers as yet. The new bill seeks to circumvent the UK Supreme Court's ruling against the plan by limiting the applicability of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and other laws. However, it stops short of overriding the entire HRA and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as some Conservative MPs desired. Labour's Yvette Cooper criticised the chaotic situation, highlighting the government's struggles. The bill’s potential success seems uncertain amid legal challenges and political divisions within the Conservative party.
The UK Home Office has lost track of over 17,000 asylum seekers after their claims were discontinued, a concern raised during a discussion about Rishi Sunak's goal to clear the asylum backlog by year's end. The claims were withdrawn because the individuals failed to respond to interview requests or questionnaires. In 2021, 2,141 applications were refused or withdrawn, a significant decrease from 24,403 in 2004. When an application is withdrawn, the individual becomes illegal in the UK and is subject to removal. The Government, confident about meeting its target, has increased caseworker numbers. However, the significant rise in withdrawn claims raises concerns about conveniently meeting targets. The Home Office is also negotiating a treaty with Rwanda following the Supreme Court's ruling against their plan to send asylum seekers there, citing risks of violation of UK and international human rights laws. There is also uncertainty about the total amount paid to Rwanda, with more details expected in the summer, making it challenging to scrutinise the policy's costs effectively.
Rishi Sunak has pledged to enact emergency legislation and forge a new treaty with Rwanda to ensure the continuation of his key asylum policy, despite the Supreme Court's ruling against it. The plan had been to deport illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda, but the court expressed concerns that they might face the risk of being returned to their countries of origin, violating international law. Sunak now plans to convert the Rwanda agreement into a treaty to guarantee that relocated asylum seekers remain there. Controversially, he also wants to designate Rwanda as 'safe,' which would not be challengeable in UK courts. However, this legislation would not supersede the European Court of Human Rights, which could still block the flights. The PM’s stance raises significant questions about the UK's adherence to human rights laws.
The first asylum-seekers have been transferred to the controversial Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge. Dozens of others had their transfers cancelled after issues were raised, including mental and physical health. The Care4Calais charity said none of the people they supported - disabled, torture survivors and modern slavery victims - had been moved. In a report, a long-serving firefighter called the Bibby Stockholm a ‘major life risk’ and warned that most fire engines in the nearby area are ‘on call’ only, slowing down response times. The fire brigades’ union has written to the home secretary, raising concerns over an emergency response and demanding an urgent meeting but have not received a reply. Also, authorities and firefighters have issued formal warnings about inadequate fire evacuation protocols for the vessel, which contains 222 cabins lining narrow corridors over three decks. Asylum-seekers who arrived before March will transfer from hotels, not directly from Dover. Their notification documents do not state clearly that the Bibby Stockholm is a barge.
A reporter posing as an economic migrant found immigration law firm staff briefing clients how to lie to the authorities to stay in Britain. They were willing to help him get refugee status despite being told he had no legitimate reason to stay in the UK. One lawyer asked for £10,000 to invent a backstory for him, including claims of sexual torture, beatings, slave labour, false imprisonment and death threats making him suicidal and compelled to flee to the UK. He promised a doctor’s report to back up the story and antidepressants to give to the Home Office as ‘evidence’ of mental trauma. Another lawyer promised to ‘create the evidence’ to make it appear the reporter had a genuine fear of ‘persecution and assassination’ if he returned home. He boasted of a success rate of over 90% with similar asylum cases. Immigrants face jail for making false asylum claims, whereas solicitors facilitating and profiting from them only face professional sanctions.
Pope Francis has called on leaders to show compassion for refugees fleeing war, persecution, or poverty. Instead of ensuring they reach safety, the UK government has introduced a new 'Illegal Migration Bill' which would shut the door on people needing protection and enable the government to deport them to countries such as Rwanda - a policy the Court of Appeal has ruled unlawful. The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) wants people to ask their MPs to oppose the bill so that we can welcome those who need protection. This landmark intervention on domestic policy refers to the Pope's call for the need to show maximum respect for the dignity of each migrant and ‘build bridges not walls’ as well as ‘expanded channels for a safe and regular migration.’ But CAFOD said that instead of showing respect and dignity, the UK government is trying to make the situation for people seeking safety even worse.
The Home Office (HO) is leaving British people homeless by outbidding local councils for accommodation. HO contractors are bidding for accommodation for asylum seekers, while the number of British people having to stay in temporary accommodation is near record levels. Asked on three separate occasions why its contractor paid more than councils can afford, the HO refused to comment. The problem is most acute in London, where 166,000 people are in temporary lodgings - more than the population of Oxford. There was no suggestion that the HO or asylum-seekers created the problem, but it is contributing to homelessness. The councils are spending £52m a month on temporary accommodation and will not outbid each other, because they want to protect taxpayers. There needs to be the same partnership with the HO. Pray for housebuilders to invest in building more affordable housing.
Justin Welby has said the Illegal Migration Bill would not stop small boat crossings, and it fails in our moral responsibility towards refugees. The archbishop and nearly 90 peers will speak in the House of Lords debate. He said the bill ‘fails utterly’ to take the long-term view of migration challenges globally. He agreed existing international law needs updating, but the bill is a ‘short-term fix which risks great damage to the UK's interests and reputation, at home and abroad’. He was speaking as the bill begins what is expected to be a rocky passage through the House of Lords as the government does not have a majority there. The home secretary is urging peers to get behind the legislation. The bill is a key part of Rishi Sunak's plan to ‘stop’ small boats crossing the English Channel. Opposition parties and charities say the bill is unworkable and could breach international law.
Asylum-seekers will be housed in disused military bases in Essex and Lincolnshire and a prison in East Sussex, under plans to cut the £6 million a day spent on hotel accommodation for people landing in the UK in small boats. Housing them in barges and other floating accommodation has also been mentioned. Rishi Sunak has also brought forward proposals to use barracks at Catterick, in his constituency. The Refugee Council is deeply concerned, calling the suggested accommodation ‘entirely unsuitable’ for the needs of vulnerable men, women, and children who have come to our country in search of safety; it will add yet more cost and chaos to the system. The Home Office said that healthcare will be available along with catering facilities and 24/7 security, and ‘accommodation for illegal migrants should meet their essential living needs and nothing more’.
62 members of China's Mayflower Church fled to South Korea seeking political asylum after China’s government imposed revised regulations. Pastor Pan said, ‘Government authorities ordered my landlord to force us to leave. Police were posted right outside our residence and I was being followed.’ He said that police persecution was becoming more serious, and the space where they could live was becoming smaller. ‘Our only hope is that our family can live in a place where we can worship God and teach this to our children. For them to freely worship God their whole lives.’ After two and a half years South Korea’s government denied the Mayflower families' request for asylum, so they fled to Thailand, where they are seeking refugee status in order to apply for political asylum in the USA. They still face many challenges, including being sent back to China by Thai immigration police.