via Mary Brandon of Asylum Matters
In particular, I’d like to draw your attention to the Day of Action to abolish immigration bail reporting on 15th July at Waterside Court in Leeds. More info here and below. Hope to see some of you there!
Nationality and Borders Bill/ New Plan for Immigration
The new Nationality and Borders Bill – which is effectively the anti-refugee bill – was tabled by the UK Government today. The Bill will look to formalise aspects of the Government’s New Plan for Immigration, and the legislation includes measures to:
- Allow for the “differential treatment of refugees” depending on their mode of arrival, including limiting length of leave, family reunion rights, access to benefits and conditions for settlement.
- Allow asylum claims to be declared as ‘inadmissible’ where applicants have a connection to a safe third country.
- Make it a criminal offence to arrive in the UK without permission.
- Give new powers for the Border Force to stop and divert vessels suspected of carrying illegal migrants.
Priti Patel unveiled the new plans in the Daily Mail noting the Bill is about “fairness” for those fleeing persecution and the British taxpayer. Nigel Farage argues in the Daily Telegraph that her plans don’t go far enough. Free Movement has a useful overview with first impressions of the Bill noting that it will only worsen existing problems in the asylum system and will lead to much uncertainty and therefore litigation. The Refugee Council’s CEO also writes in the Guardian that the backlog in cases will not be addressed by the Government’s plans and in the Independent point to the limits to safe and legal routes. Additional coverage in the Evening Standard, Telegraph, and the Guardian.
In terms of implementing reforms in the Bill, it was reported last week that Priti Patel was in discussions with Danish Government regarding sharing an offshore processing centre in Rwanda. However a source in the UK Government then went on to state that sharing a centre in Rwanda had not been discussed. The sector was quick to respond stating it would be cruel and barbaric. There have been a number of reports outlining the dreadful impact of this suggested policy and the obstacles the UK Government will face, making comparisons with the Australian model. Additionally, EU Governments are likely to rule out bilateral asylum deals casting doubt over the UK Government’s ability to deport people to Europe.
Campaigning Next Steps around the Bill
The Bill will likely have its Second Reading next week – which is the first opportunity for MPs to respond to and debate the Bill in the Commons. We can also expect much more media coverage around that time.
Asylum Matters is working with our partners and Together with Refugees to identify key areas of the Bill that we will want to address in our collective campaigning as it makes its way through Parliament. Over the next months, we will be encouraging our local partners to get in touch with their local MPs to discuss the contents of the Bill and will share a number of resources to support this outreach, which will be included in our next update.
Please do get in touch if you have any immediate questions or suggestions for how we can support local campaigning initiatives around the Bill before then.
Campaigning against the anti-refugee Bill in Yorkshire & Humber
It’s been fantastic to see campaigners in Y&H hit the ground running, mobilising and taking actions to oppose the New Plan for Immigration and the Borders Bill. I’ll share a few examples in these updates for inspiration and to remind us all that our region will not allow these cruel, unworkable changes to be made in our name:
- Theatre Companies of Sanctuary speak out. Theatre makers from the Theatre Companies of Sanctuary network have come together with other community organisations to write a powerful letter to the Home Secretary, making their opposition to her proposals clear. You can read the open letter here, which is signed by many partners in our region such as Stand and Be Counted Theatre, Mafwa Theatre, Displace Yourself Theatre and BIASAN, and you can listen to Rosie MacPherson from SBC Theatre talking about their concerns to BCB radio here (about 27 mins in).
- Sheffield faith leaders come together to oppose the changes: 10 city leaders of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim congragations have come together in Sheffield to write to the Home Secretary, criticising the proposals. They join an increasing number of faith leaders using their position in the community and moral authority to speak out against the proposals.
Together with Refugees
Here are the up and coming plans for the Together with Refugees campaign:
- Online Rally: Our Vision of a Welcoming Britain: On Friday 9th July, 1 – 2.15pm, lived experience leaders Survivors Speak Out, Young Outspoken Survivors and Write to Life are hosting an online rally to launch Our Vision for a Welcoming Britain, a 7-point plan for a better, more compassionate, more welcoming asylum system.
Find out more about the rally, and register your place, here!
- Nationality & Borders Bill Briefing Meeting: Please join us on Zoom at 5pm on Thursday 8th July where Asylum Matters will join a panel of experts from across the coalition who will present on the content of this Bill, what we can expect on how it will progress through Parliament and the wider political and media environment. You will also hear about how we plan to collaborate as a coalition and the campaign activities you might be able to get involved with. Please join via this Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 988 6740 7847
- Shared resources: There’s a new folder where Together With Refugees partners will store Bill briefings (please send any briefings you have to Fran at [email protected]) and any other campaign updates which may be useful
ASPEN card transition
Many issues relating to this botched transition continue, affecting thousands of people seeking asylum and the organisations supporting them. In answer to a Parliamentary Question the Home Office stated that by 22nd June 93% of cards had been activated. As outlined in the Independent this means according to the most recent data on the amount of ASPEN cards in operation, at that point 2,889 households/individuals were without an activated card, and unable to access the asylum support they were entitled to.
We are working with Refugee Action to continue to collate and gather information. Their current Infohub survey contains questions on the ASPEN transition (you can find out more about the survey and how it works here). Therefore if you wish to provide any further information relating to the impact of the failed transition then please complete the survey.
If you would like to get in touch with us about the work we’re doing to highlight the impact of the failed transition, please contact us at [email protected].
The Home Office have also published a new FAQ document on the ASPEN transition, please find it attached.
Asylum Support rates review
The Home Office this week also announced they are commencing their annual review of asylum support rates for both Section 95 and Section 4 and have asked for specific questions to be answered. The deadline for these responses is 26th July. Asylum Matters will be sharing guidance on how to answer these questions and will aim to get this out to partners wishing to respond to the consultation ASAP. If you wish to respond before that please find in the document attached more details on the Home Office review and where to send responses.
There remains uncertainty around the future use of Napier barracks to house people seeking asylum, although differential provision of accommodation to asylum seekers is included within the Bill. Free Movement notes that it appears that camps like “the Napier barracks will be used as a form of punishment for asylum seekers who travel via safe third countries or do not comply with conditions.”
Recent media reports indicated transfers to the site would be suspended due to the ongoing high risk of continued Covid-19 infections in the accommodation, the use of which has been condemned by the High Court, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Public Health England, as well as by campaigners across the country.
However, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention, which is carrying out an inquiry into the use of barracks to accommodate people seeking asylum, has heard evidence that the use of the site at Napier may continue into the autumn and beyond. Meanwhile, five people are reported to have been charged with racially-aggravated offences towards people housed at Napier.
Research and reports
Living in Limbo
The Refugee Council has published a report looking at the huge increase in people waiting over a year for an initial decision on their asylum claim.‘Living in limbo: a decade of delays in the UK asylum system’ reveals a near tenfold increase, from 3,588 people in 2010 waiting over year to 33,016 in 2020. The report gained media coverage in The Times and BBC.
Home Office and Government developments
Home Office legal challenge – Section 4 provision on Covid grounds
The Home Office has challenged the decision of the Principal Tribunal Judge in a case called AM where she decided that all destitute refused asylum-seekers were entitled to support until stage 4 roadmap out of lockdown. The case of AM has been determined and unfortunately the Home Office was successful in their challenge. You can read the decision here.
In summary, this outcome means that the previous “blanket” position – that refused destitute asylum-seekers are entitled to s4 support because of Covid – no longer stands (the Principal Tribunal Judge’s decision has been quashed). At the moment cessations are still paused. But people applying for s4 support will now need to demonstrate “traditional reasons” for qualifying for support although there remains one live legal issue which we are currently testing at the Tribunal. We will update you if that situation changes.
If you are an adviser and have questions regarding a case contact the ASAP advice line.
Resources, events, jobs and training
West Yorkshire Day of Action to end immigration bail reporting- 15th July
These Walls Must Fall, PAFRAS, Leeds Anti Raids Action and Migrants Organise have called a protest outside Waterside Court in Leeds on 15th July, part of a nationwide day of action demanding an end to mandatory immigration bail reporting. You can find more info on the day of action in Leeds here and please read the letter penned by campaigners with lived experience to Priti Patel explaining why this cruel practice needs to end.
SYMAAG Talk for Change 5
SYMAAG will be holding their 5th Talk for Change on July 15th 7pm, this time on campaigning for change with the legal system with some stellar speakers lined up. More info and tickets here.
Migration Yorkshire VCS engagement workshops
Just a reminder that Migration Yorkshire have a series of workshops that the VCS can attend to gain and share information and learning. More info here.
British Red Cross Digital Empowerment resources
These videos have been created to empower refugee women to help them connect, share and learn about the UK.
A fair future for us all webinar
This webinar on 6th July looks at the Refugee Convention as we celebrate its 70th Anniversary and what the New Plan for Immigration will mean, if implemented, for refugees in the UK. More information and where to register is here.
Clore Social Leadership Programme
Clore Social Leadership are currently recruiting for the Leading Beyond Borders: Experienced Leaders 2021 programme. The free course is particularly aimed at emerging and experienced leaders with lived experience and will be run online between 06 October 2021 and June 2022. Registrations close at 11:59 on Monday 19 July 2021. Further information about the programme, including content, key dates, and FAQs can be found by visiting the website here.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Clore Social team at [email protected]
- Sheffield City of Sanctuary are recruiting a Welcoming Spaces Manager. Voluntary Action Sheffield are holding preparation sessions for applicants to learn more about the role and get support to apply. You can find more info here and the deadline to apply is Monday 26 July 5pm.
- NACCOM are recruiting a Community Researcher Facilitator, and would particularly welcome hearing from applicants who have lived experience of destitution in the immigration system. Closing date 13 July, more information can be found here.
What we’ve been reading and listening to
Interesting read outlining ‘The Everyday Cruelties of the UK asylum system’ by Dr Susanne Jaspars who has worked in Sudan for over thirty years, as a practitioner and researcher.
Anniversary of Park Inn stabbing
To mark the anniversary of this very sad incident a number of campaigners gathered in St Georges Square in Glasgow. They are calling for an inquiry into the incident they say that happened “as a direct result of the dysfunctional UK asylum support and accommodation system”. Al Jazeera traces Badreddin Bosh’s journey to Glasgow in this article and the events that led to the Park Inn tragedy.