Asylum Matters advocacy update – 7 June 2022

1. Ongoing advocacy

Linton-on-Ouse accommodation centre

Residents of Linton-on-Ouse, and their representatives have continued to campaign to stop the wholly unsuitable large-scale facility planned in their village. Following action by Hambleton District Council, the Yorkshire Post reported a delay to the Home Office’s plans on 30 May, stating that ‘no final decision’ had yet been taken on whether to place people on the site. Meanwhile local MP Kevin Hollinrake made it clear that far-right agitators are not welcome in the village.

You can follow the local campaign at @LintonAction and sign their petition here.

Take Action: Stop Accommodation Centres!

Write to your MP about the proposals for Linton-on-Ouse and similar wholly unsuitable facilities using our template letter – it takes just a few minutes! If you prefer, you can download and adapt the letter as a document from our website, where we have also shared an FAQ on the developments.

Rwanda offshoring

With legal challenges by Freedom from Torture and Care for Calais underway, ITV reported on the ‘notices of intent’ which have been served to people intended to be removed to Rwanda. The letters give just 7 days to respond if people are in detention, and 14 days if not in detention, with the documents untranslated. Priti Patel has stated the first flight will be on 14 June.

Some of those due to be deported began a hunger strike in protest while detained in Brook House immigration removal centre, these same people have been threatened with faster deportation if they continue. This first person piece from one of the people detained outlines people’s anguish, which is also highlighted in the Independent’s report on an Afghan man who tried to take his own life after being served with a letter informing him he could be sent to Rwanda.

Jesse Norman MP alluded to the Rwanda plan in his letter withdrawing support from the Prime Minister, calling it ‘ugly, likely to be counterproductive and of doubtful legality.’

Meanwhile, the Rwandan opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, spoke to the Times to say that Britain was ‘betraying the democratic values of the Commonwealth’ with its offshoring plan.

In related news, a charter deportation flight to Iraq that was due to take 30 Kurdish refused asylum seekers was cancelled last minute by the Home Office after protests by campaigners.

Take Action: Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws!

The Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws pledge is open to signature for individual members of the public, using this e- action. Please support the promotion of the pledge by sharing this action with your networks. A draft tweet is below:

The @ukhomeoffice’s new #AntiRefugeeLaws will have devastating consequences for people seeking safety. We will fight these cruel laws at every turn. Stand with us and pledge to defend the right to seek safety:

When promoting the action, please do continue to use the #AntiRefugeeLaws pledge content, including:

#10YearsTooLong: #Week of Action to #EndtheHostileEnvironment 13-19 June

Next week is the Week of Action to End the Hostile Environment. From protests to picnics to workshops, there will be actions that everyone can take part in. See the map here for actions you can take part in, or organise your own!

2. Home Office and Government developments

Immigration statistics published – asylum backlog at record levels

The latest immigration statistics show that the backlog of asylum cases is at its highest ever level, with the number of people awaiting an initial decision now standing at 109,735, 66% higher than the previous year when 66,185 people were waiting. This is more than double the number of people (51,906) who were waiting in March 2020. More than 73,207 people have been waiting for longer than 6 months for an initial decision.

Amnesty International UK accused the Home Secretary of ‘disastrous leadership’ over the figures, describing the Home Office as ‘becoming a byword for backlogs and dysfunction’, while both the Refugee Council and the Migration Observatory pointed out that 75% of initial decisions in the year to March were grants of asylum, humanitarian protection, or other forms of leave – the highest rate of protection grants in more than 30 years.

In the first three months of 2022, 24% of the people arriving in small boats (1024 people) were Afghan nationals, prompting concerns that the Government’s resettlement schemes are failing, leaving people fleeing the same circumstances at risk of differential treatment.

There were 55,146 asylum applications in the year to March 2022. This is the highest number for any 12 month period since the year to September 2003, but still far below the figures of applications in comparable countries like Germany, who received considerably more than twice this number of applicants in 2021.

The full statistics can be found here and were covered in the Independent and the Guardian.

Home Office commissioned report on Windrush

The Guardian has reported that a government commissioned report that has not been published says that the ‘deep-rooted racism of the Windrush scandal’ lies in the fact that ‘during the period 1950-1981, every single piece of immigration or citizenship legislation was designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK.’

Citizenship fee waivers: new Home Office policy on children’s registration and best interest

The Home Office has published a new policy providing a fee waiver for some children applying to be registered as British citizens. The policy states that the fee should be waived if the child and their parents ‘have credibly demonstrated’ that they cannot afford the fee after meeting their essential living needs. The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens has further information.

3. Reports and research

No Access to Justice: how legal aid deserts fail refugees, migrants and our communities

New research by Dr Jo Wilding for Refugee Action looks at access to immigration and asylum legal advice across the UK, and shows that lack of provision leads to destitution, homelessness, isolation, and poor mental and physical health. Sessions to explore the findings of the report are underway, with meetings remaining for Yorkshire and Humber (9 June), Northern Ireland (9 June), Midlands (10 June), South West (13 June) – more details here.

‘Living in constant fear’: the impact of reporting conditions on children, young people and families in Greater Manchester

GMIAU have published a report alongside the Abolish Reporting campaign and other groups, which shows the reporting system is doing invisible harm to children, young people and families. Among its recommendations are an end to all in-person reporting; resolving the backlog; resolving immigration status of young people at the earliest opportunity, and transparently collecting and publishing data about reporting.

Unequal Impacts: how UK immigration law and policy affected migrants experiences of COVID 19

JCWI has published a report on how UK immigration policy, law and government decision-making exacerbated the impact of Covid-19 on migrants, particularly those with insecure immigration status. It focuses on access to justice, Home Office applications, state support, healthcare, and the asylum accommodation system, as well as immigration enforcement.

4. Resources, events, jobs & training

The Haven peer learning programme

The Systems Sanctuary are hosting a new peer learning and development programme, The Haven, for people supporting refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in the UK. The programme aims to support people working in the field to broaden their perspective of the issues, widen their network and feel supported in their work. Further information and applications here.


5. What we’ve been reading

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