Asylum Matters advocacy update – 22 June 2022

Advocacy Update

Our fortnightly summary of ongoing advocacy initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.

  1. Ongoing advocacy

Rwanda removals

Late on Tuesday 14 June, the chartered flight to Rwanda, originally due to remove as many as 130 people seeking asylum, was cancelled on the runway with three people still on board.

After an earlier refusal from the Court of Appeal to grant an injunction against the flight, lawyers worked tirelessly up to the very last minute to ensure the rights of those affected were observed, amid a backdrop of powerful protests and direct actions across the country, and even at Privilege Style’s HQ in Spain.

The cancellation was the result of an intervention at the eleventh hour by the European Court of Human Rights, which granted an injunction, grounding the flight until its lawfulness can be tested in the High Court in July.

Victims of torture and human trafficking are understood to be amongst those the Home Office attempted to remove, while many have family in the UK.

The three who were forced to board the plane have shared their truly harrowing experiences, shedding light on what it was like for the terrified people who were forced onto the flight, with one explaining how “they told me if I made any movement or tried to escape they would restrain me, they would tie me up. It reminded me of the traffickers”. Another described how he was kicked and pushed during the ordeal. They join the voices of others targeted for removal to Rwanda who have spoken out on their experiences.

In the run up to the flight, campaigners with lived experience shared their own feelings about the Rwanda plan, and were reportedly joined in their opposition by Prince Charles, who described the plan as “appalling”, as well as all 25 Bishops of the Church of England.

Meanwhile, Sky News looked inside the facilities for those people seeking asylum who may yet be sent to Rwanda.

After this initial victory, campaigners are committed to continuing the fight against the plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda and to stand up for human rights; despite deeply concerning news that the Government will be continuing its assault on legal protections by repealing the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the authority of the European Court of Human Rights into UK domestic law.

Take Action: Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws!

Asylum Matters has developed a number of Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws materials, including posters, write-to-MP postcards, stickers and badges. Please get in touch if you would like some of these resources, and you can also find print-ready digital versions of these resources which you can download from this folder.

The Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws pledge is open to signature for organisations; and also 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:

New campaign: #Dignity not Data

Migrants Organise, Privacy International and Bail for Immigration Detainees have launched a new campaign against invasive Home Office surveillance of migrants, projecting messages about electronic tagging onto Lunar House in Croydon to highlight the impacts of the harmful practice. You can tweet about the campaign via this link and find social media assets to use here.

The Institute of Race Relations has made Monish Bhatia’s article on the impacts of electronic monitoring of migrants free to read for one month.

Accommodation Centres

The York Press and ITV report that Home Office Minister Kevin Foster MP, has confirmed that the proposed facility at Linton-On-Ouse will not have people placed in it ‘until it is deemed to be safe and conforms to all legal requirements, including planning’.

Campaigners in the village have spent dozens of hours researching legislation and asylum policy as they continue their fight to force the Government to abandon its plans altogether, with support from the Bishop of York who has publicly criticised the policy.

Write to your MP about the proposals for Linton-on-Ouse and other, 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.

Refugee Week

We’re all right in the middle of a very busy Refugee Week, with a huge range of exciting activities taking place across the UK, including a tour by Little Amal. IMIX has previously shared a Refugee Week Ambassador social media pack including graphics with quotes from lived experience leaders to use on social media.

New Rainbow Migration Campaign: No Pride in Detention

Rainbow Migration has launched a new campaign called No Pride in Detention – seeking to end the detention of LGBTQI+ people and secure a time limit for all immigration detention. You can help with the launch by sharing Rainbow Migration’s posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; and stay tuned for more updates.

Anti-raids community activism

Following the example of local communities that resisted immigration raids in Glasgow, Dalston and Edinburgh, protestors in Peckham, South London, prevented a member of their community from being detained last week. The man, a Nigerian national, was released on immigration bail and able to return to his home. The activists have shared how they stopped the raid in Dazed and Gal-dem has published this how-to guide on anti-raids community activism. You can read more about the anti-raids network here.

2. Reports and research

Refugee Legal Support

Refugee Legal Support has launched an important report drawing on data and testimonies gathered over the first year of its Family Reunion from Europe Project. It finds that the UK framework for family reunion is so inadequate that it can drive people to risk their lives to reunite with their families. You can access the report here.

New Doctors of the World report on NHS charging for maternity care

Doctors of the World UK has published a new report exploring inequalities in maternity care experienced by migrant pregnant women and their babies: ‘They don’t count us as anything’: Inequalities in maternity care experienced by migrant pregnant women and babies. The report was covered by the Guardian.

The report shows that refugee and migrant women are four times more likely to access antenatal care late than women in the UK overall. 81% had their first antenatal care appointment beyond the recommended 10 weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile, over a third of women received a bill for healthcare, with half (50%) of those receiving a bill being charged more than £7,000.

The report calls for the Government to immediately suspend NHS charging regulations for maternity care, and to conduct an urgent public and independent inquiry into access to NHS services and health outcomes for people with insecure immigration status.

Insight Hub Survey: Access to Legal Advice & Staff Wellbeing

The latest Refugee Action Good Practice Insight Hub survey is exploring access to legal advice and staff wellbeing. The focus on access to legal advice follows the recent launch of a new report which has mapped the deficit in immigration advice provision across the whole of the UK. The survey is open to all organisations across the UK working on these issues and closes at 5pm on Tuesday 21 June. You can read the survey questions in advance here  and the survey link is here.

There will also be a Hub call on Wednesday 29 June to discuss the findings and connect with other organisations working on similar issues – all are welcome!

Narratives of coercive precarity experienced by mothers seeking asylum in the UK (Wales)

A new paper by Laura Shobiye and Samuel Parker explores the impact of the UK’s racialised asylum system on mothers and their children. Based on a Thematic Narrative Analysis of interviews with refugee and asylum-seeking mothers in Wales, the authors argue that legalised hostility and exclusion are systemic coercive control.

New co-research by Solidarities into asylum housing and dispersal policy

The Migrants and Solidarities research project, a cross-European partnership, carried out co-research into asylum dispersal housing in Yorkshire alongside researchers with lived experience from two of our partner organisations, Doncaster Conversation Club and St Augustine’s Centre Halifax. The co-researchers reported on the impacts of poor quality housing, inability to resolve issues and the challenges of accessing support and services for those dispersed to small, isolated villages, making important recommendations on how the asylum housing dispersal system could be improved.  You can read the full report, ‘Asylum Housing in Yorkshire: A case study of two dispersal areas’ here, a summary by researcher Mette Berg here, and share on social media here.

3. Resources, events, jobs & training

Maternity Action’s Migrant Women’s Rights Service has produced a new information sheet – No Recourse to Public Funds: Money for parents and babies.

  • AVID is recruiting a Member Development Co-ordinator. The role is ringfenced for someone with lived experience of immigration detention or the hostile environment. Deadline Wednesday 22nd June.

4. What we’ve been reading

An important and urgent op-ed from Refugee Action’s Chief Executive Tim Naor Hilton, on the racism that connects Grenfell and the Home Office’s Rwanda policy: “Our treatment of people fleeing war and persecution is what colonialism and systemic racism look like in real time”.

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