Immigration and asylum | The Guardian
Campaigners renew calls for UK to accept 10,000 child refugees
Tue, 18 Jun 2019 16:35:19 GMT

Government urged to offer places as events celebrate 80 years since Kindertransport

There have been fresh calls to bring 10,000 child refugees to safety in the UK amid events celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport trains that saved many children from the Nazis.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced a new resettlement scheme for the most vulnerable refugees on Monday but did not say how many children would be included.

Related: The Kindertransport children 80 years on: 'We thought we were going on an adventure'

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'Discredited' test used on two in five Syrian asylum seekers in UK
Mon, 17 Jun 2019 15:31:21 GMT

Home Office accused of using language tests inappropriately and in discriminatory manner

Almost two in five Syrian asylum seekers were made to take a widely criticised language test to prove their nationality, the Guardian can reveal.

Campaigners and experts have criticised the Home Office for the widespread use of language analysis on those claiming to have fled Syria, describing it as “pseudoscience” and a political tool to exclude migrants.

The Home Office used language analysis tests in cases where visas had been issued or reliable documents existed.

The author of a report that disputed the nationality of a Syrian asylum seeker could not speak Arabic.

One report cited speech that did not exist in the audio recording.

Analysts in some cases failed to make allowances for minors and in one case incorrectly recorded a minor as an adult.

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I thought I would die in Brook House. Now my abusers will have to face justice | BB
Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:00:56 GMT
Bullying, racism, physical abuse – and no idea when we’d get out. Our treatment in immigration detention was a scandal

I thought this moment would never come, but I always clung on to hope. I spent nearly two years in Brook House immigration detention centre and I was abused by the officers, like so many other people there. It often felt as if no one would ever find out what was happening. But on Friday a judge ordered an inquiry that will make sure the voices of people like me are heard, and make sure our abusers will finally face justice.

If you saw BBC’s Panorama documentary in 2017 on abuse in immigration detention services, you would have seen me. But what was shown on TV wasn’t even half of what went on. We were bullied every day. We were mocked all the time. There would be a casual racist taunt as you came down to breakfast – a casual punch as you went to your cell to try to sleep. And much more. Those who couldn’t speak English got it the worst. Someone I knew well tried to hang himself; the officers took their time in responding. They didn’t care whether we lived or died.

Related: Judging by the Home Office, it’s now Tory policy to ruin Britain | Nesrine Malik

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Calls for safer asylum regime as 40 people are intercepted in Channel
Sat, 15 Jun 2019 20:19:26 GMT

Two boats stopped by Border Force in latest of growing number of such incidents

Campaigners have called on ministers to allow refugees to “apply safely” for asylum from outside the UK after two boats carrying 40 people were intercepted off the Kent coast.

Officers from UK Border Force stopped the boats, which were carrying men, women and children, as they made their way across the Channel in what was the latest of a growing number of such crossings since last year.

Related: Italy adopts decree that could fine migrant rescuers up to €50,000

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Judge orders public inquiry into abuse claims at immigration removal centre
Fri, 14 Jun 2019 15:10:06 GMT

Ruling says G4S staff involved in Brook House allegations can be compelled to give evidence

A high court judge has ordered hearings for an inquiry into claims of systemic abuse at an immigration removal centre be held in public and that 21 staff from the security firm G4S can be compelled to give evidence.

This is the first time that a public inquiry into conditions in immigration detention has been ordered.

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Who Should Get to Stay in the UK review – the harsh reality of immigration
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 21:00:04 GMT

A sobering selection of real-life tales illustrate the maddening network of rules and regulations that applicants to remain in the UK must navigate

Who Should Get to Stay in the UK (BBC Two) was not, alas, an amusing parlour game allowing one to strike through the names of those who are already here and whom one would prefer to kick out. (I have a list to hand, running from close family members, through personal nemeses, on to anyone mounting a leadership challenge and ending with all homeopaths.) It was the rather more sobering consideration of who, out of the 700,000 people from outside the EU who apply to remain here every year, the Home Office – operating via a network of rules and regulations so byzantine and in such constant flux that experts in the field describe themselves as “unsure of the law on any given day” – deems fit to stay.

The opening episode (the first of three) focused on four representatives of the main routes in. Valeriya, a 27-year-old Russian on her fifth student visa, has been given £200,000 from her father (“We are millionaires, not billionaires”) to start her own fashion business in order to qualify for an entrepreneur’s visa. Thirty-year-old Rashed developed Crohn’s disease while he was here as a student and has now outstayed his visa by five years while being treated on the NHS (for free, although this is technically in contravention of current rules). He has been refused leave to stay and is appealing on humanitarian grounds, because if he returns to his native Bangladesh he will not be able to access the treatments that keep him alive. Dillian, from Trinidad and Tobago, has already been shot once because of his status as a known gay man and is applying for asylum here. Ajmal is Scottish and applying for work visas for three Indian chefs who have the expertise he needs to expand his high-end restaurant and takeaway business.

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British children in poverty denied basic benefits by Home Office, report finds
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 09:01:26 GMT

Policy of no recourse to public funds for some immigrants makes their children second-class citizens, says study

An immigration policy that denies British children access to basic support has turned them into second-class citizens and is leading to malnourishment, sickness and a range of mental health problems, according to new research.

The little-known policy – no recourse to public funds (NRPF)– was widened by Theresa May in 2012 when she was home secretary to cover more categories of migrants. It not only denies benefits and support to those the Home Office wants to return to their home countries, but even to some people who are granted permission to live and work in the UK.

85% of those seeking to overturn their NRPF-status are single mothers

52% were forced to sleep on the floor or on a chair

94% could not afford to celebrate their children’s birthdays and other special occasions

74% had at least one day where they couldn’t afford to give their children a hot, nutritious meal

6% had experienced living on the street with their children

38% had their education interrupted because of their circumstances

Related: Nearly 900 stateless children forced to pay UK citizenship fees

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Asylum seekers in Glasgow face eviction threat as Serco revives lock-change scheme
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 16:58:53 GMT

Glasgow council warns of ‘imminent homelessness crisis’ while charities express outrage

Hundreds of asylum seekers in Glasgow are facing fresh threats of eviction after the private housing provider Serco announced it was restarting its controversial lock-change policy.

Serco first announced plans last July to evict 300 asylum seekers who have been told they cannot stay in the UK, but put the plans on hold following cross-party and cross-sector condemnation.

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Man granted visa to see son collect doctorate says he is 'in a dream'
Wed, 12 Jun 2019 15:56:35 GMT

Home Office initially refused to grant visa to Scottish Refugee Council chief executive’s father

The 79-year-old father of the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council has said he felt he was “in a dream” as he watched his son receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow, after the Home Office initially refused to grant him a visit visa.

The department reversed its decision on Sabir Zazai’s father after the Guardian highlighted his case, following a public outcry and repeated questions in parliament.

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The Guardian view on digital injustice: when computers make things worse | Editorial
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 17:32:23 GMT
Software makes bigger mistakes and faster than humans can. It should not be trusted with vital decisions

The news that the Home Office is sorting applications for visas with secret algorithms applied to online applications is a reminder of one of Theresa May’s more toxic and long-lasting legacies: her immigration policies as home secretary. Yet even if the government’s aims in immigration policy were fair and balanced, there would still be serious issues of principle involved in digitising the process.

Handing over life-changing decisions to machine-learning algorithms is always risky. Small biases in the data become large biases in the outcome, but these are difficult to challenge because the use of software shrouds them in clouds of obfuscation and supposed objectivity, especially when its workings are described as “artificial intelligence”. This is not to say they are always harmful, or never any use: with careful training and well-understood, clearly defined problems, and when they are operating on good data, software systems can perform much better than humans ever could.

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Windrush row: only 13 victims given emergency support
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 17:03:31 GMT

Labour says hardship fund to help those wrongly classified as illegal immigrants is not working

Only 13 Windrush victims had been granted emergency support by the government by the end of April, it has emerged, a year after the government apologised for its “appalling” mistake in classifying thousands of legal UK residents as illegal immigrants.

Many of those affected were pushed into destitution because of the combined effect of being forced out of their jobs, and being told they were ineligible for benefits and healthcare.

Related: 'I'm struggling': Windrush victims say little has changed one year on

Related: MPs call for review of 'derisory' Windrush compensation scheme

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Cold, alone and scared: teenage refugee tells of Channel crossing
Sun, 09 Jun 2019 07:59:20 GMT
A teenager from Afghanistan who survived the ‘dark, cold and dangerous’ journey talks about her ordeal – and hopes for the future

Most people were still asleep on Christmas Day when Ameena landed in England. She remembers stumbling onto the Kent beach in total darkness, retching with sea sickness.

“When I arrived I was vomiting everywhere,” the teenager told the Observer during the first media interview with an unaccompanied child refugee who has entered the UK by boat.

I actually called the police when I landed but I couldn’t tell them where I was, I had no idea

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‘We should be ashamed’: bearing witness to migrant deaths at sea
Sat, 08 Jun 2019 11:59:09 GMT

A new London exhibition, Sink Without Trace, is dedicated to the tragedies that too often befall migrants fleeing conflict, poverty and persecution

View a gallery of Max Hirzel’s images from the exhibition

It was 2011 when Italian photojournalist Max Hirzel first started thinking about the identification of migrant bodies. He was working on a project in Mali when he met a young man named Alpha, who told him about a grave he’d seen in the desert of a girl from his native Cameroon. Alpha wondered if her parents and siblings knew she was there, adding that this scared him more than death itself: the idea of being buried alone in a graveyard where no one could mourn him.

The project began in earnest in 2015, when Hirzel started touring cemeteries in Sicily to photograph migrants’ graves. Then, on 18 April, the deadliest modern shipwreck in the Mediterranean happened: a vessel carrying between 700 and 1,100 people sank between Libya and Italy; only 28 survived. Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister at the time, vowed to salvage the ship in an effort to identify the bodies and give them a proper burial, and the vessel – now known as “the boat of innocents” – was pulled to the surface in June 2016.

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Sajid Javid: make it easier for overseas students to work in UK
Fri, 07 Jun 2019 08:18:20 GMT

Home secretary calls for more ‘flexible, sensible attitude’ to immigration

Sajid Javid has said he wants to see an end to tough rules on overseas students being allowed to stay in the UK to work, arguing for what he called a more “flexible, sensible attitude” to immigration.

In comments that go against Theresa May’s longstanding approach, the home secretary, who is among a crowded field hoping to succeed her, said he would loosen the current rules, which restrict overseas students to six months of work after finishing their studies.

Michael Gove

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Man whose wife died after deportation attempt fights removal order
Thu, 06 Jun 2019 18:06:21 GMT

Fusi Motsamai says he deserves justice as Home Office tries to send him to South Africa

A man whose wife collapsed and later died after the Home Office tried to remove the couple to their native South Africa last year has appealed against a further attempt to remove him.

During the removal attempt on 7 March 2018, officials accused Nancy Motsamai, 35, of faking illness to avoid being put on the plane. She died five days later as a result of undiagnosed ovarian cancer, deep-vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism.

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Edinburgh arts festivals lobby for urgent visa reforms
Thu, 06 Jun 2019 17:30:57 GMT

Umbrella body meets minister to discuss concerns over limits on artists entering UK

Edinburgh’s arts and cultural festivals have lobbied ministers to introduce a more flexible visa system, fearing European artists could be barred from entering the UK after Brexit.

Nick Barley, the director of the Edinburgh international book festival, said there was concern that performers from the EU would face the same visa restrictions as artists from the Middle East, Africa and south Asia.

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Europe, take note: in Denmark, the humanitarian left is on the rise | Michael Strange
Thu, 06 Jun 2019 15:20:26 GMT

In Denmark’s elections, the far right fell and socially-conscious parties surged. Let’s hope it’s a litmus test for Europe

The Social Democrats’ electoral victory in Denmark was by no means surprising, and in many ways feels like the regular cycle of politics. Yet the result, which saw the coalition of leftwing parties win 52.1% of the vote compared with 41% for their rightwing adversaries, embodies a series of developments with a wider significance for Europe as a whole.

Once the result of Wednesday’s elections was known, the Social Democrat leader, Mette Frederiksen, reiterated two of her party’s key electoral promises – that they want to put welfare back at the centre of the Danish model, and that they will place strict controls on refugees and asylum seekers. That last position has become common globally, and within Frederiksen’s party it was seen as a pragmatic necessity if they were to win votes from what had been, back in the 2015 election, Denmark’s second largest party – the Danish People’s party (DPP).

Related: Centre-left Social Democrats victorious in Denmark elections

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Gay rugby player facing deportation to Kenya gets reprieve
Thu, 06 Jun 2019 11:59:17 GMT

Ken Macharia allowed to return home but deportation threat remains after fresh asylum claim rejected

A gay rugby player facing deportation to Kenya, where he fears he will be the victim of persecution and violence because of his sexuality, has had a last-minute reprieve from detention.

Ken Macharia, a member of Bristol Bisons gay and inclusive rugby club, had expected to be detained when he reported to a police station in Somerset on Thursday.

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Gay rugby player faces deportation to Kenya as asylum claim rejected
Mon, 03 Jun 2019 14:44:04 GMT

Kenneth Macharia fears he will be subjected to persecution and violence if forced to leave UK

A gay rugby player who is facing deportation to Kenya, where he fears he will be subjected to persecution and violence because of his sexuality, has had a fresh claim for asylum rejected.

Kenneth Macharia, whose plight prompted more than 100,000 people to sign a petition calling on the Home Office to halt his removal, has been told he must now leave the country “without delay”.

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Matt Hancock pledges to lift immigration limits on NHS medics
Sun, 02 Jun 2019 23:01:46 GMT

Centrist Tory candidate advocates free movement of foreign doctors and nurses

The UK should allow complete freedom of movement for medics from around the world, the Tory leadership hopeful Matt Hancock will pledge on Monday.

The health secretary, who is one of main contenders from the party’s centre-left in the 13-strong race to be the next prime minister, will promise to lift all immigration restrictions for qualified doctors and nurses of any nationality who have secured a job in the NHS.

Related: Tory leadership race: the triumphs and turkeys | Michael Savage

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