Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

Free Movement Weekly Immigration Newsletter #18

Welcome to the weekly Free Movement newsletter!

The first hearing has been listed in the next round of the Rwanda litigation. On Friday, Mr Justice Chamberlain ordered a rolled up hearing to take place within the window of 4 to 7 June with a time estimate of one day. This is the challenge following on from the pre action letter sent last week on behalf of FDA, a union representing civil servants. This challenge is to the requirement for civil servants to, if directed to do so by a minister, ignore a rule 39 order made by the European Court of Human Rights that a person should not be sent to Rwanda. It is argued that such a direction would breach international law and conflict with the duty of civil servants under the Civil Service Code to act in compliance with the law.

A second pre action letter has been sent by Asylum Aid challenging the new ‘Safety of Rwanda’ guidance that was published last week. All practitioners who may be dealing with these cases should read that and access a copy of the pre action letter as explained in my write up. 

In other news about the Rwanda agreement, the spokesperson for Rwanda has confirmed (in this video) that they currently only have capacity for 200 people. We continue to wait for an explanation from the government as to the plan for the tens of thousands of other people they are preventing from accessing the asylum system in the UK. Matthew Rycroft has declined to provide the Public Accounts Committee and Home Affairs Select Committee with even the numbers of those affected, let alone what the Home Office’s intentions towards them are. On that note, do remember to sign up for our webinar on challenging the inadmissibility process which takes place in a couple of weeks (earlybird discount available until tomorrow). 

Just before the gruesome and harmful raids started last week, it was reported that one person had flown to Rwanda under the recently changed voluntary scheme. If the government were hoping to use him as proof of concept that people can be sent to Rwanda safely then it is presumably quite unhelpful that no one seems to know where he is at the moment. Given the timing of all of this, it seems far more likely that this was a desperate (and unsuccessful) attempt to gain votes ahead of the local elections. The sooner the government realises that most people have no interest in the mistreatment of vulnerable people the better off we will all be. I won’t hold my breath.

On Free Movement, we have launched our next webinar: ‘Mastering sponsor licence applications: strategies for success and ongoing compliance‘. The training will be given by Joanna Hunt, Head of Immigration at DAC Beachcroft on 1 July. 

I wrote a detailed briefing for practitioners on what the current law and processes are for sending a person to Rwanda. If and when anything changes, for example in relation to more of the Illegal Migration Act being brought into force, then I will update it or write a new one, but for now this is the legal position. Thanks for all the lovely feedback, I am glad to hear people have found it useful.

One further section of the Illegal Migration Act was brought into force last week which was section 50, allowing the Lord Chancellor to make certain Tribunal Procedure Rules which were also published. These are to come into force just after the duty to make arrangements for removal, so the government may yet pull the trigger on this incredibly stupid law. 

Another change to be aware of is that the Adults at Risk guidance is being amended to facilitate the detention of more vulnerable people for longer and those changes come into force on 21 May. Read on for the rest of what was on Free Movement last week and what we have been reading elsewhere.

Cheers, Sonia

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What we’re reading

‘I will kill myself on arrival’: Syrian asylum seeker fears Rwanda will not be safe – The Guardian, 7 May

I’m a torture survivor who was put in detention, this is what happened – Huck Magazine, 2 May

‘Endless torture’: French police force migrants into Channel crossings as numbers hit new daily record – Independent, 2 May

The Effects of UK Immigration, Asylum and Refugee Policy on Poverty: A Joint Inquiry by the APPG on Migration and the APPG on Poverty – RAMP, 30 April

Asylum homelessness rises as refugees told to leave accommodation – BBC News, 30 April

Citizens’ Rights’ Watchdog Calls For Resolution On Landmark High Court Case Implementation – Independent Monitoring Authority, 30 April

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act – Landmark Chambers, 30 April

The reach and impact of migration information campaigns in 25 communities across Africa and Asia – Migration Policy Practice, March

I spent 40 days homeless sleeping behind Tesco while seeking asylum. Here’s what the system taught me – Big Issue, 11 April

Upper Tribunal clarifies grounds of appeal available in protection status challenges – Landmark Chambers, 3 May

Price of love: Married couples battle to live in UK as income trumps family ties – The National, 4 May

Bound to work: Improving access to redress on the UK’s Seasonal Worker Scheme – Focus on Labour Exploitation, May 2024

An Abusive App – Human Rights Watch, 6 May

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Picture of Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.