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Free Movement Weekly Immigration Newsletter #2


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Welcome to the weekly Free Movement newsletter! We think we’re finally back to the normal format this week and in the final stages of sorting snags from the website rebuild just before Christmas…

There was tragic news from the Channel this weekend. Five people are reported to have drowned as they tried to get into a small boat early on Sunday morning. Four are thought to have come from Iraq and Syria. There are reported to have been 70 people trying to get into the boat when it overturned. Many others were rescued.

Over to Parliament, where this week sees the Safety of Rwanda Bill which has its committee stage in the House of Commons. This is being held as a committee of the whole House, as was the case for the Illegal Migration Bill, which means that all MPs are involved and less time is given for scrutiny than for example the Nationality and Borders Bill(albeit that the Rwanda Bill is considerably shorter). Here are the latest proposed amendments for those who can face reading them.

Last Wednesday the Delegated Legislation Committee was busy with a couple of immigration and asylum statutory instruments. First they debated the draft Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Amendment of List of Safe States) Regulations 2024 and the strongest opposition to the regulations was provided by the Scottish National Party, with most of Labour abstaining on the vote. During the debate, the SNP’s Chris Stephens stated the obvious, that it was “bizarre” that the Home Office is saying that these countries are safe while also granting asylum to people from them. Concerns were also raised about the treatment that LGBTQI+ people face in those countries as well as the treatment of journalists in Georgia

There were no SNP members on the committee for the next debate which was on the draft Immigration (Health Charge) (amendment) Order 2023 which will see the immigration health surcharge increased to £1,035 for each year of leave. Stephen Kinnock’s mention of people paying their fees in monthly instalments makes me a bit nervous, as simplifying and strengthening the fee waiver process would surely be a far better way to assist those who cannot afford the fee. Meg Hillier, who is the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, asked several technical questions which the Immigration Minister committed to providing a written update on, however it is unclear if or for how long this will delay the House of Commons vote, which will be the next and final stage before the change comes into force. 

On Rwanda, there was a very interesting post from my predecessor at Free Movement, CJ McKinney, who noticed that the Home Secretary said the following to the International Development Committee on 19 December when giving evidence about the latest agreement: “we will not operationalise this scheme until we are confident that the measures underpinning the treaty have been put in place; otherwise, the treaty is not credible”. He also indicated that Rwanda will be passing its own domestic legislation, presumably to establish the new appeals tribunal, among other changes. I haven’t had any luck finding draft legislation on the Government of Rwanda’s webpage, but if anyone does manage to find something on there then please do share.

Last week Jack Freeland wrote up a case where a care home lost its sponsor licence following a raft of failures. We hadn’t realised this at the time, but this care home was the subject of a Panorama investigation last year. So perhaps a little too much credit was given by us to the Home Office for actually doing a bit of compliance checking themselves.

Reminder that I do take requests – one of which was for a write up of what on earth is happening with inadmissibility claims. I broke it down into the various new backlogs (yes plural) and tried to explain what is going on with each of them. If there is anything else people want me to write up then do get in touch. 

Our December round up podcast is also out, we discussed both evictions and withdrawals quite a lot, which will surprise no one. Listen as I try to run through the government’s five point plan to reduce net migration while maintaining the will to live, and Colin refuses to even discuss the increase to the minimum income threshold (don’t worry – I covered it).  

As ever, read on for the full week (and a bit, because our website was still a bit wonky last week…) on Free Movement and elsewhere.
Cheers, Sonia

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Frontex and the pirate ship – Lighthouse Reports, 11 December

Yet another asylum farce: Migrant camp condemned by home secretary moves ‘torture victims’ into hotels – Independent, 9 January 

Médecins Sans Frontières treating refugees housed in home secretary’s constituency – The Guardian, 9 January

Labour aims to force ministers to publish Rwanda documents – BBC News, 9 January 

New report reveals scale of deepening poverty for people seeking asylum in Wales – Nation Cymru, 8 January

Adopting rightwing policies ‘does not help centre-left win votes’ – The Guardian, 10 January

UK government admits Rwanda has ‘issues with its human rights record’ – The Guardian, 11 January

The war on migration is meant to be lost – Financial Times, 11 January

The immigration smokescreen is beginning to lift – Financial Times, 11 January

High Court quashes unlawful policy on vulnerable people in immigration detention – Wilsons, 12 January

‘Next time, I’ll come legally’: repatriation flights deter Albanians – The Times (£), 12 January

Stripping out the bullshit from the asylum debate – Ian Dunt’s Substack, 12 January

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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.