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

Free Movement Weekly Immigration Newsletter #27

Welcome to the weekly Free Movement newsletter!

For those who are interested, here is the list of ministerial appointments from Friday. As expected, the Home Secretary is now Yvette Cooper. Diana Johnson and Angela Eagle have been added as Home Office ministers this morning but I haven’t seen any detail of their particular briefs yet.

A couple of weeks ago, the Home Secretary said that the government would ensure that the Windrush compensation scheme is “delivered effectively”. Anyone who needs an overview of the scheme and some tips on where improvements are needed should read our explainer from last week, “a guide to applications to the Windrush Compensation Scheme”. A good first step would be to provide legal aid for those who wish to apply to the Windrush scheme, as this is currently the subject of an ongoing legal challenge owing to the previous government’s refusal to do this.

Making legal aid sustainable will also be key to resolving the problems with the asylum system, particularly with the appeals backlog which will take a lot longer to resolve without lawyers available to prepare cases and help to identify where decisions can be withdrawn and re-made without the need for the case to go all the way to a hearing. Ending the use of the inadmissibility process must also surely be a priority for the government, to avoid the backlogs getting even more out of control.

There were reports over the weekend that ambulances have been called to RAF Wethersfield 38 times this year. The site, along with other unsuitable sites such as the Bibby Stockholm, should be closed immediately to avoid any further loss of life. As far as wish lists are concerned, I could go on (and on) but these are certainly some of the more urgent issues to attend to.

This will hopefully be the last time I need to mention Rwanda, as the government has confirmed that the scheme has been dropped and everyone released from detention. The FDA was unsuccessful in its judicial review challenging the guidance issued to civil servants in relation to Rwanda flights in circumstances where the European Court of Human Rights had issued an interim order preventing removal. The main Rwanda challenge is due to start tomorrow, presumably there will be some developments there imminently.

On Free Movement, I wrote up a really important development in the Asylum Support Tribunal where Principal Judge Storey held that the tribunal can consider whether the underlying asylum withdrawal decision was made lawfully when deciding an appeal against the refusal or discontinuation of asylum support. The facts of the linked appeals are worth reading as confirmation for everything we said would happen with the shambolic and rushed approach to withdrawals.

The factual background also demonstrates that the Home Office’s internal process for asking for withdrawal decisions to be reviewed is dysfunctional, leaving people unable to navigate this without representation. Most people will not have been able to access legal assistance to navigate such a complex challenge. It is undoubtedly the case that there are thousands of people in the UK who have had their cases withdrawn by the Home Office but who still wish to pursue their asylum claim. They need to be identified and brought back into the system, and as part of this the Home Office must make it easier for them to do so. 

For everything else from the last week on the blog and elsewhere, do read on.

Cheers, Sonia

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What we’re reading

Migration and asylum: The first 100 days – Institute for Public Policy Research, 8 July

Windrush pensioner facing homelessness at 89 as Home Office ‘unable to verify her identity’ – Independent, 2 July

Forget ‘stop the boats’, Starmer wants to ‘smash the gangs’ – but will it work? – The Observer, 6 July

Migrant nurse wins legal boost in unfair dismissal claim against UK firm – The Guardian, 1 July

Purgatory in paradise: how a shipwreck off Diego Garcia led to three years of hell and horror – The Guardian, 8 July

Robert Colvin and Elizabeth Forster: Rolling Judicial Reviews: A New Era of Court Monitoring in Complex Cases? – UK Constitutional Law Association, 1 July

How the Tory war on immigration backfired – The Guardian, 1 July

Suitable accommodation secured for non-binary person fleeing Russia – Garden Court Chambers, 5 July

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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.

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