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

In case you missed it: immigration in the media, 23 February – 2 March


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Here’s your round-up of the immigration and asylum stories that made national headlines this week. There weren’t as many as usual, although it was another big week in Brexit.

Yarl’s Wood

Last Friday, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott visited Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, scene of a hunger strike by 120 detained women. The Guardian carried a report that evening. Later in the week, a Home Office minister remarked of the hunger strike that there “may be a multitude of reasons for refusing food and fluid. They may be in protest against their detention but there may also be dietary and religious reasons”, according to the Independent.

Migrant interviews

The Independent also carries an interview with a family of Syrian refugees, while the Mirror talks to a Romanian man with five children who started out working in the UK on £70 a week.

Health data sharing

Ministers have rejected a call from MPs on the health committee to suspend the sharing of data on migrants with the Home Office, the Guardian reports. The offending letter to committee chair Sarah Wollaston has been published.

Brexit treaty uproar

The European Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement — legal binding language for the agreement made on Brexit to date — was big news on Wednesday. Most of the attention went to the proposals on Northern Ireland: “Barnier DEMANDS Northern Ireland follows EU rules to avoid hard border” fumes the Express, while the Times says that the text if adopted would “effectively hand over sovereignty of Northern Ireland to Brussels”. There is hardly any coverage of the draft text on citizens’ rights, but see the Free Movement post on the subject.

Meanwhile, the Home Office released its own proposal for immigration from Europe during transition. The Guardian calls it a “major climbdown over future residency rights” and the Mail a “significant U-turn”, offering “any EU migrants who arrive during the Brexit transition period… the right to settle permanently in the UK”.

Dubs amendment challenge

The Guardian reports on a judicial review challenge undertaken on behalf of a 16-year-old Afghan boy living in France. The firm accuses the Home Secretary of “ignoring her statutory obligations under the Dubs amendment” (more detail on the case is on its website). A hearing took place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Blair on free movement

Tony Blair thinks that free movement should be scrapped in order to prevent Brexit. The former Labour Prime Minister told the BBC that “comprehensive” changes to EU immigration law would help persuade the UK change its mind and stay. His comments come hard on the heels of a speech by his predecessor, Sir John Major, who wants MPs (or possibly another referendum) to put a stop to the whole business — see Telegraph, which also carries the speech in full.

May Brexit speech

The Prime Minister is to make a major speech on Brexit around 1.30pm today. From the advance briefings — see eg BBC News, Financial Times (£) — it doesn’t look set to include a huge amount about immigration or citizens’ rights specifically, but let’s see. I’ll watch and tweet some highlights, for those interested.


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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.