ICYMI: UK Government U-turn over anti-terror law used to deport migrants

Yet another example of apparent mismanagement by the Home Office:

The government has agreed to stop deporting people under an immigration rule designed to tackle terrorism and those judged to be a threat to national security pending a review, after the Guardian highlighted numerous cases in which the power was being misused.

The news came as the home secretary, Sajid Javid, admitted on Tuesday that at least 19 highly skilled migrants had been forced to leave the country under the rule.

A review of the controversial section 322(5) of the Immigration Act was announced in a letter to the home affairs select committee.

Javid said one person had been issued with a visa to return to the UK as a result of ongoing inquiries. He also said that all applications for leave to remain that could potentially be refused under the section have been put on hold pending the findings of the review, which is due to be completed by the end the month.

Javid’s letter to the home affairs select committee also admitted that the Home Office’s use of the clause – condemned as “truly wicked” and “an abuse of power” by MPs and experts – could have spread to other applications, including that of any migrant applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) who might have been asked to submit evidence of earnings.

At least 1,000 highly skilled migrants seeking indefinite leave to remain in the UK are facing deportation under the section of the act.

The high-tax paying applicants – including teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals – have been refused ILR after being accused of lying in their applications for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records.

The controversial paragraph comes with devastating conditions. Migrants, some who have lived here for a decade or more and have British-born children, immediately become ineligible for any other UK visa. Many are given just 14 days to leave the UK while others are allowed to stay and fight their cases but not to work.

In addition, those deported under the terrorism-associated paragraph will have that permanently marked on their passports, making it highly unlikely they will ever get a visa to visit or work anywhere else in the world.

In one case exposed by the Guardian the applicant’s tax returns were scrutinised by three different appeal courts who had found no evidence of any irregularities.

Other cases included a former Ministry of Defence mechanical engineer who is now destitute, a former NHS manager currently £30,000 in debt, thanks to Home Office costs and legal fees, who spends her nights fully dressed, sitting in her front room with a suitcase in case enforcement teams arrive to deport her, and a scientist working on the development of anti-cancer drugs who is now unable to work, rent or access the NHS.

The same figures were nevertheless used as the basis for a refusal because of basic tax errors allegedly made by the Home Office itself.

Commenting on the home secretary’s letter, the Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the committee, said: “We’ve heard of a series of cases of highly skilled workers, employed in our -public services and senior jobs legally for many years, now being told to leave apparently due to minor tax errors.

“So it is welcome that the home secretary is now reviewing all those cases and putting decisions on hold.”

A group of about 20 MPs and a member of the House of Lords have establish separate pressure groups to persuade the Home Office to stop deporting highly skilled migrants under the terms of the section.

The home affairs select committee highlighted the issue after questioning Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, about it in early May.

A few days later, they publicly accused the Home Office of being unfit for purpose and guilty of “shambolic incompetence” after the Guardian found letters written by Nokes that appeared to contradict her claim that she had only recently learned of the Home Office’s use of the section.

via Government U-turn over anti-terror law used to deport migrants | UK news | The Guardian

And one more:

A wave of devastating incidents of vital personal papers being lost in immigration cases has led to renewed calls for the Home Office to overhaul the way it handles documents.

The problem has been so severe that at its peak the department routinely mislaid thousands of files, a former senior immigration official said.

In the wake of the coverage of the Windrush scandal, the Guardian has spoken to people whose immigration status has been left in limbo after documents submitted to the Home Office have vanished.

Despite this the Home Office has never made a voluntarily self-referral to the data protection watchdog over lost papers.

Yvette Cooper, the chair of the influential home affairs select committee, said: “This is a question of basic competence. Too often we have heard about lost documents and simple errors by the Home Office that can have deeply damaging consequences for people’s lives.

“The Home Affairs committee and the independent inspectorate have warned the Home Office repeatedly to improve the competency and accuracy of the immigration system.

“It’s crucial they get the basics right. We’ve even recommended digitising and changing the system so people don’t have to submit so many original documents in the first place, given the risk of loss and delay.

“But ultimately this is linked to weaknesses in the Home Office casework system that urgently need to be sorted out. The immigration system is far too important a public service for these kinds of mistakes to be acceptable, or for repeated warnings from the inspectorate and the select committee to be ignored.”

The Guardian has heard cases ranging from lost birth certificates, children’s passports going missing, education certificates disappearing and appeal bundles misplaced.

Vital immigration papers lost by UK Home Office | UK news | The Guardian

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to ICYMI: UK Government U-turn over anti-terror law used to deport migrants

  1. Robert Addington says:

    As the recent Windrush scandal clearly shows, the Home Office is unfit for purpose. Its Immigration and Nationality Department is housed in a building in Croydon called Lunar House. I call it Loony House.

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