Paddington, go home: Home Office staff pin up faked deportation notices

Witty but inappropriate behaviour by public servants:

Over the past week mocked up immigration enforcement notices have begun to appear on internal Home Office staff noticeboards, featuring photographs of Paddington Bear, stating that he is wanted so he can be placed on a relocation flight to Rwanda.

Elsewhere, staff have noticed a rash of Refugees Welcome stickers, affixed to Home Office printers and pieces of furniture in departmental buildings around the country.

The organiser of the Our Home Office protest group, bringing together staff opposed to Rwanda deportations, said unease about the proposed removals has galvanised employees from all over the government department to take subversive action.

“It’s still a small, low-level campaign, but it’s growing and is already networked in offices throughout the country,” the group’s founder said, asking not to be named in order to protect his job at the department. “The announcement of the Rwanda transportation plan was really a significant moment for a lot of staff members who were quite shocked by how barbaric a proposal it is, particularly the way that it seems to be against the refugee convention and the principles that we are trying to uphold of giving people fair treatment.”

More rolls of Refugees Welcome stickers have been posted out in the past few days to members of staff who have got in touch through a protest group website, the organiser said. “No one expects working in the Home Office to be easy but this has pushed a lot of people over the edge,” the employee said.

Refugees Welcome sticker
Refugees Welcome stickers have begun to appear in Home Office buildings. Photograph: Twitter

Source: Paddington, go home: Home Office staff pin up faked deportation notices

Editorial: Tightening Japan’s immigration regs no excuse to trample human rights

Of note:

A government expert committee has submitted its recommendations for dealing with the problem of foreign citizens being held for months, and in some cases years, at Japan’s immigration detention centers.

The committee has called for a system of penalties for foreigners who ignore deportation orders, as well as for the government to consider how to handle people who make repeated refugee claims. The proposed rules are notable for their severity.

As of the end of 2019, there were 1,054 people being held at Immigration Service Agency of Japan detention facilities. Of those, 462 had been locked up for six months or more. According to the agency, the long-term detentions are due to people refusing to be repatriated. However, most foreigners without a legal residency status have left Japan after being ordered to do so. In a great many cases where a person has refused to go, it is because their lives would be endangered if they went home, or because they have families in Japan.

In light of this, it is questionable whether imposing penalties for those refusing deportation orders would have a significant impact on repatriation. We rather worry that the move will result in shrinking support for foreigners who cannot go home.

The committee’s recommendation that measures be considered to deport refugee claimants mid-application in exceptional cases was apparently based on the recognition that there are quite a few people abusing the system by filing repeated claims to avoid leaving Japan. However, deporting a person who may be a refugee is forbidden under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

We must wonder if, considering the scant few people granted refugee status here compared with global norms, this country’s refugee system isn’t too strict already. A total of 10,375 people applied for refugee status in Japan last year. Of those, only 44 were accepted. Perhaps the government had best rethink its evaluation process before talking about mid-application deportations.

Taking a foreigner to an immigration detention center is supposed to be preparation for them to be deported. Many other places have legal maximums for how long a person can be detained in this way. For example, the upper limit in the European Union is six months. There is no such rule in Japan. However, the expert committee report does not address limiting detention times in a concrete way. It does call for a review mechanism to be created for cases where a person has been held for a certain length of time, to evaluate whether continued detention is appropriate. However, we believe these reviews should not be conducted by the immigration agency or its parent, the Justice Ministry, but by the courts.

The United Nations has expressed concerns about Japan’s immigration system on multiple occasions. Last year, a Nigerian man who had been held at a detention center for three and a half years died of starvation following a hunger strike.

To avoid long-term detentions, the government should consider a flexible approach to granting temporary leave permission to detainees, allowing them back out into the world for a set time. Special consideration is also needed for those detainees with families and well-established lives in Japan.

Strengthening immigration management in this country cannot be made an excuse to obviate the human rights of foreign citizens.

Source: Editorial: Tightening Japan’s immigration regs no excuse to trample human rights

Australian citizenship law change affecting New Zealanders, high commissioner says

Tens of thousands of long-term residents could fail the new test, triggering the deportation process, a parliamentary inquiry heard on Monday.

The new migration rules will give the minister or his or her delegate a new discretionary power to cancel a visa if a person is convicted of certain offences, punishable by a maximum of two years in jail.

Offences include assault, using or possessing weapons, sex crimes or breaching an apprehended violence order.

A person will fail the character test if convicted of one of these offences, regardless of the actual length of the sentence imposed.

The test will also apply retrospectively, meaning the offence to trigger the reconsideration could have occurred decades ago.

New Zealand high commissioner Dame Annette King told the Senate’s legal affairs committee 2014 changes to visa rules which lowered the threshold for cancellations on character grounds had incurred a “disproportionate” impact on Kiwis living in Australia.

New Zealanders made up 10 per cent of the foreign born population but 50 per cent of deportations.

By comparison, only 1 per cent of New Zealand’s deportations were Australians.

“We don’t believe our community is less safe than Australia’s,” Dame Annette said.

She said Australia’s tightening migration rules had “become a rub and corrosive to our relationship”.

She urged the government to revert to the pre-2014 rules.

“If that is not possible we would like special consideration of New Zealanders living in Australia, because of the relationship, it is not like any other relationship,” Dame Annette said.

The Law Council of Australia also raised concerns that previous expansions of the power had not only led to more deportations, but greater ministerial intervention.

The number of via cancellations on character grounds rose by 1400 per cent between 2013 and 2017, the council said,

“The character test expansions have led not only to more cancellations but also a greater use of the minister’s personal powers, not only through section 501 but also through section 195A, which enables the minister to grant visas to detainees even where a section 501 cancellation has taken place,” its submission said.

“This is an inefficient use of ministerial time. Detainees must remain in prolonged detention while the department and the minister consider such matters.”

But Department of Home Affairs officials said the new rules were required to set an “objective, transparent” threshold for visas to be cancelled.

“I’d like to be clear that the consequences of not meeting this subjective threshold is that there would be further consideration of a discretionary power to refuse or cancel a visa where a non-citizen is convicted of a designated offence,” acting first assistant secretary of the immigration policy division, Michael Willard said.

“It’s important to note the conviction itself does not result in the automatic cancellation of the visa or a refusal of the visa and there’s a separate process for consideration of using this discretion that delegates or the minister would undertake.”

Head of the community protection division, Sachi Wimmer, said while it was impossible to say how many of Australia’s 1.9 million permanent visaholders would be captured by the changes, the department was bracing for an increase in referrals.

Source: Australian citizenship law change affecting New Zealanders, high commissioner says

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

ICYMI: Government called ‘heartless’ for deporting 59-year-old bipolar man who came to Canada as baby

It is. Doesn’t acknowledge that Canada is responsible for him, not the Netherlands:

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is facing calls to reverse the deportation of a 59-year-old man with bipolar disorder who lived in Canada since he was eight months old.

Len Van Heest of Courtenay, B.C., was deported to the Netherlands this week after a string of criminal convictions for uttering threats, mischief and assault that his lawyer says were linked to his mental illness.

His brother Daniel Van Heest expressed his anger at judges and immigration officials who allowed the deportation to happen. He said his brother is now in the care of family in the Netherlands with the help of the Salvation Army.

“Needless to say his mental faculties have been stressed to the max,” he said. “The system is skewed. Mentally ill people should never be deported. It is wrong.”

Lawyer Peter Golden said Van Heest’s parents didn’t seek citizenship for him. The last time he was in the Netherlands he was in diapers, he doesn’t speak Dutch and doesn’t know his relatives there.

“However kind and well-meaning they are, the stresses of this whole process of removal will be difficult for him. He hasn’t made connections with people very easily in the past.”

Van Heest was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 16, said Golden. By the time he was old enough to seek citizenship for himself, he had a criminal record and could not apply.

His last conviction was in 2012. He has been ordered removed from Canada in the past but has previously won stays on deportation, Golden said.

In January, a Federal Court judge rejected Van Heest’s challenge of a Canada Border Services Agency officer refusing to defer his removal order. Last week he lost a last-ditch attempt for a stay, and on Monday he was deported to Amsterdam.

“It’s really an example of criminalization of mental illness,” said Golden. “The criminal justice system isn’t designed to deal with people like Len.”

He said Van Heest was ensnared by legislation introduced by the former Conservative government in 2012, which banned non-citizens from appealing deportation after being sentenced to six months in jail. Previously, people could appeal if they were sentenced to less than two years.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was unable to respond to questions Wednesday.

The man’s 81-year-old mother, Trixie Van Heest, who Golden said has a very close relationship with her son, sounded distraught when reached by phone. She said she could not talk about the matter anymore and hung up.

Source: Government called ‘heartless’ for deporting 59-year-old bipolar man who came to Canada as baby | National Post

Un Néerlandais arrivé au Canada en 1958 expulsé lundi | Actualités

Have not seen this story in the English language press but it is a good example of the impact of the previous government’s efforts to deport those guilty of violent crime.

But someone who arrived at the age of 8 months who has lived all his life in Canada? At that point, doesn’t Canada “own” him, notwithstanding his lack of citizenship?:

Len Van Heest, un Néerlandais de 59 ans arrivé au Canada quand il était bébé, va être expulsé lundi vers les Pays-Bas, un pays dont il ne parle pas la langue, a décidé vendredi la justice au terme de neuf ans de procédures.

Arrivé avec ses parents en 1958 à l’âge de 8 mois, Len Van Heest « n’a jamais obtenu la nationalité canadienne » et a été diagnostiqué bipolaire à l’âge de 16 ans, selon les attendus du jugement d’expulsion du tribunal fédéral de Vancouver, en Colombie-Britannique.

Alcoolique et dépendant aux stupéfiants, il est poursuivi à partir du milieu des années 70 et jusqu’en 2013 pour une quarantaine de délits. Il assure qu’ils ont été commis pour la plupart dans « la phase maniaque de la maladie », selon le tribunal.

Depuis un durcissement de la législation par le précédent gouvernement conservateur, un ressortissant étranger condamné à plus de six mois de prison est passible d’une expulsion du Canada. La précédente loi ouvrait à une possible expulsion au-delà d’une condamnation de deux ans de prison.

Len Van Heest avait engagé plusieurs recours contre son expulsion dont la première décision remonte au 2 janvier 2008. Le corps médical avait permis de surseoir à son expulsion au motif que les troubles psychologiques pouvaient le pousser au suicide en l’envoyant dans un environnement totalement inconnu.

Le Néerlandais avançait également que sa santé mentale nécessitait des traitements auxquels il n’aurait pas accès aux Pays-Bas, faute de ressources financières sur place d’autant qu’il ne parlait pas la langue.

Domicilié à Courtenay, à 200 km au nord de Victoria, sur l’île de Vancouver, Len Van Heest voulait également rester auprès de sa mère âgée de 81 ans.

« J’ai payé ma dette envers la société […] et maintenant c’est une condamnation à perpétuité », avait-il déclaré fin février à la télévision locale Chek News.

Dans ses attendus, le juge Paul Crampton a reconnu que Len Van Heest « peut souffrir d’un inconvénient et d’une difficulté à s’installer aux Pays-Bas » plus importante que toute autre personne expulsée du Canada.

Néanmoins, le juge a estimé que l’individu n’avait pas pris les mesures préalables nécessaires « pour minimiser cet inconvénient et cette difficulté ».

En conséquence, Len Van Heest doit être expulsé le lundi 6 mars, conclut le juge dans ses attendus de 15 pages.

ICYMI: Deportations to Jamaica, Honduras could hurt Canada

The possible longer-term impact of the populist policy to deport criminals:

Experts in Canada and Jamaica told the researchers that the ability of deportees to obtain jobs, housing, education and health care heavily influenced their ability to reintegrate and whether criminals would continue to take part in illicit activity upon their return.

“The great difficulty with properly reintegrating criminal deportees has ultimately contributed to deportee-related problems with unemployment, homelessness, inadequate housing, property crime, mental health and addiction,” one study says.

Jamaica has returned to prominence as a major shipment point for cocaine originating in South America, posing concerns for Canadian police, the researchers add. The organized-crime landscape has also expanded beyond drugs to lucrative lottery scams that directly target Canadians.

It’s one thing to deport someone with no real connection to Canada, but quite another to return a person who has grown up in Canada, said Toronto immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman.

“It’s completely unacceptable that we’re dumping our social problems back in Jamaica,” Waldman said.

“I think the time has come for our government to really reassess this policy.”

Deportees to Honduras return to a country that is facing urgent humanitarian problems, a proliferation of street gangs and organized groups involved in the hemispheric drug trade, the other study says. The extremely challenging economic conditions, social stigma and threat of violence make it difficult to build a new life.

A number of Honduran organizations offer social services to deportees, but they lack resources and cannot keep up with the massive flow of returnees, particularly from the United States, the study says. “Canada can play an important role in international efforts to support deportees and the Honduran authorities, while pushing for broader security and justice reform in Honduras.”

The studies also point out that privacy law limits the information about returnees the Canada Border Services Agency can share with officials in other countries, potentially hampering reintegration. However, they add the RCMP may be better placed to pass along information through its international channels.

Source: Deportations to Jamaica, Honduras could hurt Canada – The Globe and Mail

Bipolar man on verge of deportation to a country he left as a baby — 57 years ago

The ongoing reach of the previous government’s legislation and approach:

57-year-old man who immigrated to Canada as a baby is on the verge of being deported from the only country he’s known because of a string of crimes triggered by severe mental illness.

Len Van Heest — diagnosed with bipolar disorder in British Columbia at age 16 — is just the latest, dramatic example of a growing trend, say some immigration lawyers.

Increasing numbers of adult immigrants who came here as small children and developed psychiatric or neurological conditions now face removal after the previous government toughened the law on non-citizen criminals, they say.

The Canada Border Services Agency detained Len Van Heest last Wednesday and plans to send him to the Netherlands, though he doesn’t speak Dutch and has not lived there since he was in diapers.

We’re just dumping someone in another country

The Vancouver Island man neglected to become a Canadian citizen, so falls under legislation that lets the government expel immigrants who commit serious crimes.

A Federal Court judge has just upheld the denial of Van Heest’s application to remain on humanitarian and compassionate grounds — and rejected his claim that deportation to the Netherlands would be cruel and unusual punishment.

“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” said Peter Golden, his Victoria-based lawyer. “I don’t think we can treat someone who has these vulnerabilities just like we treat everybody else …We’re just dumping someone in another country.”

Golden said he is worried that his client will end up on the streets in Holland, without his required drug treatment. “In all probability, it’s a death sentence for him.”

Van Heest is now planning a last-ditch application to the new Immigration minister, John McCallum, for a permanent stay of deportation, said his lawyer.

But a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency said the decision to remove someone from Canada “is not taken lightly,” and that various avenues of appeal are open to those facing deportation.

Van Heest was twice given a reprieve from removal, only to relapse into criminal activity, noted another immigration lawyer.

“I think in this particular case, as the court notes, there were just too many strikes against this fellow,” said Sergio Karas, vice-chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s immigration section. What’s more, “in the Netherlands, you’re going to get perhaps even better (mental-health) support than here.”

Source: Bipolar man on verge of deportation to a country he left as a baby — 57 years ago