UK: Sadiq Khan demands plan to charge EU nationals to stay in UK changed

Bringing the London perspective to the UK immigration debate:

Sadiq Khan has written to the government to demand changes to its planned post-Brexit immigration policy, saying that forcing long-established EU nationals to pay fees to stay showed ministers had not learned the lessons of Windrush.

In a letter to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, the Labour mayor said the wider immigration policy, including plans to restrict immigration to people earning above £30,000 a year, would badly damage London’s economy.

Khan has been a critic of Theresa May’s Brexit plans. He also differs from official Labour policy on the subject, supporting a second referendum.

In the letter, Khan said the immigration white paper, published just before Christmas, was disappointing in content and tone. “The promised ‘new conversation on immigration’ is off to a poor start,” he wrote.

The mayor criticised the £65 fee millions of EU nationals will need to pay to apply for so-called settled status, likening it to errors that saw some members of the Windrush generation targeted for immigration enforcement when they could not prove their status.

“There are hundreds of thousands of young people who were born in the UK or, like the Windrush generation, brought here as young children, who are prevented from participating in the economic, social and political life of the UK by the prohibitive cost of applying for leave to remain or citizenship,” Khan wrote.

“While the previous home secretary rightly waived fees for the Windrush generation, the government clearly has not learnt the wider lessons. There are many others still at risk from the same policies that led to the Windrush generation experiencing discrimination, destitution, and deportation.

“The Home Office now faces the unprecedented task of registering 3.4 million EU citizens resident in the UK. Many people will find this process inaccessible and unaffordable. As a matter of fairness, the government should waive the settled status fee for EU nationals and their families who were resident in the UK before the referendum took place.”

Khan also argued that the plan to restrict immigration to skilled people with salaries of £30,000 or more “simply won’t allow London to continue to grow its economy and provide crucial public services”.

The mayor added that the official “shortage occupation list”, which would help people move to the UK to take roles that need to be filled, should be expanded to assist the needs of London, and possibly devolved to the city.

Jasmine Whitbread, the head of London First, a grouping of leading employers in the capital, said a decision to reduce the minimum salary to the London living wage, currently £20,155, would “avoid a recruitment cliff-edge, keep the UK open to a range of skills, and ensure workers are decently paid”.

Source: Sadiq Khan demands plan to charge EU nationals to stay in UK changed

UK and German immigration: a tale of two very different laws

One of the better articles on planned changes to immigration policy in both countries:

Two European countries announced radical overhauls of their immigration rules on Wednesday, but there the similarity ended.

Britain, where concerns about long-term impacts of immigration helped drive the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, billed its stricter regime as “a route to strengthened border security and an end to free movement”.

Germany, however, facing such a shortage of workers that is threatening economic growth, said it was easing immigration rules to attract more foreign job-seekers.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the British home secretary, Sajid Javid, stressed that the Conservatives’ 2017 election manifesto had made clear the party’s “commitment to bring net migration down”.

His counterpart in Germany, Horst Seehofer, said: “We need manpower from third countries to safeguard our prosperity and fill our job vacancies.” The economy minister, Peter Altmaier, hailed the new law – keenly awaited by business – as historic.

Britain’s priority appears primarily to be establishing a system of tough controls capable of keeping certain people out. Business has accused the government of putting a political imperative for restriction before the needs of the economy.

In contrast, by introducing looser visa procedures and reducing red tape Germany’s emphasis appears to be on making it easier for certain people to enter and to stay. Some in Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance and in the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) have said such a move ignores public concerns about immigration.

The UK’s system does not put a cap on numbers but aims to reduce annual net migration to “sustainable levels”. It requires skilled workers to earn a minimum salary, to be decided next year. After Brexit there would be no more special treatment for EU citizens; a transitional temporary worker scheme would allow them, and workers of any skill level from other “low risk” countries, to enter Britain without a job offer for up to 12 months.

Business leaders have warned that the system will leave the UK poorer, depriving industry of a migrant workforce on which it has depended. The proposed £30,000 salary threshold for skilled workers would leave hospitals, the contstruction and hospitality sectors, manufacturing, agriculture and logistics desperately short of labour, they said.

Germany’s Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz, or skilled labour immigration law, will allow skilled workers such as cooks, metallurgy workers and IT technicians to enter the country for six months to try to find a job, provided they can support themselves financially.

More controversially, the law will offer the prospect of permanent residency to asylum seekers who have a job and speak good German but currently face deportation if their asylum applications are turned down.

Immigration has been a key political issue in Germany since Europe’s 2015 migration crisis, when the country absorbed more than 1 million mostly Muslim refugees and migrants, sparking a xenophobic backlash and surge of support for the anti-immigration AfD in federal and regional elections.

Ministers stressed the new rules were a “pragmatic solution” to a pressing economic problem. The AfD said they would fuel immigration, providing “a fresh incentive for people from around the world to come”. In Germany, however, those politics have not, so far, prevailed.

Source: UK and German immigration: a tale of two very different laws

Brexit: EU immigration to UK ‘to be slashed by 80%’ after we leave bloc

A taste of what is coming under Brexit. Noteworthy that EU migrants pay more into the public purse than British born residents:

The home secretary is said to have plans to cut European immigration by 80 per cent under stricter entry conditions after Brexit.

Sajid Javid is expected to publish plans to end free movement and preferential access for EU migrants after December 2020 – which will see net immigration from Europe reduced to as little as 10,000 a year, according to the The Sunday Times.

Official figures published last month revealed EU net migration has hit a six-year low at 74,000 in the year to June 2018 – 60 per cent lower than in June 2016 and the lowest level since 2012.

The government’s immigration white paper, expected to be published next week, will reportedly state this figure will be slashed further, to between 10,000 and 25,000 long-term migrants each year by 2025.

A source told the newspaper: “We are going to take full control over who can come to the UK, prioritising those with the skills the UK needs rather than on the basis of which country they come from.”

It is expected to lead to a cut in the number of highly skilled EU migrants from 15,000 last year to about 11,000, while those who are “medium skilled” will be slashed from 18,500 to around 4,500. Most of the 40,000 EU citizens with low skills are expected not to come at all.

Medium-skilled migrants will only be allowed in if they have a job paying at least £30,000 a year, while low-skilled workers will get short-term visas of up to a year if they are from a country that is a “low risk of immigration abuse”, according to the newspaper.

The reports will fuel concerns about the impact of Brexit on the economy after a study commissioned by the government found EU workers pay far more to the public purse than British-born residents – at £2,300 more in net terms than the average adult.

It found that over their lifetimes, migrants from the EU pay in £78,000 more than they take out in public services and benefits – while the average UK citizen’s net lifetime contribution is zero.

The reports will also stoke fears about gaps in the workforce in sectors that rely largely on EU workers, such as social care nursing and the hospitality industry.

Mr Javid is also set to distance himself from Theresa May’s “hostile environment” towards migrants and pledge to launch a “new conversation” on immigration with a “fair and transparent compliant environment” that helps protect legitimate migrants while cracking down on illegals.

The white paper is also expected to outline that EU nationals will no longer be able to travel to the UK using a national identity card but will have to use a passport.

Rather than a visa, they will be allowed to obtain an online Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), while Britons travelling to the EU will have to pay for an ETA costing £6.

The report comes after MPs expressed outrage that they would not view the government’s immigration plans before the meaningful vote on 11 December, which was subsequently postponed.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not comment on leaked documents. We plan to publish a white paper on the future borders and immigration system soon.”

Source: Brexit: EU immigration to UK ‘to be slashed by 80%’ after we leave bloc

Bar on low-skilled immigrants will hurt UK, say bosses

Of note. Canada also gives priority to higher skilled immigrants (save with respect to family and refugee classes), with lower skilled workers generally being Temporary Foreign Workers:

A new immigration system that places severe limits on low-skilled immigration risks inflicting “massive damage” to livelihoods and communities, one of Britain’s most senior business figures has warned.

Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the Confederation of British Industry, issued her sternest warning to date about the new “global system” being drawn up by the government, which is expected to place major restrictions on visas for low-skilled workers. The business community, she said, was very concerned about suggestions that migrants earning under £30,000 a year might struggle to win the right to work in the UK.

“This idea that there’s a £30,000 cap below which is described as low-skilled and not welcome in the UK is a damaging perspective for government to have for our economy,” she said. “People earning less than £30,000 make a hugely valuable contribution to our economy and society, from lab technicians to people in the food industry.

“Many of our universities have staff on less than £30,000. So our offer to government is to work with us. We understand the challenge of building public trust, but we think there are much better answers.”

Her comments came in the week that Theresa May claimed that British firms struggling to fill low-skilled jobs should train British workers to fill any gaps. While the cabinet has agreed on the principle that all migrants should be treated the same after Brexit, with EU citizens no longer given preferential treatment, the government’s white paper on the new system has still not been published.

Pro-business ministers such as the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and the business secretary, Greg Clark, have been keen to heed the warnings of industry about introducing strict rules too quickly. However, May won support for a tougher system after the independent migration advisory committee (MAC) backed a clampdown on low-skilled workers.

Fairbairn said: “Our economy is hugely reliant in absolutely critical sectors on people who are so-called low-skilled, such as our care sector, caring for the older generation. We have a nursing shortage. This is a massively important sector.

“It is reasonable to want to bring the level of immigration down. But we must not underestimate the scale of the change that this would mean to our economy and the massive damage it would do to livelihoods and communities if we move too quickly.

“At the very least, we need to recognise there needs to be a transition period that needs to be reasonably long. Businesses can adapt, but they can’t do that overnight. If we do procure a system like this quickly, and some of the talk is that we would bring it in very quickly after the end of the Brexittransition period, we would hugely damage our economy. Jobs will be lost, communities will be damaged. There is a strong alarm bell from business on this.”

MPs have been angered by the suggestion that they may not be able to see details of the white paper before they vote on May’s Brexit deal next week. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said last week that the plan should be published before the end of the year.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “When we leave the EU, free movement under EU law will end and we will bring forward a new border and immigration system that focuses on the skills and talents people have to offer, not where they come from.

“It will ensure the UK continues to attract the people the nation needs to compete on the global stage, while ensuring that we take control of immigration, continue to secure our border, and reduce net migration to sustainable levels.”.

Source: Bar on low-skilled immigrants will hurt UK, say bosses

Islamophobia is a form of racism – like antisemitism it’s time it got its own definition

From the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. The definition:“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” :

In recent years, British Muslim communities across the UK have experienced an increase in Islamophobia. To eradicate the deep-rooted nature of Islamophobia from our society, each of us has a responsibility to tackle prejudice wherever it occurs.

But the absence of a clear understanding of Islamophobia has allowed it to become normalised within our society and even socially acceptable, able to pass what Baroness Warsi described as the “dinner table test”. The consequences have been horrific.

The killing of grandfather Makram Ali outside Finsbury Park mosque in 2017, the murder of another elderly Muslim male, Muhsin Ahmed in Rotherham in 2015 and the brutal stabbing of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham in 2013, serve as grave reminders of the perils of what can happen when Islamophobia goes unchecked.

The attacks on hijab wearing women in the street, the bombs threats made to places of worship, through to the coining of “Punish a Muslim Day”, has left vulnerable Britons feeling unsafe to go about their daily lives.

Islamophobic hate crime is a growing problem. Recent statistics highlight how attacks on Muslims have seen the highest increase. Nevertheless hate crime is the just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the underlying causes which remain hidden from sight. While we can tackle the overt manifestations of Islamophobia in the form of hate crimes, we are less conscious and less clued up about tackling that which lies beneath the waterline.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Runnymede Commission’s first report, which brought Islamophobia into the English lexicon. And 2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of the MacPherson Report. Between these two landmark events and in the backdrop to the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, which we chair, initiated the inquiry into a working definition on Islamophobia as a catalyst for building a common understanding of the causes and consequences of Islamophobia. If we can define the problem, we stand a better chance of properly addressing it.

Our six month long inquiry heard from academics, lawyers, activists, victim groups and British Muslim organisations, as well as first-hand accounts from communities in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and London. Today we publish our report, Islamophobia Defined, which provides a working definition of Islamophobia:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” 

The definition is further exemplified by case study examples and real life incidents, presented within a framework resembling the IHRA definition of antisemitism, providing guidelines on how the definition can be applied.

This isn’t about protecting a religion from criticism, but about protecting people from discrimination. The APPG on British Muslims received countless submissions detailing the racialised manner in which the Muslimness of an individual was used to attack Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims. The racialisation of Muslims proceeds on the basis of their racial and religious identity, or perceived identity, from white converts receiving racialised sobriquets such as “p*ki”, Muslim women attacked due to their perceived dress, bearded men attacked for the personification of a Muslim identity or even turban wearing Sikhs attacked due to the perception of Muslimness.

The adoption of this definition provides an opportunity to help the nation turn the tide against this pernicious form of racism, enabling a better understanding to tackle both hate crimes and the underlying institutional prejudices preventing ordinary British Muslims from achieving their level best across different aspects of our society.

By and large British Muslims feel able to practice their religion freely in Britain, and most believe that Islam is compatible with the British way of life. In recent years, we have seen British Muslims make huge strides from the first Muslim home secretary and Mayor of London, to the first female Muslim British Bake Off champion, through to the ordinary doctors, teachers, business leaders, police officers and the service men and women of our nation. These few examples demonstrate the huge potential for Muslims to flourish in Britain, but these few examples can’t take away the huge barriers ordinary Muslims face to reach such positions.

We strongly encourage the government, political parties, statutory bodies, public and private institutions to adopt this definition in helping to achieve a fairer society for all, as we believe the conclusion to the inquiry will become the benchmark for defining and tackling the scourge of Islamophobia.

The mistakes of this past summer and the denial of political parties to accept a definition of antisemitism must now not be repeated with another minority community. We need to get to the point where it is as socially unacceptable to be Islamophobic as it is to be homophobic or sexist. The adoption of this definition does just that.

Anna Soubry and Wes Streeting are Conservative and Labour MPs respectively, and co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims

Source: Islamophobia is a form of racism – like antisemitism it’s time it got its own definition

UK: Immigration minister says sorry for Windrush generation’s treatment

Needed apology but informal (not in Parliament):

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes has issued a “heartfelt apology” to members of the Windrush generation and admitted that she felt “ashamed” of how the Home Office had treated them.

Nokes was addressing dozens of the Windrush generation at a meeting at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, south London, and told them that she had come to listen to their stories and find out about their experiences.

She has come under fire for issuing contradictory statements about whether or not employers would have to make additional checks on EU nationals post-Brexit in the event of no deal.

“The way I always learn best is by talking to people,” she told the members of the Windrush generation who had come to speak to her.

Several people told Nokes and the team of Home Office officials accompanying her about their experiences as a result of Home Office hostile environment policies which the Windrush generation became caught up in. At times the conversation became heated.

Nokes said: “It’s really important, it really matters to me that people have a chance to shout at me. It really is. I just feel really ashamed, that’s the honest truth.

“I feel ashamed the Home Office got it so badly wrong over a long period. I was going to say I have to say sorry but I want to say sorry. I’m really conscious that we have a massive piece of work to do.”

One woman from the Windrush generation told Nokes she had been thrown out of her council accommodation because of a lack of clarity about her immigration status.

“I have kids and grandkids here but the Home Office want to send me back,” she said. “I’m going blind but I’m scared to see a doctor because of my issues with the Home Office.”

The NHS is required to ask about patients’ immigration status and can refuse treatment to those deemed ineligible.

Nokes urged her to speak to the Windrush taskforce but she said she was too scared to do so.

“I don’t want anyone to feel scared,” said Nokes. “It’s stories like this that demonstrate to me that what went wrong went really horribly wrong. I will pick it up and do absolutely everything to help you.”

It emerged during the meeting that not all the applications for redress under the Windrush scheme had reached the government. A Freepost address has been provided for these applications but one person showed Nokes that his application had been sent back to him with a “return to sender” notice. Nokes promised to hand the application over personally to the right person.

Solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie of McKenzie Beute and Pope, who represents some members of the Windrush generation, and is a member of the Windrush Action Group, expressed concern at the low number of people who the Home Office said have been assisted by the Windrush taskforce to regularise their immigration status. There were 2,100 of them, according to the latest published statistics.

“That’s shockingly low,” McKenzie said. Officials declined to respond to her question about how many people the Home Office had brought back from the Caribbean who had been unlawfully removed but said they would be in touch about it.

Nokes apologised several times for treatment of the Windrush generation who had been invited to Britain to help rebuild the country after the second world war.

“We went out and asked for help. Help came. We have treated people shamefully since then. I would like to give everyone a heartfelt apology. We are here to help, we will help,” she said.

Source: Immigration minister says sorry for Windrush generation’s treatment

Feds tap U.K. company to ‘redirect’ Canadians away from violent extremism online

Interesting effort to leverage UK experience and expertise in prevention:

The federal government has tapped a U.K.-based company to attempt to “redirect” Canadians at risk of radicalization to violent extremism.

The Liberal government awarded Moonshot CVE a $1.5-million grant to develop a project called “Canada Redirect,” aimed at identifying extremist content online and pushing positive counter messaging at those seeking it out.

Micah Clark, Moonshot CVE’s Canada program director, said the idea is not to take down extremist propaganda, but to connect Canadians who are accessing it with alternative content.

Picture searching for white nationalist content on YouTube, only to be offered advertisements for counter radicalization and outreach resources in your “up next” playlist.

“Taking down accounts and trying to silence extremists online is a laudable goal, in one sense, but it doesn’t work with the logic of the internet … the fact that the internet grows in its own way,” Clark told the Star Tuesday.

“And so Redirect, the idea (is to) use the … logic of the internet, use the fact that people look for everything through a search engine, and try to use that to try and benefit people that may be at risk to radicalization to violence.”

According to Public Safety Canada, the redirect method has been deployed in a dozen countries since 2015. Moonshot CVE’s program would be a first for Canada.

The first challenge, Clark said, is identifying what extremist content Canadians are searching out.

Last month, Moonshot CVE provided the Star with a snapshot of the kind of right-wing extremist content Canadians are seeking out online — but that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has identified a growing white nationalist and right-wing extremist presence online in recent years. The internet is an important tool for any extremist ideology, to disseminate propaganda, build communities, and recruit adherents.

Clark said Moonshot CVE will not be focusing on any single extremist ideology, instead trying to connect counter messaging to any vulnerable Canadians at risk of radicalization.

Source: Feds tap U.K. company to ‘redirect’ Canadians away from violent extremism online

UK Home Office in ‘continuous state of disaster management’ amid surge in immigration u-turns

Does appear to be the case as the various articles I have shared or seen indicate:

The Home Office has been accused of operating in a “continuous state of disaster management” as an increasing number of erroneous immigration decisions are being overturned only once they are publicly exposed.

A number of recent news stories about individuals being refused entry to the UK or threatened with removal have prompted officials to reverse decisions within hours or even minutes news articles being published online or in print.

In the past two weeks alone, The Independent has reported on two such cases. Both in involved people being barred from entering the UK because officials were “not satisfied” they would return home. Both were reversed within 12 hours of the articles being published.

Experts have warned, however, that the speed at which the decisions are reversed following media coverage raises serious concerns about the accuracy and fairness of the Home Office’s decision-making process.

It amounts to a “popularity contest” in which only those able to access journalists can get their cases resolved, they said.

Among the cases overturned after reporting by The Independent was that of Yvonne Williams, the 59-year-old daughter of a Windrush generation immigrant who was served with a removal order despite her whole family being in Britain.

The decision to prevent six-year-old, UK-born Mohamed Bangoura from returning home to his mother following a holiday was also reversed, as was the case of Hafizzulah Husseinkhel, a 27-year-old Afghan man who was threatened with deportation despite having served in the British army.

Journalists reporting on these cases are usually contacted by either the individual themselves, charities supporting them or, increasingly, solicitors representing them. Immigration lawyers said media coverage was now often the only way to obtain a “fair and timely” resolution from the Home Office.

Chai Patel, legal director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), said that while it was good for individual cases to get resolved, the process exposed a “completely dysfunctional” system which is “incredibly unfair” for those unable to get their cases in the media.

He added: “It shows how little faith or consideration immigration officials have in their own decision-making that they’re willing to reverse them in a matter of hours, minutes sometimes, of them getting a bit of bad publicity. And it’s seriously concerning that instead of having proper processes, we now have a popularity contest where, if you can get enough people to shout about your case, the Home Office will just change its mind.

“Many will never get their case in the press because it’s too sensitive, or they don’t have the contacts or the lawyers to get in touch with journalists and they don’t have communities building campaign groups around them.”

Mr Patel said each Home Office U-turn was an admission that there is no solution to the underlying problem whereby people are ”consistently – almost as a matter of course – given entirely unfair decisions that will destroy their lives until they’re lucky enough to get them turned around”.

Danielle Blake, a legal expert from the Immigration Advice Service (IAS), said it was a “big ask” for clients to willingly expose their personal circumstances to the world, but conceded that media exposure was often required to obtain a fair and timely resolution from the Home Office.

She added: “As advisers we come across many clients who are in the most desperate of situations. A lot of them are separated from their loved ones and have been for a very long time. All of this adds several months onto an already long and emotionally draining process. It’s very upsetting to think that for those who wish to keep their story private, they face being stuck on a never-ending merry-go-round of paying exorbitant Home Office fees, only to come up against a brick wall of non-communication.”

With Brexit on the horizon, campaigners raised concerns that an already “broken” system is going to be placed under even more pressure, with potentially disastrous implications.

Mr Patel said: “The Home Office can’t function with the number of applications made currently. It’s going to get a lot worse when the government has to develop an immigration system that includes EU nationals as well. Whatever happens, the pressure on the Home Office both in terms of future migration and dealing with the people here already is going to be huge. To prevent disaster they need to completely reform every part of the immigration system, because currently it is completely broken.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has been clear since his first day in office that he wants a different approach to the immigration system which provides control, but is fair and humane. If evidence about a case comes to light then it will be considered by caseworkers, but solely because a case is covered in the media does not mean it will receive a favourable decision.”

Source: Home Office in ‘continuous state of disaster management’ amid surge in immigration u-turns

UK: Sajid Javid apologises to immigration applicants forced to give DNA samples

He almost appears to be the “Minister of Apologies” for the measures instituted under former Home Secretary and current PM May:

The home secretary has apologised to immigrants – including to Afghan nationals who worked for the British armed forces and Gurkha soldiers – who were forced to provide DNA samples under the government’s hostile environment agenda.

People seeking to live and work in the UK on the basis of a family relationship can choose to provide DNA to prove a relationship to support an application.

But Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that in June it became apparent that the provision of DNA evidence had been made a requirement and was “not simply a request” in a number of family visa applications.

A review into the scandal published by the Home Office on Thursday found that at least 449 demands for DNA were issued, including 51 to Gurkha soldiers.

Ministers have previously revealed that 1,150 Afghan nationals, including 700 family members and parents of those employed by UK government, have been relocated to UK under a scheme targeted by the mandatory DNA testing, although the exact number subject to the tests is unknown.

Yvette Cooper, Labour chair of the home affairs select committee, said: “The revelation that the Home Office has been unlawfully requiring DNA tests in hundreds of immigration applications is deeply troubling and, coming after the Windrush crisis, suggests that something has gone very wrong in the Home Office again.”

“Today I want to take this opportunity to apologise to those who have been affected by this process,” Javid said.

Javid said he had set up a new taskforce for anyone who felt they had been wrongly required to provide DNA evidence for an immigration application. But he added he would order a broader review into Home Office processes to ensure the department was “fit for the modern world”.

“I know that the immigration system is operated by many highly committed people but we must make sure that the structures and processes they use are fit for the modern world and fit for a new immigration system which we will be bringing in after we leave the European Union.

“I will be reviewing the structures and processes more broadly, the structures and processes that we have to ensure they [are] fair and humane. I will now consider what form that review will take.”

Javid said he had issued instructions that officials must not mandatorily seek DNA evidence and would be looking to reimburse any individual who experienced financial loss as a result of the problem. He said they would also be examining whether DNA had been illegally demanded in any other area of the immigration system.

The home secretary said the issue came to light over the summer and an internal review was immediately ordered. The review had finished but there was further work to to be done to establish the scale of the problem, Javid said.

“But regardless of the numbers of the people that have been affected, one case is one too many,” he said. “I’m determined to get to the bottom of how and why in some cases people can be compelled to supply DNA evidence in the first place.”

The majority of cases identified were part of a Home Office operation called Operation Fugal, which started in April 2016, to clamp down on alleged fraud in some family and human rights immigration applications.

Almost 400 letters sent as part of the operation incorrectly stated that the applicant had to provide DNA evidence and that not providing such information without a reasonable excuse would lead to their application being refused on suitability grounds.

Javid said 83 applications were refused, including seven solely for the failure to provide DNA evidence. A further six appear to have been refused for failure to provide DNA evidence where this was not the sole reason.

In addition, the home secretary said the illegal requirement to provide DNA had been applied to Gurkha soldiers and Afghan nationals who had worked for the UK government.

In January 2015, a scheme was expanded to allow adult dependant children of Gurkhas discharged before 1997 to settle in the UK, Javid said.

Guidance was published that stated DNA evidence might be required and that applications could be refused if that evidence was not provided without reasonable excuse within four weeks.

“This published guidance was wrong and has now been updated,” Javid said, adding that there were 51 cases identified where DNA evidence was requested from applicants at their own cost.

There were four cases from the same family who had their application refused solely because they did not provide DNA evidence.

In 2013, applications from Afghan nationals formerly employed by the UK government to resettle in the UK were welcomed. But the terms of the scheme included mandatory DNA testing for family groups paid for by the UK government, Javid said.

Investigations suggest that no one making an application under this scheme has been refused because they did not take a DNA test, he said. “Nonetheless mandatory testing should not have been part of this scheme and this requirement has now been removed,” the home secretary continued.

“In particular I would like to extend my apology to the Gurkhas and Afghans that have been affected. The two schemes I’ve described were put in place to help the families of those who have served to keep our country safe. I’m sorry that demands were made of them that should never have been.”

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: “Abuses like this don’t fall from the sky. Officials at the Home Office have been carrying out the government’s hostile environment policy, which is also what led to the Windrush scandal. People are being treated as guilty or illegal unless they can prove their innocence.

“We need a fair and robust immigration system, but the hostile environment isn’t it and the government should end it.”

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, said: “The Home Office has once again been exposed as being a law unto itself. The home secretary needs to face up to the fact that problems in his department are systemic, chronic and deep-rooted.”

Source: Sajid Javid apologises to immigration applicants forced to give DNA samples

How The Jewish Left Learned To Stop Playing Defense And Fight Anti-Semitism

While I don’t follow the UK debates in detail, I found this commentary of interest:

It is no surprise that the British Labour party would ask an anti-Zionist to help fight anti-Semitism. Labor’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has long supported the Palestinian cause, and facing a long-running scandal over Jew hatred in Labor, it is natural that the British Left would turn to the Jewish Left. Indeed, Corbyn has long been friendly with Jewdas, the irreverent, non-Zionist left-wing group whose member, Annie Cohen, led an “interactive workshop” to “raise awareness of anti-Semitism” to a branch of Labor.

Rather, the surprise is that the Jewish Left is now in the business of offering anti-Semitism workshops.

For many years, the Left has responded to allegations of anti-Semitism defensively. The Left traditionally argues that claims of anti-Semitism are used cynically to delegitimize criticisms of the Israeli government.

I would know: I have made this argument many times.

Ours was a reactive analysis of anti-Semitism, which ceded the term to the Right and then frantically played defense, trying to stave off Leon Wieseltier’s or Abe Foxman’s assaults on this or that progressive figure.

But over the last five years, a younger, radical segment of the Jewish left has positively embraced the term “anti-Semitism” — along with fighting it.

These lefties, associated with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), IfNotNow, and portions of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), put anti-Semitism at the center of their political practice. “We show up for ourselves,” IfNotNow’s principles announce. “We acknowledge the existence of anti-Jewish oppression, in the world and in ourselves.”

And indeed, the group regularly runs trainings on internalized anti-Semitism. This is startling and audacious, given that for decades, “self-hating Jew” has been the term of abuse right-wingers use for critics of the Occupation.

Moreover, these groups tell a clear, coherent story about what anti-Semitism is, a story that is fully compatible with non- or anti-Zionism and which fits Jews into the Left’s broader analyses of class, race and gender.

The Left can talk about anti-Semitism in part because of the surge of right-wing anti-Semitism, especially since Donald Trump’s election. White nationalists are chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and George Soros has become the object of conservative conspiracy theories.

Such circumstances have eroded the link that the Right forged over the last half-century between anti-Semitism and Israeli politics.

When you ask a millennial to picture an anti-Semite, we imagine not a left-wing Muslim but an alt-right white man.

But the shift on the Left goes deeper than momentary politics, because it reflects a new theory and philosophy of anti-Semitism.

I first encountered that theory in April Rosenblum’s 2007 pamphlet, “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere,” which I read as a college student. Rosenblum argued that anti-Semitism had emerged from medieval Christianity, and that Jews provided ruling elites, whether in feudal Europe or under global capitalism, a convenient scapegoat for their crimes. She thus integrated thinking about anti-Semitism into the Left’s broader account of how power works across many axes of oppression.

Flash forward to 2017, when JFREJ released “Understanding Anti-Semitism: An Offering to Our Movement.” The document, which quotes Rosenblum, also extends her analysis: “Originating in European Christianity,” anti-Semitism has “functioned to protect the prevailing economic system and the almost exclusively Christian ruling class by diverting blame for hardship onto Jews.”

That is, Jewish middlemen make convenient targets for the rage of the oppressed. JFREJ also connects anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, showing how stereotypes about Jews and Muslims are parallel and intertwined.

In short, the document crafts a usable account of Jewish identity, one that places our history in a larger context of racial and economic exploitation and oppression.

Most notably, while JFREJ does take the standard line on Israel (“Criticisms of Israel and Zionism are not inherently or inevitably anti-Jewish), that gets only a page or two out of forty-four. They are consciously crafting a broader definition of anti-Semitism, one in which Israel politics are mostly a distraction. “Confronting antisemitism,” the pamphlet concludes, “is a necessary precondition for collective liberation.”

You can see the struggle between the two Left views of anti-Semitism playing out within an organization like JVP. The edited collection they released in 2017, “On anti-Semitism,” often seems at war with itself. Some of the essays emphasize the ephemerality of anti-Semitism, or the role of the Israeli government in exaggerating the problem of Left anti-Semitism and discrediting pro-Palestinian advocacy. One essay even declares that there is no anti-Semitism, strictly speaking, in the United States: anti-Jewish prejudice, sure, but no structural oppression of Jews.

On the other hand, many of the contributions of younger Jews were enthusiastic about fighting anti-Semitism, which they placed alongside homophobia, classism, and racism as a basic category of radical analysis. (It bears saying that much of the new theory of anti-Semitism comes from queer Jews and Jews of Color, who often do not enjoy the privileges of the white, mainstream American Jewry and who naturally speak the language of intersectional oppression.)

The JVP collection didn’t say much that was new, but it was fascinating as an index of the two, opposed impulses on the Left: to minimize the significance of anti-Semitism and to see it everywhere; to see it largely as ploy by the Israeli Right and to see it as fundamentally baked into Western civilization.

I have some worries about the new narrative of anti-Semitism. For many white Jews, I think, it is all too convenient to rediscover our own oppression at a moment when our whiteness and privilege make us increasingly uncomfortable.

The liberal interest in Steve Bannon’s alleged anti-Semitism seemed to me very odd: no one in the Trump administration is talking of deporting Jews or banning circumcision, after all.

This is not a critique of JFREJ or IfNotNow, both of which aim to be intentional and careful about race; it is rather my nervousness about how this new narrative circulates in the broader culture.

I have seen too many Facebook declarations to the effect of “I’m not white, I’m Jewish” to be entirely comfortable with re-emphasizing Jewish oppression.

Nonetheless, I think that a broader, proactive analysis of anti-Semitism is the better of the two options for the Left.

Our longstanding defensive posture on anti-Semitism largely failed, for obvious tactical reasons. It was fundamentally reactive, it allowed our opponents to set the terms of the debate, and it meant we were constantly apologizing for perceived faults.

The new Left approach to anti-Semitism, by contrast, puts the Right on the defensive. It is positive and aggressive.

Moreover, it offers Jews a usable identity in the age of Trump: a story in which the struggle for social justice is not merely a Jewish value, but a necessity for Jewish survival.

Source: How The Jewish Left Learned To Stop Playing Defense And Fight Anti-Semitism