Tag Archives: asylum

Roger Roberts: Could we not be the nation that leads morally in this ruptured world

Yesterday, Roger Roberts was one of many Liberal Democrat peers to take part in the Queen’s Speech debate. He’s sent us his speech on the treatment of refugees, an issue very close to his heart:

 In the wide-ranging speeches, we had one great disappointment, and I am sure the Minister involved will know exactly what I am referring to; there has been no commitment at all to receiving the 20,000 Syrian refugees as promised by David Cameron. It is not there in the Queen’s Speech. Nor is there a commitment to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees. When you think that in Europe there are still about 88,000 of these children by themselves, we have met no commitment whatever in the Speech that we are discussing this afternoon. It has been a great disappointment in that direction.

We are probably going to get another immigration Bill; we get one every Session. I am not sure what we are going to do in a two-year Session: will we get two or just one and a half? We are going to get new legislation, and every time we do it makes it more difficult for those who are vulnerable and those who wish to escape from total austerity to come here. We can promote many amendments when that new Bill comes. We can ask why asylum seekers are still refused permission to work for the first 12 months of their time in the United Kingdom. Is there any reason whatever? I cannot see any. Why, also, do we have legislation that permits 18 year-olds to be deported? Those who are deported are largely those who have had no access to legal advice. The Government could, quite easily I think, make a commitment that everyone who approaches 18 years of age shall at least have the benefit of top-rate legal advice.

There is one other thing I would like to see in the new immigration Bill. Do you know how much people get every week when they are applying? It is £36.95, and this has not increased at all in the past five or six years. Anything that we can do to uprate that to the present cost of living would be very welcome.

I have come across a poem by Warsan Shire of Somalia that describes the circumstances, and I shall quote part of it:

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John Leech writes…Help save fire-rescue hero from deportation

If I asked you to imagine your ideal community, who and what would be in it? What kind of people would you choose to have as your neighbour? Would you want a neighbour who would be there in your moment of need – maybe even go as far as risking their life for you?

Well, you may have heard that just over a month ago, a resident here in Manchester did just that.

Robert Chilowa ran to the scene of a ferocious blaze engulfing a neighbour’s house after hearing screams of terror. He rescued two young children from the flames and assisted another who had broken her ankle in the disaster that had already claimed the lives of their grandparents. His heroic efforts were the only saving grace in an otherwise tragic event.

Now, I’ll take a pretty good guess that you’d want this man as your neighbour, right? Well, despite braving the devastating fire in Withington, rightly garnering national headlines, he has now been threatened with deportation.

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: Forcing teenagers back to war zones another example of Tory inhumanity

“Inhumanity” is a word that you should use with caution, but when you are looking at a Government that has no compunction about sending child asylum seekers back to war zones the minute they turn 18, when they may have grown up here and have nothing left to go back to, then they’ve earned it.

Roger Roberts is laying down a marker for the future as this country prepares to take in some unaccompanied child refugees. What will become of them when they turn 18? Will they be sent back to a devastated Syria where they may have no connections, no …

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Paddy: Dishonouring service of Afghan interpreters is our worst act of shame

Paddy Ashdown condemned the Government after an Afghan interpreter, Nangyalai Dawoodzai, who had to leave his country after spending 3 years helping the British forces for, killed himself after being told his application for asylum in the UK had failed and he would be returned to Italy, the first European country he had arrived in.

From the Guardian:

The 29-year-old, who paid people smugglers to reach the UK, was told his request for asylum in Britain had been rejected when it was found he had been fingerprinted in Italy on arrival in Europe, according to the Daily Mail.

Under the EU’s Dublin regulation, aimed at preventing multiple asylum claims by individuals, Dawoodzai had to pursue his claim in the first country he applied in.

Faced with being sent back to Italy to claim political asylum there he killed himself, a fellow translator told the newspaper.

Paddy, who has long campaigned for these interpreters to be allowed to settle here, was understandably furious.

Lord Ashdown, who has championed the cause of Afghan war interpreters for years, said their treatment was scandalous.

It wrenches your heart out sideways. Here is a man who served in Helmand, probably on the frontline, who did it day in and day out for British troops, no going back home every six months, whose family were not tucked away safe but was in the community.

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…Another win for humanitarians in the Lords

I bumped into the Lords Home Office minister immediately after one of the Government’s socking defeats on the Trade Union Bill, consoling himself that losing by 17 in the vote on an Immigration Bill amendment time-limiting immigration detention was almost a victory.

But the Government lost – we won!  The amendment was led by crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham, who was Chief Inspector of Prisons and so knows whereof he speaks, supported by the Labour and the Liberal Democrat front benches: 63% of our peers voted compared with 46% of Labour’s.  Of course it may not stick.  The Bill will go back to the Commons where the Government could ping it straight back to the Lords (parliamentary ping-pong), or propose a compromise or changes ranging from the substantive to the technical (or accept it unchanged – but that almost never happens), but it cannot be ignored.

There is much to be said about immigration detention and the conditions in immigration removal centres.  I will simply note the paradox which causes detainees so much despair: You have no hope, as you don’t know when you might be released, and at the same time you have no certainty as you might in fact be released tomorrow.

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Baroness Shas Sheehan writes…The refugee crisis on our doorstep

In a situation that goes from bad to worse, with no end point in sight, there has been one ray of hope.

On 18 January, the Upper Tribunal ruled that three  unaccompanied minors and a vulnerable young man with mental health problems, from the camp in Calais, had a bona fide case to be allowed to join relatives already resident in the UK.

Thanks to a legal challenge coordinated by Citizens UK, the Home Office has been told to immediately allow the three children and one adult to join their families.

Hitherto, the Government had been arguing that, under the Dublin III convention, applications for asylum must be made and processed in France. However, the reality is that the French system is broken, and applications from asylum seekers with family already resident in the UK are not being processed and passed on to the UK. In effect, the safe and legal route has been denied to asylum seekers who have done all that has been asked of them.

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No, really, it’s not the same as being on an all-inclusive holiday

There have been a couple of shocking stories this week about how asylum seekers have been, however, inadvertently, stigmatised which can lead to them being attacked and intimidated. First we had the Middlesborough “red doors” controversy and then, this week, the appalling news that asylum seekers in a hostel in Caefiff were forced to wear wristbands to access their food.

Newly arrived asylum seekers in the Welsh capital who are housed by Clearsprings Ready Homes, a private firm contracted by the Home Office, are being told that they must wear the wristbands all the time otherwise they will not be fed. The wristbands entitle the asylum seekers, who cannot work and are not given money, to three meals a day.

That practice was quickly stopped when the company was shamed in the press, but I have been concerned to see that some people have been saying that it’s ok to do this to people, because if you’re on an all-inclusive holiday, you have to wear a wristband. Really, it’s so not.

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