What will happen to immigration policy and law following the 2017 General Election?

It is the Queen’s Speech today. This sets out the legislative agenda for the coming Parliament in 2017 and 2018. But no party managed to win an overall majority in the General Election. We have what the political pundits and historians call a Hung Parliament in which there is a party which has more MPs than any other, but not enough MPs to outvote all of the other parties if they all voted together. This is going to make it very difficult for the new Government to pass primary legislation, by which I mean new Acts of Parliament. But any Government needs to look like it is doing something and…

21st June 2017 By Colin Yeo

What does the Democratic Unionist Party think about immigration?

Picking through varous manifestos and public statements of the Democratic Unionist Party and its leading members reveals a few clues about the stance of the party on immigration issues. This may prove critical in the lifetime of the coming Government — whether that be days, weeks or months — because it is only with the support of the DUP that any new immigration legislation can be passed and the support of the DUP may be crucial if challenges are brought to immigration rules and regulations laid before Parliament. Before going further, though, bear in mind that immigration law is not a devolved issue so it is not something that parties…

13th June 2017 By Colin Yeo

The interregnum: 11 years without free movement from 1962 to 1973

There was a short period of just 11 years between 1962 and 1973 when free movement of people did not apply in the UK. Other than during that time, businesses and public services have had easy access to workers from other countries. Following Brexit, the UK will be embarking on a similar period. If the full force of UK immigration law is brought to bear on all foreign nationals, this will require major adjustments in economy and society. One wonders how long the interregnum might last this time. This blog post is based on notes for a talk I was due to give last week but had to pull out of…

19th May 2017 By Colin Yeo

The astonishing breadth of Trump’s Muslim ban is truly breathtaking

Take Trump seriously but not literally, said Peter Thiel, Paypal founder, Gawker litigation financier and prominent Trump supporter. Well, it turns out that Trump meant what he said. Literally. Muslims will be banned, literally. The wall will be built, literally. Mexico will pay for it, literally. President Trump's press sec just announced on Air Force One that the Mexican wall will be funded by a 20% import tax from Mexico… — Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) January 26, 2017 If you doubt the discriminatory intent and think this is about national security or public safety, it isn’t. Former New York City Mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani has talked in public about…

29th January 2017 By Colin Yeo

New Country Guidance case on Eritrea finds real risk on return

The Upper Tribunal has issued a new Country Guidance case on Eritrea: MST and Others (national service – risk categories) (CG) [2016] UKUT 443 (IAC). It weighs in at 459 paragraphs plus voluminous appendices. The findings are good news for Eritrean refugees seeking sanctuary; the tribunal recognises the danger they face if returned. Almost any Eritrean who reaches the UK is likely to be a refugee given that the conditions of military service are found to amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and forced labour, those who have evaded that military service are at real risk of additional persecution on return and the categories of person who are permitted to…

11th October 2016 By Colin Yeo

Liberalism is failing. It does not have to.

On 16 June 2016, during a referendum campaign dominated by the issue of whether there are too many foreigners in the UK, Member of Parliament Jo Cox was shot and stabbed multiple times outside a surgery in her constituency. She later died from her injuries, leaving two young sons and a husband. A man arrested and charged with her murder later cried “death to traitors” in court. On Thursday 23rd June 2016, the referendum in question was held. On the face of it, the question was whether the UK should leave the European Union. The British people voted to leave by a slender majority of 52:48. The principle motivation for the…

5th October 2016 By Colin Yeo

A little free advice from Lucy Reed

As I sat down today, Sunday, to catch up with some billing, think about recording a Podcast, prep some more blog posts, work out what I want to say in oral evidence to the Parliamentary Immigration Bill committee next week (eek!) and look over yet more pro bono paperwork, this piece by the excellent family law blogger and barrister Lucy Reed (aka @familoo) caught my eye on Twitter. It is about the constant battle for some lawyers between desire to do Good Things and be Successful and the limited time available and the needs of others in our lives. Couldn’t agree more with what she says. I am regularly asked for free…

18th October 2015 By Colin Yeo

Government anti immigration campaigns fuel public immigration concerns

At a time of escalating rhetoric by Ministers, with their language of invasion, inundation and insects, a new report by Mapping Immigration Controversy confirms that the main effect of the Government campaigns on immigration are fear and anger, not reassurance. Emotions are stoked not dampened. Mapping Immigration Controversy has been running since 2013. It has delivered hard-hitting blog posts on such topics as the Yarl’s Wood detention centre and interviews with asylum seekers across the country on their perspective on the government initiatives. The linked briefing represents the conclusion of their project.

18th August 2015 By Paul Erdunast

General election 2015

I’m voting Labour today, and I will be spending the day out campaigning for my local candidate, Sarah Sackman. No party is perfect and the last Labour Government was deeply flawed in many ways, particularly in its approach to asylum issues. I resigned my long standing membership of the party when the odious and now disgraced Phil Woolas was Minister for Immigration because of his revolting attacks on asylum seekers and those who assist them. The current Labour Party also has its flaws, not least the failure of the current leadership to defend Labour’s record in Government. My reasons for voting Labour despite this are partly based on immigration issues…

7th May 2015 By Colin Yeo

The human cost of borders

If you click the image above it will take you through to a presentation I’ve put together on the human cost of borders. The text and most of the images are taken from a TEDx talk I did last weekend and are compiled using the Adobe Slate app on iPad. I was going to save it for when the video of the TEDx event is ready but with the awful deaths at sea this week it seems an appropriate time to put it out there. I’ll post up a link to the video of the talk once it is available.

17th April 2015 By Colin Yeo

The sobbing doctor: the mask of professionalism

The image above is of a Californian doctor sobbing outside the hospital building having lost the 19 year old patient on whom he was operating. It has gone viral on social media. It was also picked up in The Guardian in an interesting article by Deborah Orr: The image of the sobbing doctor proves that ‘professional distance’ has its human limits. Orr goes on to discuss Louisiana lawyer Marty Stroud, who thirty years ago prosecuted for murder a man he now believes to be innocent who has only now been released from death row and who has months to live. Stroud regrets his role and actions, despite simply having been doing his…

30th March 2015 By Colin Yeo

Why is the immigration tribunal so uniquely impervious to modernity?

In a recent determination, the President of the Upper Tribunal suggested that documents and submissions could be sent electronically to the tribunal in order to facilitate efficient justice: …parties and their representatives are strongly encouraged to communicate electronically with the Tribunal and, further, to seek confirmation that important communications and/or attachments have been received. He neglected to provide an email address. Last week I had to first of all find the fax numbers for a tribunal hearing centre and relevant Home Office Presenting Officer Unit, then find a working fax machine in the labyrinthine Garden Court Chambers interior, work out how it worked (dial 9 first, I eventually remembered) and…

26th February 2015 By Colin Yeo

Exile on Immigration Street

It’s pleasing to see that the residents of Derby Road in Southampton have taken a strong stand against the making of ‘Immigration Street’, Channel 4 and Love Productions sequel to ‘Benefits Street’ (a not so much fly on the wall as stir up the hornets style of documentary about the residents of James Turner Street in Birmingham) . According to Homa Khaleeli’s article in the Guardian, the residents of Derby Road (the location of Immigration Street) are concerned that they will be misrepresented in the same way that the residents of James Turner Street were, and the programme will cause a fallout within the community as well as attract TV…

12th February 2015 By Chris McWatters

The fight goes on

To those of us in favour of a No vote for unity and solidarity, the result of the Scottish referendum is a huge relief. My own sentiments were a mixture of emotion and fear. As the child of a Scottish mother and English father I have been raised to be British, never English or Scottish. I was proud to wear my kilt at my wedding and have many relatives and friends on both sides of the border. I would have been entitled to Scottish citizenship had the vote gone the other way. At the same time, I have been shaped primarily by the English education system and experience. I felt like my…

19th September 2014 By Colin Yeo

Free Movement and Scottish Independence

For supporters of the No Borders movement, it is an article of faith that borders are an unnecessary interference with human freedom and human nature. Borders by their nature separate people, break up families, hold back economic and cultural development and discriminate between otherwise equal humans on the basis of artificial nationality laws. These fake frontiers and their checkpoints are intended to discourage free movement, marking like scent the territory of a particular set of politicians.

25th August 2014 By Colin Yeo

Ethnographic study of “culture of disbelief” at Taylor House

A fascinating study of power play and relationships inside and outside the hearing room has been published as a working paper by the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford: The culture of disbelief: an ethnographic approach to understanding an under-theorised concept in the UK asylum system by Jessica Anderson, Jeannine Hollaus, Annelisa Lindsay, Colin Williamson. I highly recommend taking a look. It provides that rare thing: a fresh, external view of the work of the immigration tribunal and the key actors, judges, representatives and appellants.

6th August 2014 By Colin Yeo

Home Office standard human rights submissions

Home Office appeals against first instance judge decisions used to be very rare indeed. Some years ago, it apparently became standard practice to seek permission to appeal in some asylum allowed appeals and all or virtually all deportations cases. It now appears to be standard practice for the Home Office to seek permission to appeal against any appeal that is allowed on human rights grounds., or at lest on human rights grounds only. The more or less standard grounds are as follows:

5th June 2014 By Colin Yeo

What happened to the radical lawyers?

What is a radical lawyer? What I mean by it are those lawyers whose actions and attitudes were largely motivated by a political ideology – socialism and further left; or at least angry lawyers dedicated to fundamental changes to the law, its institutions and the legal system. They were fearless in putting their often unpopular views across, and it was their badge of honour to be criticised intemperately by others in the legal system. I frequently used to hear vile, unprintable, almost hysterical remarks made about leftie lawyers; I have seen judges in court barely able to speak civilly to the likes of Michael Mansfield, such was their hatred of…

6th March 2014 By Colin Yeo

Justice Alliance petition – Joanna Lumley joins fight for Legal Aid

Actress and justice campaigner Joanna Lumley has joined her voice to the rising chorus of concern about the catastrophic changes to Legal Aid. She adds her name, forever associated with the legally aided fight for the rights of Gurkhas (not to mention Ab Fab, James Bond and the New Avengers), to the excellent Justice Alliance’s new petition which has had thousands of signatures in only a few hours.

17th January 2014 By Greg Ó Ceallaigh

Richmond Mags dedicated immigration hearing centre from April

There are three courts at Richmond Mags being used for immigration hearings now but all five will apparently be used for immigration hearings from April. Meanwhile, the family court at Richmond is apparently moving to Hatton Cross, which has been seriously underused for immigration cases in recent months despite the growing waiting times for immigration appeals. UPDATE: experience so far suggests that car users will be attempting to push their way to the front of the Richmond lists because parking here is not free. Be warned, anyone does that to me and I will make them *eat* their car keys.

9th January 2014 By Free Movement

‘Officers 1 Immigrants 0’: The mob mentality of the Immigration Bill

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Immigration Bill

I want to persuade you that our first task when faced with a social evil like the Immigration Bill is not to just to condemn but to understand it.  I say that because those who fail to grasp the deeper motives driving this legislation will underestimate the magnitude of the menace it represents.  And it is great, and serious. On the surface at least this threat resides in the social lies it tells about migrants.  Crass lies like the inflation of the ‘problem’ migrants present, their supposedly base nature and malignant motives.  All part of the readying of the ground for a corrosion of fundamental freedoms.  However, this corrosive effect…

29th October 2013 By Dexter Dias QC

Grayling Syndrome: an acute form of social blindness

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Immigration Bill

Originally posted at the Justice Gap. From as early as the 1880s doctors began to report a truly puzzling medical condition. Eventually named ‘Anton’s Syndrome’, medics noticed that some patients who had suffered a sudden loss of sight continued to deny their blindness, pretending that they could see, constructing ever more elaborate stories to justify their stumbles and collisions with furniture. This phenomenon provides us with an alternative lens to view not only Chris Grayling’s plans to cut Legal Aid to ‘immigrants and foreigners’, but the ethos underpinning the Government’s Immigration Bill, which has its Second Reading today. Because what we are witnessing unfolding before us is a syndrome that…

22nd October 2013 By Dexter Dias QC

Save Justice UK – Postcards for Justice

The difference between a recession and a boom, as any legal aid lawyer will tell you, is that during a boom the government cuts legal aid, whereas during a recession they cut everything else as well. There was a timely reminder yesterday from President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger as to the threat to access to justice posed by the ongoing evisceration of legal aid:

17th October 2013 By Greg Ó Ceallaigh

The new Immigration Bill is sinister and nasty

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Immigration Bill

The new Immigration Bill is a sinister, nasty piece of legislation. Building on man-made laws that define certain humans as ‘illegal’, it seeks to create an even more hostile environment for an already marginalised section of society. People are to be deprived of employment, bank accounts, driving licences, accommodation and family life. Legal rights for seeking redress will be severely curtailed and the courts instructed by Parliament how to decide cases. At the same time social media channels churn out bile, propaganda wagons have been sent to patrol the streets bearing a slogan of hate and ‘papers, please‘ checks at public transport and on streets are spreading. But families will…

16th October 2013 By Colin Yeo

Role of the advocate at trial

[UPDATED] In his final judgment in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Judge has given some interesting guidance given on the role of the advocate in a contentious trial. The case is R v Farooqi & Ors [2013] EWCA Crim 1649 and the judgment is that of the court. The advocate whose conduct generated the appeal is named but declined to respond to the allegations. His version of events is absent from the judgment. The guidance on the role of the advocate is so important that rather than linking I think it is worth reproducing parts in full:

3rd October 2013 By Colin Yeo

Theresa May unveils Tory immigration plans

Self-styled Theresa ‘CRAZY’ May, our esteemed Home Secretary, has unveiled a range of hardline new immigration measures at the Conservative Party conference. I’ve added the capitals, but in relating her little anecdote about Abu Qatada she seems happy enough to be associated with the moniker: I was told a story by one of our immigration officials who was there when Qatada finally got on the plane.  As the official signed off the last of the paperwork, Qatada looked at him and asked, “is Crazy May flying with me?”  I admit I was crazy – crazy with the European Court of Human Rights – and I know I wasn’t the only one. You…

1st October 2013 By Colin Yeo

Night, morning, afternoon, night

Up late last night on urgent well paid business immigration opinion. In court this morning on not-so-well-paid family immigration case. In court this afternoon pro bono for intervention on behalf of a charity. Off to solicitor firm party in Tottenham tonight. All good, but looking forward to the weekend!

26th September 2013 By Colin Yeo

Immigration detention: what is the point?

The horrific news of sexual abuse by private security contractors at Yarlswood, the female-only immigration detention centre near Bedford, is awful and shocking. It is very far from the first time that problems or outright abuse at Yarlswood has been reported, though. Various examples from 2009 onwards can be found here, here, here, here, here. And this comes just days after Mark Harper expressed his sinister reasons for detaining pregnant women at Yarlswood. As I’ve said before: The prolonged and in some cases indefinite detention of immigrants is a stain on this society. Sometimes the detainees have committed crimes. Their immigration detention often exceeds their criminal sentence. While The Daily Mail might celebrate…

16th September 2013 By Colin Yeo

Injunctions for removal from fast track

One overlooked solution to the one way asylum fast track to refusal and removal is to seek an injunction preventing consideration under the fast track process. This option should be seriously considered where the client has good grounds for asserting that a premature refusal decision by the Home Office will be an unfair one.

12th September 2013 By Colin Yeo

Refugee “cause lawyering” in the UK

Professor Stephen Meili of the University of Minnesota Law School has written a very interesting article entitled U.K. Refugee Lawyers: Pushing the Boundaries of Domestic Court Acceptance of International Human Rights Law for the Boston College Law Review 54 B.C.L. Rev. 1123 (2013). It is fascinating for we UK refugee lawyers to get an external perspective on our work.

5th September 2013 By Colin Yeo

Transfer of immigration judicial reviews to Upper Tribunal

It is finally almost upon us: the transfer of judicial review claims from the High Court to the Upper Tribunal will take place on 1 November 2013. In addition, applications for permission lodged after 9 September 2013, including those where permission has been refused on the papers and oral renewal is pending, will also be transferred.

30th August 2013 By Colin Yeo

Best practice guide for country experts in immigration cases

Really useful and concise best practice guide for country experts in asylum and immigration cases in the United Kingdom by Anthony Good and Tobias Kelly. Immigration lawyers would be well advised routinely to provide this to their experts. It covers the legal framework including the practice direction on expert evidence, the process of instruction, the role of the expert, common dos and don’ts, format, oral evidence and funding and fees.

28th August 2013 By Colin Yeo

Legal privilege after Snowden

The legal action initiated by David Miranda through UK solicitors Bindmans brings into sharp focus an issue that has been troubling me since the Snowden revelations began: how can a lawyer acting against government be sure that privileged communications with his or her client are not being read by that same government? The simple answer is that there is no guarantee. There is no barrier other than politeness stopping government officials from reading privileged lawyer-client electronic communications.

22nd August 2013 By Colin Yeo

A long time to be separated

My client today applied for a spouse visa in May 2012. A refusal was eventually issued in November 2012. The appeal took place today, 14 months after the application and 8 months after the refusal. The hearing took 20 minutes and it was allowed there and then by the judge. It could be another two or three months until the Home Office get around to issuing the visa, I warned. This is no way to run an immigration system for human beings.

30th July 2013 By Colin Yeo

The Unnameables

I recently suggested that the new name for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Border and Immigration Agency UK Border Agency remains unknown. That is not really true, it turns out, and we are not expected to carry on treating it as the bureaucratic equivalent of The Scottish Play. It is just that there has been no official naming ceremony or announcement as such. The marvellous Sue Shutter wrote in gently to correct me:

24th July 2013 By Colin Yeo

Divided families

Last week saw the anniversary of the miserable new family immigration rules, introduced on 9 July 2012. Heartache and anguish was predicted and has, tragically, come to pass. I attended and spoke at the demonstration outside the Home Office co-ordinated by JCWI, MRN, Brit Cits and others. It was, frankly, distressing to be surrounded by so many fragmented, broken half families

16th July 2013 By Colin Yeo

Ellsberg, Kissinger and the questionable value of secret material

Today the closed material procedure for evidence in civil trials comes into effect. This excludes one of the parties from the proceedings, meaning that they do not get to see the evidence relied on by the other party. It violates one of the basic tenets of fair trial and it breaks down the constitutional barrier between the executive branch and the judicial branch of government, a barrier that is critical to the maintenance of the rule of law. Unfortunately, the civil courts have now caught up with the immigration courts, where closed procedures and secret evidence have been used for many years. With little or no outcry from some of…

1st July 2013 By Colin Yeo

British women disproportionately affected by new immigration rules

A new Freedom of Information request has revealed that British women have been affected disproportionately compared against men by new minimum income rules for spouse and partner applications. There has been a 20% drop in the female-sponsored proportion of applications made, which suggests that women have been disproportionately put off applying for spouses to join them under the new regime. Of the applications that were made there has then been a further 23% drop in the female-sponsored proportion of successful applications in which a visa was subsequently issued. The new rules were brought into force on 9 July 2012. The minimum income requirement for spouses and partners was increased dramatically…

10th June 2013 By Colin Yeo