Here’s your round-up of the immigration and asylum stories that made national headlines this week.
“De-risking” closes migrant accounts
The Guardian‘s business section raises concerns about immigrants’ bank accounts being closed down, with some financial institutions accused of “dumping customers and organisations with links to countries about which they have concerns”.
Morton Hall deaths
Whistleblowers at Morton Hall IRC warned the authorities about safety risks long before four men died in the space of a year, a former clinical lead for suicide and self-harm services at the centre tells the Mirror. The Home Affairs Committee of MPs recently launched an inquiry into the deaths.
PM softening on foreign students
The Mail detects a change in Theresa May’s language on foreign students, with the Prime Minister reportedly saying in China that “they don’t have a long-term impact on the [immigration] numbers”. There has been growing pressure for overseas students to be removed from the official net migration target, given the economic benefit to the country that their fees and know-how represent, but the PM has long resisted this move.
NHS immigration fee hike
Most of the media – see e.g. Guardian and Telegraph – reported that the NHS immigration surcharge is to double, raising the cost of visas across the board. The Mail complains that “the new charge is less than the £600 promised in the Conservative manifesto last year”.
White Paper delay
Monday saw official confirmation that the long-awaited White Paper on immigration, and the resulting Immigration Bill, will not now be published until later this year. It had been expected in 2017. The Sun is among the outlets to cover the story, although the Financial Times (£) first had wind of the delay over the weekend.
Some 350 police officers swooped on a suspected people-smuggling ring on Tuesday in raids coordinated by the National Crime Agency, the Guardian reports. 21 arrests were made.
Cost of immigration detention
The government has spent north of half a billion pounds on immigration detention in the past few years, according to official figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats and reported in the Independent.
Refugee hardship worsens
Also in Wednesday’s Indy is word from the Red Cross that demand for its food parcels, distributed to needy refugees and asylum seekers, has risen 20% in a year.
Scottish migration paper
The Scottish government’s discussion paper on future migration policy made the i and other outlets, although as I am fresh from a University of Glasgow roundtable on the subject, I can condescendingly note that such calls for bespoke immigration rules north of the Tweed are hardly new. Nick has written a helpful introduction to the issues.
EU immigration curbs discussed
“EU citizens would have no more right to come and work in Britain than those of any other country under plans presented to Theresa May’s Brexit war cabinet yesterday”, according to the Times‘s well-informed political team. The paper says that a “level playing field” between EU and non-EU future immigrants is now the preferred option within government, in what would be a wrenching switch from existing free movement rules.
“Rescued slaves” indignant
“Dozens of foreign workers who police feared were held as slaves on a Cornish farm descend on police station insisting their arrested bosses did nothing wrong and should be freed”, the Mail says. The previous day, according to the same outlet, three men had been detained on modern slavery charges. The alleged victims are Lithuanian and Romanian.