Before I get into this week’s press coverage of immigration issues, an older piece I think I missed at the time. Before Christmas, Labour MP Kate Osamor visited an immigration removal centre – coyly unnamed, but “within earshot of an airport” – and wrote a powerful account of the visit for the Independent. It has 4,000 shares on social media, too.
Sunday’s Observer carried a short plug for the charity Praxis, focusing on its work with victims of trafficking. Case worker Bethan Lant is quoted on the hardening enforcement situation: “people who were never affected by being immigrants are having problems… those who came from the Caribbean in the 1960s are having to show their applications”.
Monday’s Times carried the headline: “Immigration centres accused of slavery over £1-an-hour pay”. Toufique Hossain of Duncan Lewis seems to have been behind the story, using Freedom of Information requests to calculate that the different between the total pay given to immigration detainees and what they would have earned for the same hours at minimum wage comes to £5 million a year.
Refugee integration in Scotland
Asylum seeker accommodation
The Guardian‘s John Harris has been to Coventry, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester visiting G4S housing. Conditions, sadly, are dreadful. The concluding interview with the Congolese political activist makes particularly difficult reading, but none of it is nice.
Retired NHS nurse refused visit visa
Also in the Guardian on Wednesday, an account of the 83-year-old who “has had multiple requests to visit her family in the UK refused, despite drawing an NHS pension and a full British state pension”.
Students boost economy
A report by the Higher Education Policy Institute and others says that international students contribute £20 billion a year to the economy. It is covered in the Times and Financial Times. The Home Office response includes “we have commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to provide an objective assessment of the impact of EU and non-EU students”. MAC is hardly going to say anything different.
Justice for Paulette Wilson
Good news, finally, for the Jamaican grandmother threatened with deportation after half a century in the UK. 61-year-old Ms Wilson spent a week in Yarl’s Wood last year but has now been issued with a biometric residence permit. Credit goes to Jim Wilson of the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Wolverhampton, who says that “her papers had come through unusually quickly once the case was highlighted in the media”. The Guardian‘s Amelia Gentleman has the story.
The Express reports on the sentencing of a Turkish asylum seeker who remained in the UK claiming benefits with the aid of a faked immigration document despite being appeals rights exhausted since 2002. A Home Office official was dragged into court by Recorder Oliver Sells QC to explain what had gone wrong, the report claims.
Bank account checks
The beginning of checks on current accounts held by “illegal migrants”, with a view to freezing or closing them, makes the papers from the Sun to the Guardian. New immigration minister Caroline Nokes plugs the scheme in the Telegraph, but as it is “Premium” paywalled content we are spared the trouble of reading it. Even Telegraph subscribers may have difficulty getting past what is, in this context, a rather counter-intuitive opening line: “Britain is an open and welcoming country when it comes to attracting the brightest and best people from around the world”.
We’ve set out our views on this extension of the hostile environment before, but here’s Colin once more, with feeling:
Surely won’t be long now before accounts of lawful migrants are accidentally closed because of Home Office mistakes. https://t.co/FnqWVZjNrr
— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) January 12, 2018
We’ll have more on this one on Monday.
A certain US President won’t be needing a visit visa after all. In case the cancellation of Donald Trump’s February embassy-opening trip escaped your notice, it’s covered on BBC News and pretty much everywhere else on the internet. Sad!