Here’s your round-up of the immigration and asylum stories that made national headlines this week.
Last Sunday’s Guardian carried news “Britain has hit its cap on visas for skilled non-European workers for an unprecedented third month in a row”, referring to restricted certificates of sponsorship under Tier 2. This was originally a Free Movement story, through the good offices of Nichola Carter who is quoted by the Guardian.
Brexit transition argument
The Express covered an interview with Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator. He has weighed in on the debate about the terms of any Brexit transition (see previous editions of the round-up), and naturally prefers that it maintains the status quo when it comes to free movement of people. BBC News later reported that the UK has “softened its position” on this in detailed transition proposals.
“Civil servants are refusing to help the Home Office investigate immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally”, according to the Mail. This appears to have come from an Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration report from last month, although I can’t say I noticed that nugget when I reviewed it at the time.
Trafficking victims investigation
BuzzFeed News published a remarkable investigation into the plight of trafficked migrants and their lack of immigration status despite being given official help as victims (although see now the decision in PK (Ghana)  EWCA Civ 98). Of one now elderly Polish man, it is said:
Kredens had struggled through a 30-year ordeal as a modern slave not in some lawless failed state, but in cities across Britain. [But after he was rescued the Home Office] denied Kredens the right to remain in Britain. As a former slave, he could not show that he had been gainfully employed during his time in the country – rendering him an “illegal immigrant” in the government’s eyes and shutting him off from any access to state welfare, including housing.
Wanted: farm labourers
Wanted by Michael Gove, that is. The Financial Times (£) reports that the Environment Secretary sees the need for a new seasonal agricultural workers scheme to get migrants in to pick crops post-Brexit. Farmers — like lawyers before them, when Gove was Justice Secretary — are impressed with their minister. But the Sun proclaims the arch-Brexiteer “out of his tree”.
Labour immigration policy
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott delivered a speech on ending “family break-up through the immigration system”, which was trailed in the Guardian. But it’s no longer on the Labour Party website — possibly because she “sparked fury” by using it to compare “those with concerns about immigration in Britain to people who ‘scapegoated’ minority groups in pre-Nazi Germany”, as the Telegraph put it.
Detainees cuffed in burning bus
A horrific story in the Guardian. Allegedly, staff from security contractor Tascor took time to handcuff migrants headed for a removal flight before allowing them to get off a bus that had caught on fire. Further comment is superfluous.
“Two Ukrainians who tried to smuggle six of their countrymen into Britain on a yacht have been jailed”, the Express reported on Wednesday. The pair were caught in the English Channel by Border Force officers.
Commonwealth migrant plight
The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman has published interviews with several elderly migrants originally from former British colonies but who have lived here for decades — and are now being hounded for lack of immigration status. The account of homeless Renford McIntyre, “surprised and confused to be told he was not British” despite having arrived in 1968, is awful. Diplomats from the Caribbean have since weighed in.
I was going to do a post on this story that originated at specialist website GP Online, but full credit to the Mail which beat me to it in giving the story a wider airing. A leaked letter from a Home Office official to a Liverpool GP reads as follows:
It is with great regret that [X’s] application for leave to remain has been refused.
From evidence submitted to the Home Office [X] is attending [the practice].
On the patient’s next visit to the surgery, could you serve the refuse decision. This is due to the patient’s ongoing mental health.
The medical profession is up in arms. The story comes amid concerns about the NHS sharing patient data with the Home Office. While a recent judicial review of that practice was knocked back, there is an open consultation on the public health implications
Migrants strike at Mail
Enough being nice to the Mail. Politics.co.uk reports that the all-migrant cleaning force at the paper’s London offices is going on strike for better pay.
Most outlets — see eg BBC and Guardian led on the “Brexodus” angle on yesterday’s immigration statistics (a few tidbits from me are in this post). The Telegraph quotes an economist making the point (correct in my view) that the improving eurozone economy is playing a role in the increased numbers of EU citizens leaving Britain.
The Home Office is keen to play up the number of resettled refugees that was also confirmed in Thursday’s data release — the Mirror is among the outlets to oblige, noting that “Britain is halfway to target to bring 20,000 Syrians to the UK by 2020”.
Yarl’s Wood hunger strike
The Independent has an exclusive report from the infamous Yarl’s Wood, where over 100 women detained at the immigration removal centre say that “inhumane conditions” have driven them to hunger strike. Diane Abbott is visiting today.