Here’s your round-up of the immigration and asylum stories that made national headlines this week.
This is the last instalment of this round-up as a standalone article. As explained in the response to the Free Movement reader survey, these weekly posts are an attempt to meet demand for more general (as distinct from technical) immigration news and updates. But the readership to date does not justify the time it takes to put them together. Instead, from the week after next, the weekly newsletter will be expanded to include some of the past week’s immigration law and policy news — so make sure you are signed up.
Record number of trafficking victims
Monday saw the release of figures on people flagged up to the National Referral Mechanism as possible victims of trafficking. “The National Crime Agency said British nationals made up the highest number of cases for the first time, followed by people from Albania and Vietnam”, the BBC reports. The Telegraph leads on the role played by “inner city children being forced to sell drugs in the countryside”, while the Times (£) notes that “UK citizens made up the largest group among the nationalities reported to the National Referral Mechanism”.
Tuesday saw the release of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on the economics of EU migration. The Financial Times (£) points out the view of firms that European workers are “better qualified and more motivated than their UK counterparts”. The Mail top line is that “businesses in all sectors fear the loss of migrant workers after Brexit because they offer better skills at lower cost”. The Guardian notes the committee’s view on the threat to jobs and output if migration is cut.
Immigration waiting times
The Independent picks up on the rise in waiting times for immigration and asylum appeals to be heard at the First-tier Tribunal. “Families and individuals challenging refusals for them to stay in Britain waited on average 52 weeks for their appeals to be processed last year, compared with an average of 31 weeks in 2016”, May Bulman reports, relying on an official ministerial answer in Parliament. Colin is quoted in the piece, which also leans on Free Movement analysis of appeal success rates.
The Home Secretary’s appearance before the Home Affairs committee of MPs on Wednesday was widely covered. The Independent focused on the lack of a Cabinet position on future EU immigration rules, while the Mail and Reuters picked up on Rudd’s refusal to explicitly back the government’s long-standing net migration target. The Financial Times (£) notes that a White Paper and immigration bill seem further off than ever. Other outlets note the increase in border officers, although the Home Office disputes the exact size of the Brexit-related recruitment drive. Committee chair Yvette Cooper has issued a lengthy thread reflecting on the minister’s evidence.
Bolt from the blue
Five reports from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Bolt, were released all in one go by the Home Office yesterday. Most papers picked up on the data gaps in the exit checks system: “More than 600,000 foreigners overstaying visas may still be in UK as officials admit exit check lapses”, says the Sun. See also the Guardian, Times (£) and Mail. The FT (£), looking at the five documents in the round, simply notes criticism of the department “across a range of its immigration activities”. I’ve managed to write up two of them, on Right to Rent and refugee children.
Tax discrepancy refusal
The Pakistani parents of a four-year-old girl with autism have been refused indefinite leave to remain over some petty tax discrepancies, the Guardian reports. It looks to be another case of the type described by Nath in a recent post — that time the victim was an NHS doctor, but the legal issues look to be the same.
Visa quota complaints
BBC Breakfast looked at the issue of skilled non-EU workers being turned away due to the Tier 2 visa cap. Free Movement contributor Nichola Carter makes an appearance at around 1hr 54mins into the video, while Oxford migration expert Madeleine Sumption gets a bit more screen time about 49 mins in. Nichola has written a Free Movement article on the subject and Madeleine a helpful briefing.
That’s it from me — enjoy the bank holiday!