Sorry is Not Enough -Compensation is A start Change is a Must

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Category : Customer Service

SOMETIMES SORRY IS NOT ENOUGH:-

COMPENSATION IS A START BUT CHANGE IS A MUST

Sometimes an apology is simply not enough. There are thousands of people effected by adverse unreasonable Home Office decisions and policies. It has now come to light that in 2010 , the Home Office actually destroyed the Landing Cards of many of the Migrants that came from the Caribbean in 1940s. The Landing Card recorded the names of the passenger, date of birth, country of departure and details of dependent children arriving in the United Kingdom. This Landing Card was obviously an all round important document and the decision to destroy it , alongside many other adverse changes in the Immigration Rules were made under David Camerons leadership in his bid to reduce immigration figures. However, the Conservative Government in its haste to make it difficult for illegal migrants, failed to adequately involve and consult experts or the diaspora communities at its heart. Neither did they consider the basic fact that not all Undocumented Migrants are Illegal migrants.

In 2010 there was a bid by the Tory Party to reduce illegal immigration and make it difficult for undocumented migrants to live and work in the UK. There was also drastic change in the Law to make it easier to remove foreign criminals from the United Kingdom at the conclusion of their sentences. This was because many convicts were using their Rights to Private Family Life Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights to challenge decisions to remove them. At the time Theresa May was the Secretary of State for the Home Department, she had felt embarrassment after the delayed deportation of Abu Hamzah. Mrs May vowed to change things to make it easier to deport nationals and ensured anyone sentenced to more that 12 months faced automatic deportation. Mrs May had also been criticised for what were considered high migration figures and was trying to respond to the rise of ill feeling from the public about the growth in Migration. There Governments record keeping by the UK Boarder and Immigration Agency was exposed as woeful. It became apparent that records of numbers entering the UK were being maintained but not of those leaving.Therefore overstayers from student and visiting visas were clearly not being monitored. Officially the number of illegal migrants.

The official unlawful population in the UK in my personal experience is at least 2 million, made up of overtayers illegal entrants and those who are not aware of their status and do not know they are without status for example children. Migration watch quoted that ‘a former Head of Immigration Enforcement, David Wood, and a former speechwriter to the then Home Secretary (Theresa May) Alisdair Palmer claimed that the Home Office were of the opinion that each year as many as 150,000-250,000 foreign nationals fail to return home when they should or enter illegally, thus adding still further to the illegal migrant population. Up to 82% of people wanted to see stronger enforcement efforts. Plus migration figures did officially increase due to the increase in workers from the European Union and expansion of EU accession countries. At the time migrants were being blamed for the lack of jobs in the UK economy and stagnation of wages. This ill feeling grew and gave rise to the growth of UKIP and other Right Wing groups. David Cameron felt pressure to quell the shift of potential Tory voters further to these right wing factions and had to be seen to be driving down immigration.

As Theresa May was the SSHD , head of the Home Office at this time, some say the responsibility for this atrocious treatment of Windrush Generation British citizens falls squarely at her feet. The new revelation that the the Home Office ‘destroyed the Landing Cards of migrants’ from the Windrush generation may be shocking for some, but not a real surprise for experienced Immigration Lawyers that have first hand experience of Home Office Blunders. Applicants documents are lost and in the past there have been allegations of corruption. Mat Hancock, the Culture Secretary confirmed the Home Office made this decision to destroy the Landing cards was ‘for Data Protection’. Such an erroneous decision must have been made by a Senior figures which in itself calls into question competency of those working at the Home Office. It is unclear why such important items were not scanned. One can conclude from the information that this decision to destroy such key documents was wither a Mistake, Negligence as the decision maker did not appreciate the consequence or Deliberate – either way it was negligent possibly Malfeasance.

Another excuse that was mentioned by the Culture Secretary was that UK Immigration and Boarders Agency was not part of the Home Office and within the Governments effort to improve and gain control of UKBA , the Home Office took over control of administration of UKBA including, old files, clearly destroyed documents and even brought in contractors (many were not experts in immigration). The Government also went further by reforming Immigration Law and repealing many of the routes to settlement that were available for undocumented migrants and their children. This was also coupled with increased fees and notifications to third parties . Many of these notifications were erroneous for example some sent to the DVLA notifying them that individual has no right to be in the country, access NHS treatment or Benefits. 

People reading and that have never had to deal with the Home Office may find it hard to understand why so many migrants did not sort themselves out after being here for so many years , in some cases Centuries. However people need to understand that the Windrush migrants were told they were British. Many other undocumented migrants became vulnerable, fell out with family and became isolated lacked the means and resources to secure their status. Others were unfortunately misinformed about 2012 there was a major change to the Immigration Rules and many migrants were unaware. There was not much publicity and many did not know the requirements and need to urgently secure documentation to confirm their status. Undocumented migrants still have series of barriers to proving their status. Many first had to deal with disbelief, then shock, loss of employment, embarrassment, stress, financial stress barrier to accessing benefits and on top of all of that find and afford an experienced Lawyer able to make representations to the Home Office. Also afford to bring a claim against the Home Office for Errors.

Due to the reduction in Legal Aid and the fact that ‘Settlement’ within Legal Aid immigration is not within the funding scope in other words it is not covered. This meant most migrants facing challenges had to pay for Expert Immigration Advice if they were not claiming Asylum or Humanitarian Protection under the Human Rights Act. This left many migrants vulnerable and caused a growth in opportunists who pretended to be solicitors and experienced advisers and unfortunately many ran off with people money and even worse with peoples documents. In addition due to the historic nature of the cases many applicants had a lack of documentation due to moving, passage of time and the assertion that they were already British or at least presumed they would be recognised as settled having lived and contributed to their communities. It is hard to explain to people that have been in the United kingdom for centuries, with National Insurance numbers, children and grand children that they were not considered British, settled and that they were even being asked to leave the United Kingdom. The factual history of many cases meant parents or people that initially brought them into the UK were no longer here. There were also missing documents (which we now know some of which were destroyed), changes at the Home Office and delays in assisting. There was even difficulty in obtaining Subject Access from the Home Office (copy of the individual Home Office file). Subject Access was also restricted, it costs 10 GBP and you need to have photographic identification or the form needed to be signed by a solicitor that knew you.

Unfortunately, the conservative government went even further and the real knife that cut away rights and access to fair treatment for undocumented migrants was in 2014, when government removed protective legislation that was available under the Immigration Rules for those who came during the 1960s and 70. The rules also adversely effected illegal immigrants that had been in the UK for more than 10 years , young adults under 25 unless they had spent half of their life in the UK and children even those here for over 7 years would need to be removed unless they could show barriers to reintegration in their countries of origin. In addition the fees were dramatically increased and fees were also put in appeals. The Government did not do a detailed assessment on the impact of these massive immigration policy changes on the the ethnic communities that would be most affected. Many NGOs and Lawyers like myself did report concerns at the adverse effects these changes would have. These concerns that were expressed clearly fell on deaf ears. The Home Office closed an organisation that advised people facing problems called ‘Choices’ and it funded its own hand selected Community Representatives and Leads and also put money into Voluntary return schemes. The Voluntary Return Schemes unlike Choices did not give advice to migrants. The Government were more concerned about removing people than the adverse impact immigration policy was having.

The fact is these changes in immigration policy meant many people could not afford to challenge decisions as the burden of proof in Immigration is on the applicant. This balance of the legal burden was not shifted despite the fact that the Home Office knew, especially in the case of the Windrush applicants, that they had destroyed the evidence that these people needed to win their cases. When you cannot prove your entitlement to an immigration status you can be served with an IS96 document and notice requiring you to live at an address and report to an Immigration Officer. If you feel you are being treated unfairly or it is wrong you can complain, send a Letter Before Action and follow Protocol before applying to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the unfair decision – within 3 months of it being made. However this is expensive and can cost thousands of pounds and if you happen to be detained at the time or not able to work it means you may not have the means to make this challenge. If you give in the most you can try to do is make an application to regularise your status £1033 PLUS an NHS surcharge fee of £500. Alternatively they can apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) which is £2,297 but if you do not meet the set criteria discretion can be applied however you will need to show exceptional circumstances and it again is not guaranteed. AND if these applications are refused you can appeal with a fee of £140 to an Immigration Judge. The Judge will look at what was submitted with the application and usually will not look at new material. All of the fees apply equally to children. There are fee waivers available for the homeless and vulnerable but it must be stressed that the waivers are not automatic and are sometime refused.

This means many people cannot afford help and simply give up especially after being detained. Condition’s in detention are deplorable. Many have died trying to prevent themselves from being deported and sadly some of those that died due to excessive force were actually being deported in Error. The UK stopped detaining families in 2012 (children under 16years stopped 2013), but currently many people are still are wrongfully detained due to administrative errors , those with mental health and other issues treated badly. Detained applicants cannot make new bail applications for 28 days if one is refused. Cases are delayed for probation reports lack of Home Office Presenting officers lack of judges and even lack of court time. Applications should be processed within 6-8 weeks. But standard letters ask you not to contact then within 6 months. Some applications take over 18 months to consider. I have seen applications take over 4 years! During 2016 it was taking a year from an Appeal being lodged to getting an Appeal being heard. Currently it could take up to a year to also get a decision. So you can imagine after paying for an application and paying for an appeal you can be waiting for over 4 years through no fault of your own for justice and in that time not allowed to work.

It should be appreciated that children that went into care of the local authority or with parents that were not documented become easily disenfranchised from society. Many were excluded from accessing higher Education even when granted limited leave and discretionary to remain until Justice4Kids supported Beaurish Tigere. On 29 July 2015, the Supreme Court issued a judgment compelling student fiance to grant her and other young persons with discretionary fiance to access Higher Education. But many families cannot afford the high immigration application fees talk less of legal challenged. Many families with the new increased fee charges simply cannot not make applications to remain because it is beyond their reach. This is leading to many illegal status, becoming disenfranchised from society and also joining gangs and ISIS. The governments immigration policy has excluded so many from accessing resources in society and ultimately justice. Those students that are subject to immigration  control are of high risk of poverty and vulnerability, that can lead to challenging behaviour in school. Unfortunately once they are removed from main stream schooling or that fall into the care system, they can become targets of groomers for sexual exploitation and also gang activity. A recent case in the UK has sough to use Modern Day Slavery legislation to prosecute gang leaders who held vulnerable young people and made them sell drugs.

Often because of increased Enforcement and Immigration checks these young people and adults are moved out of London, held captive or made to work for pittance to survive. Others that get caught and arrested an sentenced to periods longer than 12 months face automatic Deportation (even when they have indefinite leave to remain). Initially it was held that Deportation Appeals could be heard once the individual had left /been removed from the United Kingdom. This meant you had to leave and appeal from your country of origin and for many the trauma, lack of facilities and ability to communicate with lawyers and cost made it impossible for them to have a fair hearing. Again things only changed when the Supreme Court recently overturned this so that most deportation appeal hearings where the Appellant has family life an exceptional circumstances, are now heard in country.

It should be noted that when the Government/home office looses at the Upper tribunal and upwards ie High Court, Court of Appeal , Supreme Court and European Court of Justice they have to pay costs. But, it is not in all cases they have to pay compensation this usually has to come under a separate civil claim for damages. The Home Office also has a Parliamentary Ombudsman Scheme and people are encouraged to apply to them for compensation but the whole compensation process is slow and needs to be dealt with diligently by an expert because of the assessment of liability causation and quantum.

The Brexit campaign further turned the Immigration into a dirty word. Immigration was labeled again for Britain’s poor Economic performance. Migrants blamed for lack of housing , lack of funding in the NHS and every other problems across the board. UKIP fulled the Migrant argument. The vote to leave the EU in 2016 made the government feel its hard stance on immigration was justified. Despite the loss of workers to the NHS , farming and across the service industry, the false narrative about immigration did not change. Government only wanted to be able to present reduced immigration figures to satisfy the public. If they had carried out a proper exercise of assessing the administrative, social welfare impact of these legislative changes they would have realised they were removing access to fair consideration to thousands of people. It is important to understand that the Government did consult lawyers and allegedly discussed with member of the Ethnic communities. However the Government did not listen to the advice from NGOs and Lawyers about the negative impact of the legislation. Neither did they take action despite having complaints from individuals, cases coming to the press of wrongful detentions or the wave of applicants or large number of appeals generated by adverse and unfair decisions. Some feel they did not have the case worker to deal with issues as they were dealing with the deluge of EEA settlement applications. Also it is clearly wrong for the Government to hand pick representatives from the Ethnic communities to discuss these hand picked individuals are not always objective or best experienced to advise them on adverse effects. The Government has announced a the launch of a Hot Line and are investigating close to 50 cases with more coming forward. The Home Secretary Amber Rudd also announced that there will be an Amnesty for victims of the Windrush fiasco but it is not enough as so many more Migrants are effected by adverse immigration policy and decisions. Further, the terms of this suggested Amnesty have not been spelt out.

The Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot is taking action and is holding meeting in the communities effected. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham gave a monumental speech in the House of Commons on the issue and failing of the home office calling for urgent action and leading to an apology from the current Home Secretary Amber Rudd. However the current Home secretary refused to confirm who gave the instructions to destroy the landing cards when asked, she has however promised urgent action. Dawn Butler Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities has been asking for assurance that there will be detailed consultation in the impact of government legislation on Ethnic Minorities going forward.

I have personally discussed with Ms Butler my concerns about Equality legislation post Brexit because of the cases that we have been presented with. Also historically complained to many members of Government and the home office about the unfair treatment of Migrants and established AFFIRM Human Rights referral service for those who need help. www.affirmhumanrights.org

As a result of the adverse changes to immigration legislation, thousands of people living here in United Kingdom here with Citizenship that has been revoked or threatened with deportation, Settled, Awaiting decisions and Appealing decisions have on occasion wrongly been stripped of their rights. These rights at times include their right to liberty, to work , access benefits and even to drive. Many others migrants suffered delay stress and Trauma. If you are affected by unfair delay, wrongful detention or adverse immigration policy, let Obaseki Solicitors help you. It is not just the Windrush Generation that have been effected by adverse Home Office decisions but many others. Our experts are able to:-

1.  Give Expert Immigration Advice and Representation

2.  Advise on Malfeasance, Negligence Wrongful Detention and Breach of Duty by Public Body or third party.

3. Bring claims for compensation for delay on applications/assessments, negligence/malfeasance, wrongful detention and inhumane treatment. If effected you should get resolve and ask for compensation. So many have suffered delays in Home Office decision making and should complain.

Everyone whether documented or not is entitled to fair treatment and if you or your family have been mistreated, disenfranchised and wrongly excluded from society and resources, we can help you get justice. The apology from the Home Secretary is important but does not cover losses or compensate for stress. It is very little very very late.

Everyone whether documented or not is entitled to fair treatment and if you or your family have been mistreated, disenfranchised and wrongly excluded from society and resources, we can help you get justice. The apology from the Home Secretary is important but does not cover losses or compensate for stress. It is very little very very late.  – If affected inbox me or email info@obasekisolicitors.com or call 02077397549 or 07956414488 www.obasekisolicitors.com

Copy-write©JenniferObaseki : Not to be used or disseminated without prior permission

www.obasekisolicitors.com

Not to be used or disseminated without prior permission

By Jennifer Ariowa Obaseki Copywrite©JenniferObaseki

Not to be used or disseminated without prior permission

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