The dismal UK Home Office response to coronavirus: the wider picture

"We've learned that closeness does not mean contact, so I hope that this can count as a Letter from Afar even if afar seems a strangely 19th-century way of talking about the distance between Newport and Bristol. I wanted to share with you some of my reflections on the UK Home Offices response to coronavirus and what it means for migrants and asylum seekers.

Let me start with recognition of the fact that basic steps to reduce immediate contagion risk were quietly implemented in mid-March – such as suspension of immigration bail reporting and cancellation of asylum interviews. This may have been because the hand of the Home Office was forced by social distancing guidelines from other government departments. But where the Home Office response has been seriously deficient is in its chaotic communications, failure to protect migrant lives, failure to protect families and questionable legal competence.

Adrian Berry from the Immigration Law Practitioner’ Association and I gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee about these failings. But I want to step back from the immediate Home Office failings here and think about the broader context. There are important features of the immigration system that could inform a considered, strategic and effective government response. If there was to be such a thing."

The dismal UK Home Office response to coronavirus: the wider picture (Migration Mobilities Bristol, link)


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