Friday, 25 August 2017

Grenfell: an excuse for biometrics

"The devastating fire which took place in the early hours of 14 June 2017 at Grenfell Tower in West London is a national tragedy. The Home Office will not use this as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those receiving support or providing vital information to identify victims or otherwise assist the authorities investigating the fire."

"However, we recognise that not all those directly affected may be in the UK lawfully and some may be concerned about their immigration status. Some may have valid leave which is about to expire in circumstances where there is no current basis under the Immigration Rules for it to be extended, or may have conditions attached to their existing leave that might hinder their access to the support they need."

"This policy covers leave granted outside the Immigration Rules to individuals directly affected by this tragedy. The leave granted will be temporary (for 12 months) and granted on an exceptional basis to allow those directly affected by the fire ... time to deal with the immediate aftermath of these terrible events, and to consider their future options. This is intended as a time-limited policy and any further leave sought on the expiry of leave granted under the policy will be considered in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force at the time."

Policy intention

"The policy allows those who have been directly affected by the fire to be granted a temporary period of lawful residence in the UK, or if they have valid leave, to have the no recourse to public funds condition lifted where the leave is currently subject to this, or if their existing leave to remain is due to expire within 12 months of the publication of this policy with no opportunity to extend that leave to switch to 12 months’ leave under this exceptional policy. This will give them a firm legal footing to ensure they can access ongoing support, including social assistance, local authority housing support or any welfare benefits they may be eligible for."

"The Government has already stated publicly that the Home Office will not use the tragedy as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those involved, and that all victims, irrespective of their immigration status, will be able to access the services they need. Public authorities (including local authorities and the NHS) are assisting those directly affected by the fire notwithstanding their immigration status. The Secretary of State has the power to grant leave on a discretionary basis outside the Immigration Rules under the Immigration Act 1971. Unless extended, this policy will remain in place until 31 August 2017."

Liberty comments: `At best this is compassion lite with a question mark over residents' futures - at worst a trap to pull people into the immigration system`.

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