The government’s false promise of a 12-month immigration amnesty to people affected by the Grenfell Tower fire will leave undocumented survivors unable to access the care and support they urgently need, Liberty has warned.
The human rights charity highlights key problems with the policy, including:
- The 12-month amnesty is at best a feeble attempt at compassion – leaving undocumented survivors’ with a huge question mark over their futures – and at worst a trap to pull people into the immigration system.
- Though survivors will be able to access healthcare during those 12 months, their personal information may be shared with immigration control under NHS-Home Office data-sharing deals.
- Survivors will be excluded from the 12-month amnesty based on lax and broad exemptions, which will force some to choose between services and deportation.
- The Government is exploiting the situation to gather survivors’ data for use in future immigration control. They will only be entitled to the 12-month amnesty if they hand over their biometrics.
- Grenfell survivors awaiting an asylum decision will not be entitled to 12 months’ leave. As asylum support has faced devastating cuts, this means they will be left living on as little as £5 a day – with no right to work – having lost everything they own.
- Anyone refused leave will have no right to appeal – leaving them no way to challenge notoriously poor and unreliable Home Office decision making.
- The policy includes ominous redactions of vital information, including around information gathering and data recording.
Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, says:
“Theresa May promised the Government wouldn’t use this tragedy as a reason to carry out immigration checks. That’s exactly what they’re doing – and they’re dressing it up as an act of compassion.