This is MRN’s official response to the Home Office:
The statement from Kevin Foster, minister for future borders and immigration, in your article (Skilled Commonwealth migrants still facing ‘unlawful’ deportation, 26 January) shows that the Home Office is worryingly out of touch with the realities faced by those denied leave to remain in the UK on the basis of historical tax discrepancies.
The statement demonstrates a failure of government to allow these Commonwealth citizens to be treated with dignity and fairness while in the UK. Around 60% of self-employment tax returns by British citizens contain discrepancies. And yet here is another group of Commonwealth migrants, people of colour, who, having been welcomed to the UK to take up key employment, have since been criminalised and disproportionately punished for tax discrepancies. The weaponisation of paperwork – just as in Windrush cases – is evident here also. Tax return discrepancies, many of them minor, are not a criminal offence. Four in five of the tax returns in question were the applicants’ first UK tax returns, and many still have not had the opportunity to explain the discrepancies.
Foster’s assertion that those waiting (in some cases for many years) for a resolution of their case “are not destitute” is also starkly at odds with reality. More than half of these migrants are forbidden from working and denied access to health services and public funding, including benefits, with many in significant debt from legal bills. As a result, 48% now say that they are destitute or homeless and unable to purchase basic necessities like food for their children. We urge the Home Office to provide some emergency relief at the earliest opportunity and to review the outstanding cases urgently in a fair and proportionate way.
Chair, Migrants’ Rights Network