The Law Centres Network has joined a call on government by over twenty migrant rights organisations to give all migrants in the UK leave to remain, in order to prevent their abuse and support public health efforts.
In a letter to the Prime Minister (available for download below), we outline the dangers for migrants in the UK whose status is uncertain. This could be because they are waiting on Home Office decisions in their immigration or asylum matters, because their asylum appliction has been refused or because they may be undocumented.
In the letter, drafted by the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, we ask the government to do the right thing at a time of national and international emergency. We argue that insecure immigration status would prevent migrants from accessing housing and healthcare, just at a time when we are all instructed to stay home and seek medical attention if needed.
We believe that government should grant all migrants in the UK temporary leave to remain, thereby giving them definite status that would open up support options for them. This leave to remain should be renewable, to cover the entire period in which public health restrictions continue.
Granting migrants leave to remain would enable them to work legally and contribute their skills to the national effort against the pandemic. For the time being, it would also relieve the Home Office of the pressure of processing immigration applications at a time when social distancing makes it hard for applicants to access and present evidence or consult immigration advisers.
Being at the frontline of supporting people in need, Law Centres see the harmful effects of government policies on the most vulnerable. Between the Hostile Environment and No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) rules, they are left to fend for themselves even as the pandemic reminds us that their welfare is tightly bound to the welfare of society as a whole.
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, head of policy and profile at the Law Centres Network, said:
"The current public health crisis is a stark reminder to us all that 'no man is an island'. We must act on this knowledge now for a fuller, more inclusive recovery from the pandemic. Let us fight individual hardship with solidarity and take this simple step to bring everyone in."
In the media:
Read our joint letter: