Immigration – UK Government assessment
The implementation of ‘hostile environment’ immigration policies marked a reduction in human rights protections and court cases have found failures of protection. Reductions in immigration detention are positive, but rates remain significant and there is still no legal limit on the length of detention. The Nationality and Borders Bill, if implemented, poses risks to human rights and could have disproportionate impacts on people sharing protected characteristics.
- The ‘hostile environment’ or ‘compliant environment’ policy agenda – intended to make it harder for migrants with irregular status to live, work and access services in the UK – is ongoing, and has received widespread criticism for its negative impact on human rights.
- Our assessment found that the Home Office did not comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty in understanding the impact of ‘hostile environment’ policies on Black members of the Windrush generation. The Home Office entered a legal agreement with us to improve its practices.
- The Windrush Lessons Learned Review highlighted that individuals lawfully in the UK lost their jobs and homes, and some faced detention and deportation. The Home Office accepted these findings and outlined action in response.
- Our research indicates that NHS healthcare charging in England and data sharing for immigration enforcement deter migrants from accessing healthcare.
- In May 2020, the High Court ruled that the Home Office failed to ensure that imposing a ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition on the parent of a British child seeking leave to remain in the UK would not result in inhuman treatment.
- In May 2021, the UN Refugee Agency expressed concerns that elements of the New Plan for Immigration would negatively affect the protection of people seeking asylum. We have also highlighted that provisions in the Nationality and Borders Bill might particularly affect people sharing protected characteristics and that the UK Government should take steps in response.
- Figures on people entering immigration detention have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, though there has been a decreasing trend since 2015.
- In the year to March 2021, less than a quarter of people leaving detention were returned to another country, suggesting detention is not consistently used only in cases where there is a realistic prospect of removal.
- In 2020, the UK Government rejected legislative amendments introducing a statutory time limit on detention.
- Though the number of children detained has decreased in recent years, 28 children entered detention in the year ending March 2021.
- Independent reviews have highlighted the detention of people who are disabled, pregnant or transgender, or who have survived torture, trafficking or modern slavery. The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture has raised concerns about conditions in immigration detention.
- In June 2021, the High Court ruled that conditions at Napier Barracks, used to house people seeking asylum, were inadequate for their health needs and that the Home Office did not have an effective system to ensure that people at heightened risk of vulnerability were not accommodated there.
- Deportations and removals continued during the pandemic, contrary to UN advice. Resettlement programmes were temporarily suspended.
- Over 5.8 million EU Settlement Scheme applications were concluded as of 30 September 2021, though research indicates some long processing times.
- In February 2021, the Court of Appeal ruled that the £1,012 citizenship fee for children was unlawful because the Home Office failed to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when setting the fee.
Read more about the UK Government’s actions on immigration.