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Government accused of rushing immigration reforms

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(14 May 2021)

Immigration lawyers have criticised the government’s ‘rushed’ process to push through controversial immigration reforms after legislation was announced in the Queen’s speech – days after a controversial consultation closed.

The Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration consultation closed last Thursday. This week, the government announced that measures would be brought forward ‘to establish a fairer immigration system that strengthens the United Kingdom’s borders and deters criminals who facilitate dangerous and illegal journeys’. Details of ‘New Plan for Immigration Legislation’ appeared in briefing notes accompanying the Queen’s speech.

The notes do not mention proposals mooted by the Home Office to extend fixed recoverable costs to immigration judicial reviews or encourage judges to make wasted costs orders. However, the document mentions a ‘new and expanded “one-stop process” to ensure that asylum, human rights claims and any other protection claims are made and considered upfront at the very start of the process, ending the cycle of limitless appeals’.

In its submission to the Home Office consultation, the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) said the proposals failed to take into account the variety of well-known reasons why an individual cannot always comply with a one-stop process. For instance, the individual may have previously received poor legal advice or find it difficult to disclose their experiences. The Law Society, in its consultation response, said delays often arose from a change in circumstances or more evidence coming to light, rather than deliberately last-minute claims or withholding information.

Commenting on the Queen’s speech, ILPA said: ‘We understand that some consultation meetings are still taking place this week, as the Home Office belatedly sought to include people with lived experience of the asylum system. The fact is that this process has been rushed, with very little by way of supporting evidence of the issues the Home Office claims exist in the system, or that the proposals would achieve the stated policy objective. If the government is genuine about its stated desire to take into account the views of stakeholders, then we would expect to see evidence of this happening. There is none.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)