Foreign rough-sleepers could be deported from the UK

By Federica Tedeschi

Published Jan 17, 2021 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

13678

“The Home Office has talked of becoming a more ‘fair, humane and compassionate’ department. Immediately scrapping this cruel rule on rough sleeping would be a good place to start.” This is how Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen has condemned powers within new immigration rules, which took effect on 1 December and establish that non-UK nationals who are rough sleeping could face deportation beginning 1 January, 2021.

According to Section 4 of the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, published by the Home Office in October, any permission held by someone to stay in the country may be cancelled where the decision-maker is satisfied that the specific person has been rough sleeping in the UK.

To make things even worse, such changes have been introduced amid the coronavirus pandemic, as temperatures plunge towards zero and people are at greater risk of infection from the virus. Furthermore, the legislation has come into force even before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Soon after the publication of the official document on the government website, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged ministers to rethink their decision:  “The injustice and cruelty exhibited by the proposed new immigration laws is a chilling reminder of how the most vulnerable people in our society can be targeted when those in power don’t believe anyone will notice or care. It is not too late for the Government to act and show some compassion that is desperately needed in these difficult times.”

In a letter addressed to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Housing Minister Robert Jenrick and signed by 27 representatives of local authorities and London-based charities, Khan criticised the new legislation, which is likely to deter already vulnerable people from seeking help in rebuilding their lives.

Among the signatories to the letter, Crisis, Housing Justice and Migrants’ Rights Network, who pointed out that the measures taken so far this year by City Hall, charities and councils have resulted in very low COVID-19 infection rates among rough sleepers in the capital. Without additional measures that allow all those unable to self-isolate, including non-UK nationals, to access adequate support, COVID-19 infection rates among people without a roof over their head could soar and subsequently spread to the wider community.

Moreover, people who sleep rough have often been forced onto the streets to flee exploitation, and the new immigration law could prevent them from approaching the authorities for help. Unscrupulous bosses may even use the threat of potential deportation to further exploit workers. Meanwhile, those who were already homeless could feel pressured to accept unfair work just to avoid sleeping on the streets. In some cases, people end up on the street because of errors in the Home Office’s decision-making process.

The five key proposals contained in the letter to tackle the coming crisis include a request to suspend all immigration-based exclusions from welfare and homelessness assistance to adapt to these exceptional times, as well as extending the deadline to apply for settled status to prevent Europeans living in the UK from becoming undocumented. Also on the list, is a request to adequately fund self-contained, COVID-secure accommodation to protect those who are houseless.

Online campaigning organisation 38 Degrees is urging the general public to sign a number of petitions to defy the new law by making sure all main cities in the UK commit to not sharing sensitive personal data of rough sleepers with the Home Office to prevent deportations.

“Many people who moved to the UK have worked and raised families here, but when they fall on hard times their immigration status means they have ‘no recourse to public funds’ and are unable to access the support they need to keep a roof over their head,” reads the text of the petition.

So far nine London boroughs, including Islington, Lambeth and Newham, have decided to push back against the new rules.

Across the UK, there were over 4,600 people sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure was down 2 per cent from the  2017 peak, but it went up 165 per cent since 2010. The demographics suggest that 25 per cent were foreigners, 84 per cent were identified as male and 80 per cent of the total were over 26 years old.

This article has been published as part of an ongoing content partnership with FAIRPLANET.

Keep On Reading

By J'Nae Phillips

Why Harajuku fashion is making a comeback in both Gen Z culture and aesthetics

By Charlie Sawyer

Man shows off his father’s decapitated head in gruesome anti-Biden YouTube video

By Abby Amoakuh

UK cracks down on boycott protests with controversial new bill, but is the BDS movement to blame?

By Charlie Sawyer

Will the TikTok ban push Gen Z into the arms of Donald Trump?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Female students fear harassment after all-male committee form pro-life society in Manchester

By Abby Amoakuh

German woman receives harsher sentence than convicted rapist for calling him a pig over WhatsApp

By Charlie Sawyer

TikToker Leo Skepi faces backlash for fatphobic comments in now-deleted video

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Succession star Brian Cox says the Bible is one of the worst books ever

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Andrew Tate says MrBeast’s support of trans friend Kris Tyson is fake and a psyop

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK to criminalise deepfake pornography, regardless of creator’s intentions

By Charlie Sawyer

What is snarking? TikToker Lily Chapman reveals intense online harassment she’s experienced on Reddit

By Charlie Sawyer

Mystery girl behind Nigel Farage milkshake saga sparks online theories

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Inside the surge of juvenile crime in China: The role of left-behind children

By Abby Amoakuh

Dear millennials, you’re wrong for hating on Bluebella’s Strong is Beautiful campaign featuring Team GB rugby stars

By Abby Amoakuh

We spoke to two anti-abortion advocates to test them on their feminism

By Abby Amoakuh

Back to Black costume designer PC Williams spills the tea on We Are Lady Parts and Polite Society

By Abby Amoakuh

Videos circulate of CEO Sanjay Shah dying in freak accident in front of 700 people at company party

By Abby Amoakuh

Neuralink’s human implant success sparks fear for the future of society

By Charlie Sawyer

British Museum attempts Roman Empire TikTok trend, fails miserably and gets called sexist

By Charlie Sawyer

JoJo Siwa roasted for cringe TikTok where she thinks she’s singing in German