“Compassionate” Home Office targets rough sleepers, again

Оver the past few months the Home Office seems to have entertained only the most inhumane immigration policies, such as offshore “asylum processing centres” mirroring Australia’s notorious Nauru detention centre, and using nets to clog the propellers of refugee boats crossing the Channel.

Now added to this list is a renewed focus on migrant rough sleepers. Buried in the 514-page statement of changes to the Immigration Rules that dropped last week is the revelation that the Home Office will again be targeting migrants who suffer the misfortune of sleeping on the streets.

The new rough sleeping rules

From 1 December 2020 Home Office caseworkers will, under Part 9 of the Rules (“Grounds for Refusal”), be able to refuse permission to stay or cancel any permission held by a person who has been rough sleeping:

9.21.1. Permission to stay may be refused where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK.

9.21.2. Where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK any permission held by the person may be cancelled.

Rough sleeping is defined elsewhere in the Rules as “sleeping, or bedding down, in the open air” or in “other places not designed for habitation”. It seems historic rough sleeping (“has been”) may fall under these provisions as well.

Fortunately these rules will not apply to very many people. Paragraph 9.1.1 excludes, for instance, asylum seekers and those who fall under the private life categories of the Rules (paragraphs 276ADE to 276DH) from the scope of Part 9. But however limited its scope, these changes make some very vulnerable people liable to enforcement action for circumstances they cannot help.

Posted on Oct 29, 2020.

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