Sajid Javid urged to adopt 'new approach' to immigration by major charities

Exclusive: NGOs call on new home secretary to adopt wide-ranging measures to prevent another Windrush-style fiasco and reverse ‘inhumane and arbitrary’ policies introduced in recent years

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Monday 30 April 2018 18:33 BST
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In an open letter, charities urge new home secretary Sajid Javid to adopt an approach that treats people with 'compassion and fairness'
In an open letter, charities urge new home secretary Sajid Javid to adopt an approach that treats people with 'compassion and fairness' (Reuters)

Major charities have called on Sajid Javid to adopt a “new approach” to immigration, urging for wide-ranging measures to prevent another Windrush-style fiasco and reverse “inhumane and arbitrary” policies introduced in recent years.

In an open letter to the newly appointed home secretary, more than 20 NGOs supporting refugees and migrants in the UK said they hoped Mr Javid’s previous comments in support of those caught up in the Windrush scandal would “translate into solid action”.

The group of charities, which includes the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, urged the home secretary to adopt an approach that treats people with “compassion and fairness”, highlighting that the status of the Windrush generation was “not an isolated problem”.

They call for an independent inquiry into the “hostile environment” policy, arguing that this is what led to the fiasco, and assurances for EU citizens living in Britain that they will not face their own Windrush scandal in years to come.

The letter goes further to demand a 28-day time limit on immigration detention, where people are currently locked up for long periods that can extend to several years, and calls for community-based alternatives that support people to conclude their cases outside detention.

It also argues that people seeking asylum in Britain should be met with a “fair and effective” decision-making process, including access to legal advice and independent information, and a review of the “increasingly unaffordable” fees for those applying for UK status.

“The reputation of the Home Office has been damaged by policies which are seen as unfair, inhumane and arbitrary. This was most clearly seen during the last three weeks over the Windrush scandal,” the letter states.

“We welcome the comments made by the new secretary of state in his Sunday Telegraph interview and we hope that they will translate into solid action now he is in post to right the past wrongs of his new department.”

Amnesty International UK has made a separate appeal to Mr Javid, calling on him to ensure Commonwealth citizens receive their British citizenship quickly and prioritise reforming this country’s “restrictive refugee family reunion policy”, as well as ending indefinite immigration detention.

Kate Allen, the charity’s UK’s director, said: “Windrush exposed just how damaging the UK’s policies have been to individuals living in this country. The new home secretary must now ensure that Commonwealth citizens receive their British citizenship quickly and that other people are not subjected to similar treatment.

“We also urge Mr Javid to prioritise reforming this country’s restrictive refugee family reunion policy, drop the deeply unfair immigration exemption in the Data Protection Bill, and stop the routine use of indefinite immigration detention."

Mr Javid takes on the role as home secretary after Amber Rudd resigned amid increasing pressure over the way the Home Office handled immigration policy. Her resignation came after leaked documents undermined her claims she was unaware of the deportation targets her officers were using.

Mr Javid vowed to make sure people caught up in the Windrush fiasco are treated with “decency and fairness” as he arrived at the Home Office to take up his new job.

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