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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matthew
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 20:48:09

    Dear Fiona,

    I have just read your fascinating article on ‘Living In The Shadows ‘When Brits Become Illegal?’ on Yahoo and was compelled to write. My view on the subject is very different from yours. In your article you talk about the increasing draconian legislation on immigration that has been introduced in recent years. I personally feel UK immigration law is too soft and is not properly enforced. We do not have enough Immigration Officers, we don’t have proper systems of control in place and we don’t deport the amount of people we should be deporting. The immigration legislation introduced by Teresa May is a step in the right direction. In an ideal world landlords and NHS should not have to check peoples immigration status but the situation has got so out of control something has to be done. The UK government has no idea how many illegal immigrants there are living in this country. I don’t think they are counting who’s coming in and who’s going out and their administrative systems appear to be inadequate.

    The cases you quote in your article are interesting ones. IN regards to the chap who came over from Ceylon 50 years ago surely it is his responsibility to make sure his documentation is up to date. His documentation must have expired decades ago. Why didn’t he do something about it earlier? The individual must take responsibility. Why should employers or the state be sympathetic all the time. Its the same with people who lose their papers. Why aren’t they contacting the relevant authorities as soon as they realise they have lost their papers instead of only dealing with it when they experience a problem.

    The cases you raise are basically down to individuals not taking responsibility for keeping their paperwork in order or poor government administrative systems in place.

    I welcome your comments.



  2. fionabawdon
    Oct 24, 2014 @ 06:49:37

    Hello, Matthew

    Thank you for getting in touch.

    The issue for the likes of Lasith (arrived from Ceylon 50 years ago), and Aubrey (Jamaica, 40 years ago) isn’t so much that they didn’t keep their documents up to date – indefinite leave to remain/enter, by definition, doesn’t expire – it’s that the UKBA (as was, and its predecessors) is so shambolic that it can’t find any record of them.

    This then leaves them in status limbo. They aren’t illegal – but can’t prove their legality either, which – with the changes in legislation – means that employment/benefits/rented housing, etc are now denied them.

    To resolve the situation, they have to reapply (an expensive process, particularly if they are out of work and unable to claim benefits by that stage, even though they may have paid tax all their working lives), which means proving they have been in the UK for every single one of those 40 or 50 years (if you were granted ILR but were then out of the UK for over two years, you lose your status, so you need to prove unbroken residence). As you would imagine, this is a complicated and difficult process (it means people tracking down primary school records, when they were first registered with a GP here by their parents, confirmation from all of their employers going back decades, etc, etc). There is very little guidance given to people about exactly what is required, so applicants often get it wrong and don’t send in enough documentation (many are still in a state of disbelief that they are having to prove something they think is completely self-evident), which also prolongs the process and means applications are rejected.

    As you may be aware, legal aid was withdrawn for immigration cases last year, so people can’t generally get any expert advice on what they need to do.

    I suppose this situation is slightly akin to if you couldn’t find your driving licence (assuming you can drive, obviously…) and when you reapplied to the DVLA they just insisted they had never heard of you, and you would have to prove you had been driving all those years, plus take the test all over again. (I am not sure this is a brilliant parallel, but the best I can come up with at this hour of the morning.)

    If you haven’t already, have a look at the full report, which gives more details

    Click to access small_chasing_status.pdf

    Or, I can send you a hard copy, if you would like.


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