Read

User menu

Search form

After Surviving London's Grenfell Tower Disaster, Immigrants May Face Deportation

After Surviving London's Grenfell Tower Disaster, Immigrants May Face Deportation
Mon, 2/12/2018 - by Charlotte Dingle

A number of survivors from London's Grenfell Tower tragedy last June, which saw at least 71 people die in a tower block blaze caused by poor fire safety measures, may now face deportation after the deadline for applying for an immigration “amnesty” passed on Jan. 31. There is also a risk that family members might be investigated and deported.

Undocumented migrants living in Grenfell Tower were offered an amnesty period of a year, provided they applied before this deadline. Critics say the deadline was inadequately publicized and that the process risks hampering the forthcoming inquiry into the fire by potentially discouraging and preventing residents from giving evidence.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced in Parliament just after the fire that she would not use the tragedy as a way to clamp down on residents’ immigration status. She then performed a U-turn and undocumented immigrants were promised only the year-long amnesty.

“The Justice4Grenfell campaign is outraged that survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire who have core participation status in the upcoming public inquiry could face the possibility of deportation,” said a spokesperson for the campaign, which developed immediately after the fire tragedy.

“Immediately after the disaster Theresa May said no one should feel scared about coming forward. Then Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis announced a pitiful one-year amnesty for undocumented migrants living in the tower. Now he has said survivors can apply for permanent residence, but only after a five-year period of regular observation by the state.”

Justice4Grenfell campaigners are deeply concerned about May’s inability to stick to her promises and the impact of her decision on the inquiry. They say residents who manage not to be deported will still be afraid of being identified and may decide to stay silent.

“This constant shifting of the immigration policy has meant that people will not come forward with crucial information for the public inquiry and the criminal investigation. Relatives who were granted visas in the aftermath of the fire now face the possibility of their visas expiring," the spokesperson added.

"Yet in some cases, it has taken over four months for remains to be released and funerals to take place. This could mean that families will have to leave the U.K. before any substantive hearings at inquests or the public inquiry, and before any completion of the police investigation and criminal proceedings.”

According to Dr. Nando Sigona, deputy director at the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Research into Superdiversity, “The so-called ‘amnesty’ for undocumented residents was not something the government conceded without sustained pressure from community groups and activists, and it came with two big caveats: A deadline for applying that just expired and a 12-month sell-by date.

“This means that even those who benefitted from it are now just a few months away from fearing deportation."

Sigona says the situation is symptomatic of the government’s “single-minded obsession” with immigration, even in the wake of a tragedy like Grenfell. “To me the greatest obstacle to people coming forward was the limited duration of the amnesty," Sigona told Occupy.com. "Those who applied and came forward are now especially vulnerable as their names and whereabouts are known to the authorities.”

Responding to criticism of the immigration crackdown on Grenfell residents, Britain's Home Office said: “The welfare of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire is a top priority for this government. That is why we introduced a policy to encourage people who may have feared enforcement action to come forward and access the support they need. If anyone were to come forward after the deadline, we would still consider them for leave outside of the immigration rules as an exceptional case.”

The Home Office insists that the amnesty deadline was sufficiently publicized, stating, “Our policy has been promoted online and by teams and stakeholders on the ground and has also received extensive media coverage.” But there is no evidence that residents were sent any written correspondence, meaning that many people without internet access, or who did not encounter Home Office representatives “on the ground”, may have been unaware of the deadline.

The Labour party has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the government’s plans. Labour MP Diane Abbott wrote a letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in which she pointed out that many of the survivors “have been granted core participant status for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, however it appears that arrangements have not been made to secure their stay in relation to it”. She ended the letter by asking that Grenfell survivors and their families receive “indefinite leave to remain on a discretionary basis”. Rudd has yet to respond to Abbott’s letter.

With many survivors’ visas due to run out in the next few weeks, time is short for politicians and campaigners to reverse the government’s decision and halt the deportations. To many, the government's agenda seems clear: Not only is the move symptomatic of a wider attempt to push immigrants out of the U.K., but it risks severely compromising a fair inquiry into a serious incident at a time when the U.K. government's credibility is already on the line.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy, which occurred in a council-run tower block, affected people on low incomes as well as those with uncertain immigration status. For many observers, May’s government is showing once again how overtly and shamelessly it is capable of robbing the underdog of a voice.

 

 

Sign Up

Article Tabs

A special episode dedicated to the most militarized land in the world—one that you may not even have ever heard of.

Restoring Internet Freedom Order, FCC rules, net neutrality, Internet freedom, fast line, Big Telecom, telecommunications industry, Ajit Pai

Access matters, and unequal access can have onerous consequences for those who can’t afford the fast lane.

Brexit, Brexit opposition, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, no-deal Brexit

“This historic defeat will show that the government is deadlocked – and we now need to throw this back to the people and give them a final say," said Paul Butters of Best for Britain.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

A special episode dedicated to the most militarized land in the world—one that you may not even have ever heard of.

Global investors managing $32tn are urging governments to phase out all coal burning. Photograph: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Global investors managing $32 trillion issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday, demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning.

Restoring Internet Freedom Order, FCC rules, net neutrality, Internet freedom, fast line, Big Telecom, telecommunications industry, Ajit Pai

Access matters, and unequal access can have onerous consequences for those who can’t afford the fast lane.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Medioimages/Photodisc/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

By doing away with single-family zoning, the city takes on high rent, long commutes, and racism in real estate in one fell swoop.

Brexit, Brexit opposition, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, no-deal Brexit

“This historic defeat will show that the government is deadlocked – and we now need to throw this back to the people and give them a final say," said Paul Butters of Best for Britain.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago
Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago
Minds, anti-Facebook, crypto social network, surveillance programs, social media addiction

Now is the time to defend the remnants of the Information Revolution. Take off the corporate gag, close the social media surveillance blinds, and shift.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago
Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP, Wisconsin protests

Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is also trying to disempower the state’s newly-elected Democratic governor.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago
rising emissions, climate catastrophe, Global Carbon Project, climate impacts, carbon emissions, carbon cuts

According to a new Global Carbon Project report, emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts that are urgently needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Posted 3 days 6 hours ago
rising inequality, income inequality, global wealth, costs of inequality

Americans pay a steep price for not spreading their wealth around as well as other developed countries.

Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP, Wisconsin protests

Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is also trying to disempower the state’s newly-elected Democratic governor.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Medioimages/Photodisc/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

By doing away with single-family zoning, the city takes on high rent, long commutes, and racism in real estate in one fell swoop.

rising emissions, climate catastrophe, Global Carbon Project, climate impacts, carbon emissions, carbon cuts

According to a new Global Carbon Project report, emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts that are urgently needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Protesters on Sunday in Katowice, which is hosting the UN climate conference. Photograph: Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium/Barcroft Images

The move shocked delegates at a UN conference in Poland as ministers flew in for the final week of climate talks.