Today, it has been revealed that Mr Justice Cranston sitting in the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, has ruled that the UK Government must arrange for a Nigerian mother and her son to return to the UK after being deported. The UK Home Office made the decision to deport the Nigerian woman despite her poor mental health and regardless of the risk that both she and her son would end up destitute on the streets and at risk of prostitution, child labour or trafficking. Mr Cranston’s reasoning for reversing the UK Home Office’s decision is simply because he believes that the decision was “flawed” and wants the UK Government to arrange for them to come back to the UK by today (23 April 2015).
Refugee Council: Need a Balance Between Immigration Control & Best Interest of Children
The unnamed Nigerian women (only know as “BF”) entered the UK in 1991 with no immigration status and had been in the UK until her deportation at the end of January 2015. BF had her son ( referred to as “RA”) in 2009. BF claimed asylum in 2010 out of fear that upon return to Nigeria she along with her son would be persecuted. BF’s asylum claim was refused in the same year and the appeals process continued until January of this year when it was ruled that both BF and RA would be deported to Nigeria.
Mr Justice Cranston’s ruling was made on the fact that he believes that the UK Home Office had not taken into account the best interests and the welfare of the child. Many asylum campaigners and children’s charities have agreed with the Upper Tribunal ruling. Judith Dennis, policy manager for the Refugee Council commented on the possibly rule changing immigration decision:
“This case is important because it highlights the need for a clear, transparent policy [concerning] children and their rights when it comes to asylum. We have this rhetoric about deportation and people being able to appeal from outside the country, but what this ruling says is that you need to balance the need for immigration control against the best interests of the child. I don’t think the Home Office even has a proper mechanism for doing that at the moment and that’s what we need – a clear transparent policy that can be worked to when it comes to children.”
However, the UK Home Office have now been given the right to appeal the Upper Tribunals decision at the Court of Appeal. Therefore, it is yet to be revealed whether BF and RA will be back on a plane to the UK on Thursday 23 April 2015.
Home Secretary’s “deport first, appeal later” Policy Failing Migrants
The Upper Tribunal’s decision has also brought up many questions against the Home Secretary Theresa May’s “deport first, appeal later” policy. In 2013 at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Home Secretary Theresa May stated that the immigration system was “like a never ending game of snakes and ladders with almost 70,000 appeals heard every year.” Theresa May explained that in 2012, human rights were cited in almost 10,000 immigration case appeals. Therefore, she wanted to change the immigration system in which she felt that migrants were taking advantage of. May’s solution was that the appeal of thousands facing deportation should only be heard after they have been put on a plane home unless they face “a risk of irreversible harm.”
In 2014, the Home Secretary’s plan came into fruition under Section 17 of the Immigration Act 2014. It should be noted that Theresa May’s “deport first, appeal later” policy was put into place to deport foreign criminals who she believed were abusing the appeal process in the UK to delay their removal from the UK. To be fair to the Home Secretary it is a fair reason and the policy is being implemented in the best interest of the UK public. However, the policy is clearly flawed and without consideration of individual circumstances. Although BF had been in the UK illegally she suffered from mental health problems and the stress of going through the UK immigration appeal process resulted in her being admitted into a psychiatric unit with depression and her son put into foster care. It seems that the UK Home Office have completely failed the well being of both mother and child by carelessly placing them on a plane back to Nigeria. After the ruling of the Upper Tribunal there is hope that the UK Home Office will reevaluate the appeal process and consider immigration cases individually as opposed to making decisions on appeals as if they are on a conveyor belt and throwing them out altogether.
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