Dwelling Workplace: new deportation legislation could discriminate towards ethnic minorities | UK information

The Home Office has admitted that a new immigration rule to criminalize and deport rough sleepers may discriminate against ethnic minorities, including Asian women who have survived domestic violence.

An internal document sets out the department’s analysis of how the new power – which caused widespread outrage when it came into force four months ago – would also indirectly affect groups at risk, including people with disabilities.

The eight-page equality impact assessment received from Liberty Investigates accepts the potential of the rule to indirectly discriminate on the basis of race, as some factors that lead to homelessness disproportionately affect people of certain ethnicities. “The main reason Asian women are homeless is domestic violence,” the review said.

Pragna Patel, director of the Southall Black Sisters campaign group, said the document released under the Freedom of Information Act showed a callous attitude to migrants made homeless by domestic violence.

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel listed the government’s domestic violence law among a number of measures she took to keep women safe following the murder of Sarah Everard.

“In the same breath they say that we are going to introduce this measure against rough sleeping because we know that it affects victims of domestic violence,” said Pragna Patel.

The document also accepts that rough sleepers with disabilities “may experience a greater disadvantage” when deported to countries with poor access to support services.

Disability affects a large part of the homeless population. The Home Office’s Impact Assessment takes into account Scottish figures, which show that more than half of those seeking help with homelessness also need assistance for one or more of a range of conditions including mental health problems, substance addiction or learning disabilities.

It is said that the new immigration rule does not unlawfully discriminate. The disclosure comes a few days after the Home Office signed a legal agreement with the Equal Opportunities Officer finding the department failed to assess the impact of its hostile environmental policies on the Windrush generation over the past year.

Chai Patel, Director of Legal Policies for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The Home Office is still up to date on discrimination on the basis of hostile environment. Both the Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission and the Independent Windrush Investigator await Priti Patel and her department asked them to investigate and root out racial and other discrimination based on their policies so as not to make it worse. “

The new immigration rule provides a rough place to sleep for denial or revocation of a person’s permit in the UK and threatened boycott by councils and charities when the Home Office changed immigration laws last December.

It has yet to be used, however, as immigrant staff have been instructed not to use it until the official guidance on their application has been published.

According to the report, the discretionary rule applies to “those who have chosen to decline the support offered and engage in antisocial behavior that harms others or society at large”.

The Ministry of Interior’s document concludes that any discrimination based on race, disability or any other protected characteristic is not direct and “not automatically illegal”.

The use of power could be justified by the “legitimate aim of protecting the public”.

The report adds that the immigration system “protects against discrimination” and enables department decision-makers to examine whether, for example, a person’s disability has contributed to their becoming homeless.

However, activists say the Home Office’s discretion is not an adequate safeguard for those in need of protection.

“The Home Office is widely believed to be institutionally racist,” said James Tullett, executive director of the Essex and London Refugee and Migrant Forum, which has launched a judicial review of the rule. “The idea that the Home Office act at its own discretion is more a guarantee of discrimination than protection.”

Among the cases where the Home Office has been criticized for handling deportation decisions affecting disabled people is Osime Brown, 22, with autism from Dudley, facing deportation to Jamaica. Brown was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for robbing a friend’s cell phone, a crime he denies and which automatically qualified him for deportation.

Brown left Jamaica when he was four and has no family or support. Friends say the deportation would be tantamount to a “death sentence”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The equality impact assessment states that this policy does not unlawfully discriminate. Decision-makers are rigorously trained to determine where mitigating factors such as disability or race may have played a role in an individual’s situation. Take this into account and offer them support. “

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