Sunday, May 15, 2011

I see that you are doing research into attitudes of home office applicants.

I work informally to support asylum-seekers, including those who are refused and destitute. The suffering endured by applicants at all stages of the process is enormous, while they are told by the press and the public how lucky they are to be here and how grateful they must be. People feel anything but welcome, especially when housed by NASS in the most violent and deprived neighbourhoods. they feel that the system is dishonest and spiteful. I could give any number of examples of policies and decsions which appear to support this view.

You might be interested in the widespread perception among asylum applicants that the Government actually welcomes the presence of failed asylum-seekers as a way of propping up the economy by providing sub-minimum-wage labour. This was the only way they could make sense of the refused applicants not being removed from the UK.

People believe that there is no torture with electricity in this country, but instead torture by paper, with an endless bureaucratic process that leads nowhere.

One of my favourites was the "no-policy policy": applicants whose NASS support had failed (a very frequent occurance) would typically manage by borrowing from other applicants. Once their support had been restored, they would be advised to send a fax - at their own expense of course - requesting that any shortfall be made up. These requests were never repsonded to. Further enquiries eventually established that no decision could be made on amking such reimbursements until the Minister made a policy decsion, an of course it was a low priority................. the theory was that support was for subsistance only and as the applicant had evidently survived they had no subsistance need relating to the period - often several weeks - for which payment had been missed; repayment of money borrowed could not be budgeted for.

Another source of cynicism has been the Home Office's policy in the recent past of refusing ALL asylum claims unless they were incontroverible, and letting it be settled at appleal stage. Careful analysis of the stats for certain years shows intitial decisions on case other than minors running at around 97% refusal, with about 25-30% ultimately successful on appeal - in other words, nine out of ten claims that ultimately succeeded had been refused initially. Applicants are then of course commonly blamed for the costs of the legal process etc.

Then there's the real kick in the teeth - granted at appeal, but three weeks later a letter in incomprehensible legalese advising that the Home Office has counter-appealed, generally pointlessly.

You mentioned in some of your posts that "everyone" gets frustrated with the bureaucracy; I certainly believe that well-intentioned people at the Home Office get frustrated and burnt out, but can you really put yourself in the shoes of applicants? People whose lives are on hold for years and years, waiting for a decision? Many are those that say they would rather be removed than carry on like this, and yet even a voluntary return is not possible.

So all this may account for the "them and us" attitudes you seem surprised to have found. Of course, not everyone's experience of the immigration system is negative; there are the lucky ones, and then there are those who play the system, who are cynical from the outset and therefore not disappointed.

People on the Legacy section of this forum are generally people who have not been well served by the system, however you look at it - that is why the legacy exercise was required. so it is unsurprising you have been met with hostility and bitterness. One of the saddest aspects of this whole mess is that people who came to this country full of energy and hope end up bitter and frustrated, and not only against the Home Office. People end up convinced of the fundamental truth, that immigrants are not welcome here, however we dress things up.

I hope you continue to visit and to give guidance, it is useful for people to see things from the other side of the fence. I would certainly not offer anyone to look at their individual case or prove something by accessing their file (which might even get you sacked?). People come on this forum essentially for mutual support, and they should be able to express themselves freely and anonymously without it being able to be linked up with their case files.

You see, on the "us" side of them and us, we mostly believe, more or less clearly, that the immigration system is not only shockingly inept (I must say, it has been improving over the last few years), but we think it is profoundly unfair, and therefore we empathise with those who attempt to circumvent it, even if some of us may not agree with doing so.

Personally, I believe that just as glaobalisation insists that rich countries should be able to move goods and capital unimpeded around the world, poor people should be able to sell their labout around the world.Telling someone, your life chances must remain limited because of where you were born is immoral. In principal I support open borders - of course this does not imply a benefits free for all.

I do not expect others to share my view, but there it is. I hope all this casts some light for your research. I have chosen not to post this in the forum as it may only stir up more bad feeling.

Good luck