Further embedded Home Office immigration check staff scrapped
Labour councils across the UK are beginning to remove Home Office immigration officers which have previously been “embedded” among local authorities. The move comes after calls from councillors to stop creating hostile environments for migrants.
Embedded Home Office officials typically sit in on meetings arranged between councils and vulnerable migrants. This is to ensure the Home Office can keep track of each vulnerable person who registers to access emergency funding. However, the embedded officials have been accused of “snooping” on migrants and passing information to UK immigration enforcement officers. Some have even been accused of encouraging undocumented persons to voluntarily leave the UK. Such advice could prove damaging and affect applications to stay within the country.
Campaigners and lobbyists have been outspoken about embedded officers in the past, stating that destitute migrants could be put off from asking for support from their local council for fear of immigration action being taken against them.
Lewisham has recently announced it will scrap embedded Home Office officials. The council said that the move was to “reassure” the most vulnerable immigrants that Lewisham would support them in their decision to stay.
The move comes on the back of Southwark council’s decision to scrap its only embedded Home Office official last year. Critics of the decision to use embedded officers have highlighted that embedded officers within local authorities and private entities could be costing the taxpayer hundreds of pounds per day merely to provide “real-time” access to the immigration status of individuals in particular areas.
While Southwark council’s agreement with Home Office officials came to a close at the end of September 2018, the council chose not to publicise its decision. A spokesperson for the Labour-led council recently stated that they believed those waiting on a UK visa decision should be allowed an entitlement to emergency funds without their information being passed on to Home Office officials.
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