Personal Immigration

High Court blocks policy on removing immigrants without warning

Dozens of people have been given a reprieve from being forced to leave the UK after the High Court ordered a suspension of the removal policy used by the Home Office following a challenge by an immigration charity.

Campaign group Medical Justice applied for an interim injunction to bring a halt to the “removals window”, a controversial deportation policy which enables the Home Office to refuse a migrant’s case and remove them from the country with little notice and in many cases with no access to legal representation.

Medical Justice argued that the removals window, which can give migrant’s between just 72 hours and seven days notice to leave, is so short that people subject to such orders have little chance of making representations to stay.

Immediate suspension of immigration removal policy

The suspension means that the Home Office will have to immediately cancel the deportations of 69 people. The Court heard that potentially thousands of people were probably subject to the policy each year.

The removals window gives migrants notice that they may have to leave the UK within the following three months. If they remain, another three-month window can be opened leaving many in an indefinite state of limbo. Once the window begins, Home Office officials are able to act as they see fit without supervision by the courts.

What now for immigration removals?

The standard removal powers of the Home Office remain valid. Officials can still remove suspected illegal immigrants provided they are given a definite date on which it will happen.

The Home Office had argued that the removals window was introduced to prevent people from attempting to sabotage removal attempts at the last minute. A full examination of whether the UK immigration policy has been lawful is expected in the summer.

Medical Justice is a charity which organises for volunteer doctors to enter immigration centres to assess evidence of torture and assist with medical conditions and injuries sustained through removal attempts. Evidence of torture is frequently the difference between having an asylum request approved or rejected.

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