The scheme that diminishes you and me


The proposal that refugee applications will now be processed in Rwanda has several depths of inhumanity which I’m not sure even the critics have fully grasped.

When people apply to the Home Office they receive a wall of institutional hostility. Although I’m *not* an immigration lawyer, I have represented people in housing and employment cases, who were dealt with by the Home Office. Its letters are often marked by extreme administrative incompetence: decisions which need a few hours taking years and years, decisions which mix up facts from different cases, jokes about the lives of the people who cases are being decided, incompatible decisions so that people are told one thing on a Monday and something else on a Tuesday and have no way of knowing which decision prevails… I don’t believe there is any part of public life in Britain where cruelty and chaos live together so freely.

Anyway, to moderate the Home Office we have a highly developed legal infrastructure – specialist lawyers, judges with expertise of dealing with immigration cases. They aren’t perfect, nothing in life is, but they go a modest way towards remedying some of the very most egregious failures of the system.

Take refugees to Rwanda for processing, and the first thing which will go will be that layer of legal protection. There will be no solicitors or barristers available to speak to the clients. There won’t be legal aid – the refugees won’t be in England.

If this change goes through, then our society will be that bit less human. You and I will each be diminished by it.

I don’t have the words to convey my anger at the politicians who are proposing this new scheme, or the journalists who have eased the path towards this horror.

(Written before the details of the scheme had been released. For a detailed commentary on it, see the account which has now been published on the Free Movement blog)

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