…you just think of home and tap your heels. Or, why the UK government’s go home campaign doesn’t check out.
To paraphrase Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, or the UK government – we forget which – ‘Is life here hard? Going home is simple’.
Setting aside for the moment how offensive – or criminally offensive – it is to tell people to go home, not least because plenty of non-British people call the UK home, are the government’s claims accurate?
Based on our clients’ experiences, we’d agree that life in the UK is hard. People in the UK are subjected to asylum & immigration detention and destitution. Immigration detention is indefinite. Ex-detainees are banned from the right to work and mainstream benefits. Access to legal representation to challenge unfair treatment is severely restricted.
So if it’s true that the UK makes life hard, how easy is it to leave?
Not so simple
Many of our clients simply cannot go home. ‘Home’ is an armed conflict zone. ‘Home’ is unsafe – because of the person’s religious, racial, political, sexual or other identity. ‘Home’ is non-existent – because the person cannot be documented as belonging to a State (s/he is stateless, there are no diplomatic relations with UK, or s/he cannot prove his/her nationality).
Some of our clients have lived here all their lives, even if they aren’t British. Some have their family in the UK, and cannot just leave their children. There is a myriad of issues that such a blatant campaign misses.
Many of our clients have a right to be in the UK as asylum seekers. Asylum seeking is a complex process – it means you have a genuine fear of persecution, on the basis of which you’re asking the UK for protection. It is not the individual’s fault that the UK Home Office takes so long to process a claim for protection, gets so many claims wrong, and is so inefficient.
For example, in 2010 the UK was refusing 99% of gay and lesbian asylum claims. This didn’t mean 99% of those people should have just ‘gone home’ to meet violence and death (it is a crime to be gay in 76 States in the world). The high refusal rate meant that political and civil processes needed to be improved.
A disingenuous campaign?
For the government to tell non-British people in the UK to ‘go home’ is to ignore its own pivotal role in deciding these same individuals’ fates. A failed asylum seeker is someone whose claim for protection has been rejected by the government. However, the government routinely gets these decisions wrong and the individual asylum seeker therefore has to go through a lengthy and distressing appeals process through no fault of their own, during which time they are banned from the right to work and mainstream benefits.
If you think going home might not be as simple as the Home Office says it is, you can tell them before 9 October 2013.