(IRIN) – In the violence immediately before and after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in October 2011, thousands of sub-Saharan migrants were forced to flee. Since then, however, the authorities have detained in harsh conditions, and subsequently deported, hundreds more, according to former Chadian migrant workers.
This report online: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportID=97617
Asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution can often be left impoverished and destitute once in the UK. Having escaped conflict in their native countries, they must apply for asylum in order to legally become refugees. Often, the majority of asylum seekers are required to live on a meager £5.23 a day while waiting for a decision on their asylum application.
Source: The Ripple
The UK failed to treat more than 2,500 overseas students threatened with deportation at London Metropolitan University like human beings, a leading vice-chancellor claimed today.
Source: Free Movement
From 9 July 2012 the UKBA’s new rules on deportation took effect and should be retrospective, paragraph A362 stating ‘Where Article 8 is raised in the context of deportation…the claim under Article 8 will only succeed where the requirements of these rules as at 9 July 2012 are met, regardless of when the notice of intention to deport or the deportation order…was served.’ If then, regardless of when the notice of intention to deport or the deportation order was served, the requirements of these rules have now to be met one wonders why Home Office Presenting Officers and the Secretary of State’s counsel are currently being instructed not to raise the new rules in appeals against decisions taken before 9 July 2012. Whatever their instructions, it’s essential to be prepared though as accordingly to our sources guidance given to Tribunals directs them to apply the new rules to appeals.
As a starting point for looking at these rules, section 7 (‘Policy Background’) the Explanatory Memorandum to the Statement of Changes is worth reading, the deportation portion providing:
Clear criteria on criminality
7.9 The new Immigration Rules set clear criteria for how an applicant’s criminality will impact on the scope for them to be granted leave to enter the UK on the basis of their family life or leave to remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life. ..
At first glance then it might seem that, if it were possible, things have just got even worse for foreign national prisoners seeking to assert their Article 8 rights. The criteria within the rules are certainly clear enough but whether the Secretary of State is correct in stating that Article 8 claims can only ever succeed if the rules are met is highly questionable. In fact, I don’t think it’s right at all.
Here are the new rules:
396. Where a person is liable to deportation the presumption shall be that the public interest requires deportation. It is in the public interest to deport where the Secretary of State must make a deportation order in accordance with section 32 of the UK Borders Act 2007.
397. A deportation order will not be made if the person’s removal pursuant to the order would be contrary to the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the Human Rights Convention. Where deportation would not be contrary to these obligations, it will only be in exceptional circumstances that the public interest in deportation is outweighed.
That’s clear enough. They continue:
398. Where a person claims that their deportation would be contrary to the UK’s obligations under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention, and
(a) the deportation of the person from the UK is conducive to the public good because they have been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years;
(b) the deportation of the person from the UK is conducive to the public good because they have been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of less than 4 years but at least 12 months; or
(c) the deportation of the person from the UK is conducive to the public good because, in the view of the Secretary of State, their offending has caused serious harm or they are a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law,
the Secretary of State in assessing that claim will consider whether paragraph 399 or 399A applies and, if it does not, it will only be in exceptional circumstances that the public interest in deportation will be outweighed by other factors..’
Pausing there, the ‘..persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law’ in paragraph 398(c) is arguably the old conducive test anyway and I don’t see why a ‘serious harm’ test even appears since any ‘serious harm’ to the public would likely attract a sentence of at least 12 months in any event. On the other hand, one can perhaps guess that it at least gives the Secretary of State the power to interpret ‘harm’, ‘persistent offender’ and ‘particular disregard for the law’ as widely as is necessary at any particular time.
Paragraph 399 provides that it applies where paragraph 398(b) (sentence between 12 months and under 4 years) or paragraph 398(c) (persistent offender/offending caused serious harm) apply. Paragraph 399(a) refers to partners and children whereas paragraph 399(b) refers to just partners:
399 (a) the person has a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a child under the age of 18 years who is in the UK, and
(i) the child is a British Citizen; or
(ii) the child has lived in the UK continuously for at least the 7 years immediately preceding the date of the immigration decision; and in either case
(a) it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK; and
(b) there is no other family member who is able to care for the child in the UK; or
(b) the person has a genuine and subsisting relationship with a partner who is in the UK and is a British Citizen, settled in the UK, or in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection, and
(i) the person has lived in the UK with valid leave continuously for at least the 15 years immediately preceding the date of the immigration decision (discounting any period of imprisonment); and
(ii) there are insurmountable obstacles to family life with that partner continuing outside the UK..
At paragraph 399A, the SSHD turns to the situation where an offender has no children or partner:
This paragraph applies where paragraph 398(b) or (c) applies if –
(a) the person has lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years immediately preceding the date of the immigration decision (discounting any period of imprisonment) and he has no ties (including social, cultural or family) with the country to which he would have to go if required to leave the UK; or
(b) the person is aged under 25 years, he has spent at least half of his life living continuously in the UK immediately preceding the date of the immigration decision (discounting any period of imprisonment) and he has no ties (including social, cultural or family) with the country to which he would have to go if required to leave the UK.’
The Explanatory Memorandum summarises the supposed effect of these rules more emphatically:
Deportation will not be proportionate where:
- They have a genuine and subsisting relationship with a partner in the UK (who is a British citizen, settled in the UK or in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection), and they have lived here lawfully for at least the last 15 years (excluding any period of imprisonment) and there are insurmountable obstacles to family life with that partner continuing overseas; or
- They have a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a British citizen child, or a foreign national child who has lived in the UK continuously for at least the last seven years, and it would be unreasonable to expect the child to leave the UK, and there is no other family member who is able to care for the child in the UK; or
- They have resided in the UK continuously for at least the last 20 years, or the applicant is aged under 25 years and has spent at least half of his life residing continuously in the UK (in either case, excluding any period of imprisonment), and they have no ties (including social, cultural or family) with their country of origin.
Taking all of the above into account, is the Secretary of State therefore saying that Article 8 would not be breached in situations other than those listed and thus the consideration of any person’s claim would fall into the legally meaningless ‘exceptional’, for example, where a foreign national prisoner’s sentence is or exceeds 4 years’ imprisonment? It does seems so, but she must be is wrong, mustn’t she?
Looking at paragraph 399(a), for example, can this be said to be fully compliant with section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 and/or the Supreme Court’s ruling in ZH(Tanzania)? I would say not where, for example, the child has lived here for all his life but that life is, say, but 4, 5 or 6½ years long. Also, by whose standards are we to judge whether another family member is ‘..able to care for the child’. Further, even if there is a family member able to care for the child, is the exclusion of the foreign national parent in the child’s best interests? Can a few lines of rules reflect such a legally vexed and emotionally charged issue? (As an aside, in a recent determination one Tribunal found that the exclusion would be in the child’s best interests as the father would not be a good role model for the child anyway. Look out for that one in the coming weeks and months). Further, paragraph 399(b)(ii) reintroduces the ‘insurmountable obstacles’ test. Whether that means ‘Mahmood insurmountable’ or ‘VW(Uganda) insurmountable’ is unclear.
The SSHD’s claimed intention was to have its officials and Tribunals apply her definition of proportionality as codified in the rules. But these rules do not define proportionality in the way that it is understood in domestic or European jurisprudence. My colleague Claire Physsas in her excellent recent post clearly sets out the conflicts between the jurisprudence and the SSHD’s idea of Article 8 proportionality and it is therefore unnecessary for this to be repeated here.
Certainly, Article 8 jurisprudence will have to be referred to in interpreting some of the rules (reasonableness of expecting a child to leave the United Kingdom, insurmountable obstacles, etc.) and, as stressed by Claire, where it demonstrated that the rules do not accurately or lawfully reflect Article 8 jurisprudence on proportionality (or even family or private life) then the courts will be unable to ignore their constitutional duty under the Human Rights Act 1998.
To add to the unsatisfactory nature of the construction of the new rules, at paragraph 399B it states (my emphasis): ‘Where paragraph 399 or 399A applies limited leave may be granted for a period not exceeding 30 months. Such leave shall be given subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State deems appropriate.’ Therefore even if the particular foreign national succeeds under deportation rules on Article 8, the SSHD’s power to grant only 30 months’ leave is discretionary only. It does seem bizarre that when, in the SSHD’s own words (paragraph 397) a deportation order will not be made where removal pursuant to that order would breach Article 8 that a person’s stay in the United Kingdom would still potentially be subject to arbitrary decision making.
It is either ‘necessary’ to deport a person or it is not and once the SSHD or a Tribunal has decided that it is not, it is only right that the enjoyment of these Article 8 rights be properly respected by the certainty that 30 months’ leave will automatically be granted and that the leave is free from any ‘conditions’ deemed appropriate by the SSHD and what the current SSHD considers appropriate is probably highly inappropriate.
Information published by the Sunday Times has revealed how the Labour government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown facilitated the deportation and torture of opponents of the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
The information highlights the utter hypocrisy surrounding British foreign policy—in this case, how, since the NATO-led war to depose Gaddafi, yesterday’s terrorists have become today’s freedom fighters and trusted allies.
Seven Algerian men have won their appeal at the Supreme Court against the decision taken by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission to deport them on national security grounds.
Source: Institute of Race Relations
By John Grayson
Asylum seekers were the guinea pigs for all kinds of brutal and unacceptable policies that are now beginning to be applied more widely.
Private security firms are in the news – a national contract worth £3.5 billion is being rolled out to privatise police functions. Eight public prisons are being market tested with future private contracts worth £2.5 billion. The largest security company in the world, G4S, figures in all these developments. G4S and two other security companies are also set to take over asylum-seeker housing, privatising the last ‘humanitarian’ public housing for those fleeing persecution. But this is only the latest evidence of asylum seekers being used as ‘guinea pigs’ to test unsavoury policies in such areas as welfare reform, legal aid and now housing.
The growing and now endemic ‘common sense racism’ of political and media discourses with regard to asylum seekers and foreigners has meant that a fundamental erosion in the legal rights and status of social citizenship in the UK has over fifteen or so years been piloted by governments in ‘the Orwellian world of immigration controls’. As Judith Shklar describes it, a world where there is ‘a symbolic glass floor – citizens exist above the floor and can look down on those beneath who are excluded from citizenship and are thus the most deprived in society’.
Over the past few years, the derisory value of state support for asylum-seeker families and single people has been reduced even more in value and scope. It was very difficult in 2009 and 2010 to find any political support for the campaigns of asylum rights groups to oppose cuts and to defend the income of asylum seekers pilloried in the press and attacked by politicians in election campaigns. Just as later, in 2011 and 2012, the press and the populist narratives of ’scroungers’ have dominated the rhetoric and ‘bloody battles’ over welfare cuts separating claimants out from ‘hard working families’.
This week the House of Lords attempts to prevent drastic cuts in legal aid for a whole range of civil cases affecting housing, family cases, and personal compensation. Lobby groups are realising that legal aid and access to justice is the last remaining pillar of welfare rights and social citizenship developed in the 1940s along with education, health, housing, employment, and universal benefits. But massive cuts in legal aid for asylum and immigration cases were already made in 2010 and 2011, resulting in the collapse of the two major voluntary sector providers, the Immigration Advisory Service and Refugee Migrant Justice. But the ongoing demonising of foreigners and asylum seekers ensured then that few voices were raised against cuts which of course affected immigration lawyers – the butt of attacks by successive home and justice secretaries from Jack Straw and David Blunkett to Theresa May and Ken Clarke.
Outsourcing punishment, detention and state violence
British governments since the 1990s have sought to outsource key functions of the modern state – such as the confining and rehabilitating of criminals – which has been rapidly achieved through the rise and rise of global private security companies such as G4S and SERCO.
Almost unnoticed, the UK has now the largest private prison sector in Europe – larger than that of the USA. In December 2011 in England and Wales 11,446 prisoners (13.1 per cent) were in private prisons. By the end of March there will be fourteen private prisons. The market testing of a further eight public prisons, at present underway, could mean another 5,700 prisoners in private prisons in the next year or so. The value of these eight contracts over fifteen years is estimated at £2.5 billion.
The private security companies have profited massively from this management of the prisoner market which just three companies share. G4S will have seven contracts by April 2012, SERCO five, and Sodexo three including the only private women’s prison at Bronzefield. On 1 October 2011, HMP Birmingham became the first publicly-run prison to be contracted out to the private sector and G4S with a contract worth £468.3 million.
The G4S and SERCO prison empires have also hoovered up voluntary organisations. G4S has been jointly providing family services for visitors at its Wolds prison since 2004 with the PreSchool Learning Alliance ‘the largest third sector provider of quality childcare’. SERCO won contracts for prisons with its voluntary sector partners Turning Point and Catch 22 providing ‘rehabilitation and resettlement solutions’ (for instance for Belmarsh West in 2010) and is currently running a pilot ‘payments by results scheme’ with Catch 22 and Turning Point on rehabilitation at its privatised HMP Doncaster where it already runs a successful ‘Families First’ programme.
Alongside the prison estate market, the criminalising and ’securitising’ of immigration and asylum has meant the development of what G4S has described as ‘asylum markets’. Private security firms have come to dominate detention, transport and escort services for asylum seekers, displacing politically accountable public provision. G4S Justice Services opened the first designed, constructed, managed and financed private prison in the UK, HMP Altcourse, Fazakerley, Liverpool in 1997. By 2011 it had seven prison contracts and managed four of the detention centres for asylum seekers including the family-friendly Cedars centre (already attracting criticism for detention of families who are allowed fewer rights than in the prison and detention system). Its management of detention centres was also somewhat problematic. In 2010 there were a record 773 complaints lodged against G4S by detainees including forty-eight claims of assault.
G4S, despite this record and the fact that three of its escort staff are still on bail facing criminal charges related to the death of Jimmy Mubenga an Angolan man, (read an IRR News story: ‘Jimmy Mubenga remembered’ (http://www.irr.org.uk/2011/october/ha000025.html)), is finalising its contract to take over asylum-seeker housing in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. (Other security firms, SERCO and Reliance, share contracts in other regions.) The company is extending its interests in the asylum market but these contracts signal a further shift in public policy, this time in housing.
Asylum housing as ‘house arrest’
Asylum seekers and asylum rights campaigners perceive this extension of the role of for-profit security companies in the prison and immigration estate as creating a form of ‘house arrest’ for asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their claims. Could this be an initial step towards the policy, called for recently by former home office junior minister Anne Widdecombe, of ‘detention centres on arrival’ for all asylum seekers? There was after all an earlier attempt in December 2005 to introduce such a regime with a Home Office contract for the security firm Reliance to pilot voice recognition and tagging of 200 asylum seekers in Glasgow and two other areas.
For G4S the asylum housing contract may signal their hope to enter the international privatised social housing and for-profit private rented sector markets. G4S has set up a separate housing division as part of its Yorkshire contract headed by a former president of the Chartered Institute of Housing. Its management methods will be tested on upwards of 500 asylum-seeker families and individuals who will be dispersed from local authority housing in South Yorkshire over the next six months. None of these residents will of course have any rights as tenants nor even as customers – these are all stripped away by the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act. Asylum seekers are treated as if they have no real legal presence.
Not just a matter of cost
The language of the market and the current climate of ‘austerity’ often justifies these private contracts in terms of cost. Research actually suggests that private prisons, detention centres and other asylum market services are not always cheaper options. Private prisons certainly tend to be more overcrowded than publicly run institutions, The privately run detention institutions in ‘the Orwellian world of immigration controls’ are certainly not cheap, but costings are rarely reported. The Home Affairs Select Committee reported some figures in November 2009. The average cost of detention was £130 per night per person in an immigration removal centre which amounts to around £45,000 per place per year. This is thus much higher in the mainly privatised detention centre world than the average in the mainly publicly controlled prison world (most prisoners are in category C or local prisons where the costs per male prisoner are £32,109 and £35,157 per annum respectively).
Whatever the costs, the detention centres certainly have a disgraceful record As a recent research study has documented over the past few years. ‘In the UK’s detention centres there have been 16 suicides, alarming rates of self-harm, hunger strikes and appalling levels of mental and physical illness. Thousands of innocent men women and children have been put through the detention wringer’.
In a rather surreal moment in a recent meeting between UK Border Agency (UKBA) ‘enforcement’ staff and asylum rights organisations in Sheffield, the UKBA disclosed that it was striving to get a ‘customer service and satisfaction award’ for its direct and outsourced escort and detention services. An outsourced escort service then operated by G4S was involved in the death of Jimmy Mubenga and three of his escorts are under investigation for possible prosecution.
The sheer power of the European private security industry
Recent disclosures about the massive £3.5 billion national contract for privatising police services (at present taken up by West Midlands and Surrey police forces) follow the news that G4S has already won a £200 million contract to transfer half the staff of Lincolnshire police authority and build and run a new police station there.
The private security market in general across the EU is displacing routine state policing duties? In all the countries of the EU there is an average of 31.11 private security personnel per 10,000 people as compared to 36.28 police personnel per 10,000. As one commentator has said this is actually changing the assumed ‘norm’ that it is the state and not private companies which have a monopoly on state violence.
The UK is amongst the most intensively covered by private security with one private guard to every 170 people compared with one police employee to every 382 citizens -figures comparable to Hungary and Serbia. Germany on the other hand has much lighter private security with one private guard for every 484 citizens and one police employee for every 326 citizens. The private security business in the UK is worth £3.97 billion annually. Across Europe this is a very powerful lobby for privatising and marketising state functions. Just three companies have 46 per cent of the market in the UK. Just three companies have 56 per cent of the market across the EU. Published data from the EU does not directly name them but it would be strange indeed if G4S and SERCO were not amongst them.
The private asylum market is not neutral, it comes with unsavoury values
Conor Gearty, in a lecture to Asylum Aid (http://www.asylumaid.org.uk/) in November 2010, suggested that: ‘We are I think close to or at a paradigm shift in our approach to asylum seekers and immigrants in Europe, that moment when we stop thinking in ways made inevitable by our past ethical truths, and start talking and thinking in a far nastier vein. The latter is becoming normal the former increasingly the exception. The rule is drifting from civility to incivility, from respect for humanity to celebration of inhumanity, from universalist idealism to parochial hostility. And all of this is seemingly supported by a new fast emerging “social consensus”.’
In Sheffield and South Yorkshire some local authorities, many trade unionists, church and faith groups, and a network of asylum rights and refugee groups hold to the ’social democratic’ world of those past ethical truths. In early April in Geneva the UK will be held to account in the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights. The South Yorkshire asylum rights ‘consensus’ submitted their own review of the sustained attacks on the human rights of asylum seekers in Sheffield for submission to the UNHRC.
This ‘far nastier’ social consensus on asylum is driven in the UK by a common sense and state racism in terms of public policy and is delivered in the market place by the practice of private security firms. These ‘far nastier’ assumptions about state policies are unfortunately often shared across the boundaries between private and public provision. On the Today programme on Saturday 3 March John Humphrys was challenging Chief Superintendent Phil Kay of the West Midland police about its proposed involvement in the privatisation of the police arguing that the values of a private company subject to shareholders was totally different to ’sworn officers’ in police service. Superintendent Kay disagreed, he thought that ’some of their values will be different’ but developing the potential ‘partnership’ he found they shared similar values to our own’. ‘You’d be surprised in some respects, there will be overlap.’ Unfortunately there may well be ‘overlap’ in values – but perhaps of the ‘far nastier’ variety.
Those living outside South Yorkshire might find it difficult to believe that Sheffield still declares itself a City of Sanctuary (in fact it started the national movement), and Barnsley proclaims it still provides ‘humanitarian’ housing for asylum seekers. A petition against G4S taking over asylum housing presented to the full Sheffield city council meeting on 1 February was applauded by the whole council.
Councillors and campaigners understand that the G4S contract not only privatises this humanitarian function but destroys it and replaces it with the clear message adopted by both Labour and the Coalition that asylum seekers are not welcome here. Indeed they should be treated like criminals with prison guards as their landlords, as part of a deliberate policy of deterrence. As one Zimbabwean asylum seeker in Sheffield declared, ‘I do not want a prison guard as my landlord’.
Future tenants and customers confronting G4S in its role as housing provider will no doubt be able to recognise that it piloted its particular brand of housing management on vulnerable asylum seekers ‘below that symbolic glass floor’.
 Cohen S. Deportation is freedom: the Orwellian world of immigration controls, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2008.  Quoted in Lavalette M. and Ferguson I. eds International Social Work and the Radical Tradition, Birmingham: Venture Press 2007, p118.  Prison Reform Trust, Bromley Briefings Prisons Factfile December 2011, can be downloaded here ( http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Bromley%20Briefing%20December%202011.pdf) (pdf file, 1.5mb). , ‘Ken Clarke privatises Birmingham prison amid union fury’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12920843), BBC News, 31 March 2011.  Win-Win : the leadership of private and third sector public service partnerships, pp 10-11, 2010, ACEVO and CBI, can be downloaded here (http://www.acevo.org.uk/Document.Doc?id=832) (pdf file, 2.4mb).  Serco ( http://www.serco.com/) press release, 5 July 2010 and 11 October 2011.  John Grayson, ‘G4S turns a profit in “asylum markets”: who’s speaking out and whose lips are sealed?’ (http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/g4s-turns-profit-in-%E2%80%9Casylum-markets%E2%80%9D-whos-speaking-out-and-whose-lips-are-se), Open Democracy, 28 February 2012.
 Private Eye, no. 1303, December 9 to 22, 2011 p.31.  Dominic Casciani, ‘G4S immigration removal centres complaints revealed’ ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13802163), BBC News, 17 June 2011.  Ann Widdecombe, ‘Why coalition has given me cause to hope’ ( http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/294828/Why-coalition-has-given-me-cause-to-hope/), Daily Express, 11 January 2012.  Corporate Watch, ‘Scotland PLC: immigration and asylum in Scotland’ ( http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=1364).  Ian Blair, ‘The police: a chance to modernise’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/04/chance-to-modernise-police-force), Guardian, 5 March 2012.  In 2007 according to a parliamentary written answer the costs of private prisons per place were higher than public sector prisons in most categories cited in Bromley Briefings prisons Factfile December 2011, op cit.  Private prisons have held a higher percentage of their prisoners in overcrowded accommodation than public sector prisons every year for the past thirteen years, Bromley Briefings prisons Factfile December 2011, op cit.  Ministry of Justice, ‘Costs per place and costs per prisoner by individual prison’, NOMS Annual Report and Accounts 2010/11, 27 October 2011.  Melanie McFadyean, ‘Detention is no solution’ ( http://www.statecrime.org/crime-studies-resources/gg-refugees/269-detention-is-no-solution), The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) (http://statecrime.org/) website.  Alan Travis and Zoe Williams, ‘Revealed: government plans for police privatisation’ ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/02/police-privatisation-security-firms-crime), Guardian, 2 March 2012.  ‘ Lincolnshire police outsource £200m support contract’ ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-16277806)
The Independent Chief Inspector of the Border Agency has found that there is ‘too great a risk’ that torture survivors are detained in the ‘fast-track system’.
By Frances Webber| Institute of Race Relations
A respected academic has won his fight against deportation on the ground that his bank balance fell below £800.
This is the sort of story that the tabloids would love if it was about a sturdy British fight against a barmy EU directive or health and safety regulation. But because it’s about an outspoken Muslim academic’s fight against the homegrown petty bureaucracy of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), it’s unlikely to get any headlines in the Daily Mail, the Express or the Telegraph. Dr Muhammad Idrees Ahmad is a respected academic and prolific freelance writer whose topics include drone attacks, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the construction of fear in the war on terror. After finishing a doctorate at Strathclyde University and lecturing part-time in media studies, he was offered a post as a lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester, on a salary of £35,000. Applying under the points-based system for a work visa to enable him to take up the post, he obtained all the requisite points for qualifications and English language proficiency.
But, the immigration rules require applicants to show that they will be self-sufficient and not use British benefits. Fair enough. But the way they must prove their self-sufficiency is to provide bank statements showing that in the three months before the application, their bank balance never slipped below £800. And Dr Idrees’s bank balance, which stood at £1500 when he applied, had been below the magic £800 mark for some time during the previous three months because of late payments for journalistic work. So although there is no doubt about his ability to support himself – he is better off now than he was as a student, and he has never needed to claim benefits – the UKBA refused the visa.
In a campaign supported by Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) (http://www.sacc.org.uk/), more than fifty academics wrote to Scottish first minister Alex Salmond and to home secretary Theresa May to protest the red tape and urge them to allow Dr Idrees to pursue his academic career in the UK. Many attended his appeal on 23 January in Glasgow, where the Tribunal allowed the appeal immediately. But the UKBA indicated that it might appeal the Tribunal’s decision, on the ground that the evidence he submitted did not meet the mandatory requirements of the rule. Its officials appear incapable of realising the injustice caused by so rigid an application of the self-sufficiency requirement.
According to the Scotsman, which covered the story, two firms of lawyers he consulted for advice told him not to waste his money on legal fees as he was bound to lose the appeal. Dr Idrees’ case is by no means unique. Refusal of a visa on this ground is common, particularly for those applying from abroad. One applicant was refused after his account fell below £800 by just £1. Those refused visas abroad don’t even get a right of appeal. Some see the rigid rule as a devious way of cutting migrant numbers, a rash pledge made in the early days of the coalition government and proving more difficult than anticipated.
 ‘Lecturer faced deportation for having less than £800′ (http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/scotland/lecturer_faced_deportation_for_having_less_than_800_1_2073391), Scotsman, 24 January 2012. Some of Dr Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s work can be seen: here ( http://fanonite.org/articles/)