Home Office staff take government to court with concerns ‘culture of fear’ is illegal

Minister for inhumanity: Priti Patel’s “Hostile Environment” policies have involved Home Office staff in illegal activities in the past. Now she is being challenged in court to prove her plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda is not also against the law.

10 years after the launch of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy, representatives of Home Office staff are challenging the government in court over things they are being asked to do.

The Public and Commercial Services Union and the Immigration Services Union are challenging Priti Patel’s policies to “pushback” small boats in the English Channel and to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

They have strong justification: the “pushback” policy is likely to break international law on asylum while the idea of deportations to Rwanda copies a previous policy by Israel – that didn’t work and was abandoned.

And the Conservative government has a record of “Hostile Environment” criminality.

We all know – don’t we? – about the Windrush Scandal that illegally targeted for deportation a generation of people who had the right to live in the UK but whose documentation had been destroyed.

The Home Office has also wrongly accused 34,000 international students of cheating in English language tests and failed to ensure that innocent people were not wrongly deported.

An Institute for Public Policy Research report in 2020 concluded the hostile environment policy had fostered racism, pushed people into destitution, wrongly targeted people who were living in the UK legally, and had “severely harmed the reputation of the Home Office”.

In the wake of the Windrush scandal the Home Office committed to introduce a total transformation of the department, including a review of the hostile environment policies – and failed to complete it.

So it should be no surprise that civil service representatives are trying to protect workers from having to take part in Priti Patel’s potential crimes.

One glance at comments on the “Hostile Environment” policy by Nazek Ramdan, the director of the charity Migrant Voice, should make the reason crystal clear:

“Perhaps no other policy in living memory has left such a malign mark, a stain like an oil slick. It is racist, xenophobic, immoral, illegal, unfair, punishing, divisive, mean-spirited, discriminatory and counterproductive.”

Source: Home Office staff worry they may be asked to act illegally in ‘culture of fear’

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