The new report by the Chief Inspector found here highlights, among many well-publicized failings of the hostile environments, some things I had no idea about that left me in complete shock (such as project BORTZ – government looking for illegal immigrants on little children’s school rolls and apparently using Social Services referrals under “safeguarding” guise as enforcement method – read on! pages 37-38 etc ).
The new “migrant status database” that is supposed to replace the previously failed hostile environments methods that were based on the MRP (“refusal pool”, which had erroneously listed everyone with a refusal, without regard to refusals being overturned or superceded, and in many cases British citizenship being subsequently granted), sounds the more terrifying that we all know how terrible is our government at IT and how much it likes to share data with private companies for no reason. If I were not a British citizen, I’d probably leave the UK rather than be in this database.
I can throw into the fire two more incidents of “data sharing” (or as the case may be in one of them, lack thereof) reported by my clients that recently terrified me. I haven’t so far found anything in the report that explains them.
In one instance, my client, who holds a Residence card as an ex=spouse with retained Right of Residence, but was previously on Tier 2 General, reported that she had been contacted by the NHS, now in 2018, over a 2013 birth in the UK of her child. She had valid leave to remain as a Tier 2 general migrant at the time. The NHS told her, however, that there is no record that she had been, at the time, entitled to treatment, and sent her a bill for delivery of her baby and associated hospital stay, upwards of £10,000. Now, 5 years later they sent it to her — obviously as a Tier 2 migrant at the time, she had been registered on the NHS and used the services for years without a problem.
But the NHS is now saying that there is no record as to why she was entitled, and in the absence of such record they conclude that she was not — in fact they appear to be scouting old records to bill people years afterwards. The trick is, NHS does not accept copies of immigration status documents, and of course she no longer has her original Tier 2 BRP, long expired! This is COMPLETE MADNESS and I can see how this can easily destroy a life of someone less savvy, poorer and more prone to blackmail. So far it is not clear how to even start resolving this, especially given that people that are on this at the NHS are thick as bricks and haven’t the slightest idea of the immigration system.
In the other instance, a client who had applied for a permanent residence card, had also claimed Universal Credit. One day she received a message from DWP that said (she sent me a screenshot): “You have passed the Habitual Residence Test since the Home Office issued you with a Document certifying permanent residence”. She sent this to me and said — looks like my application was approved! To which I replied – NO WAY They know before we do! Of course she was… right. They did know! I received her residence card the next day. I am still stunned by this development, especially considering I have piles upon piles of documents on my desk in a former of DWP appeal bundles, in which it is claiming that Home Office residence card issuance has NOTHING to do with its own right to determine who has a right to reside, and who does not (see here).
I am also thinking now of the HMRC cooperation with the Home Office, which has of course taken on evil and comedic forms, but failed to achieve basic needs of justice and administration – so, also tragic. The evil forms of course are the infamous 322(5) “minor tax mistakes” refusals, in which Tier 1 immigrants had been challenged on differences between what they reported to the Home Office and HMRC. The comedic is its current iteration in the EU Exit App, in which it seems to work roughly like this. The system asks for a NIN, and then, regardless of what the applicant themselves says, runs it through the PAYE system lookup. If -inevitably, in 90% of cases – the record shows gaps in 5-year work history, the App says to the confused EU citizen — “You will received pre-settled status. Do you wish to challenge the decision by the Home Office?”.
Confused EU citizens then of course answer “no”, regardless of how well they know that they DO have evidence of 5 years of residence, and MAYBE even know that work history is not in fact required for ne ILR under Appendix EU. In other words, this feature, meant to benefit migrants, leads to scores of them achieving lesser benefit than they otherwise would, if the system dropped this nonsense and asked correct non-threatening questions.
So what then of all these talks for years and years how Home Office enquiries were a burden on HMRC capacity? This is the tragic aspect of course, as a bloody fight had to be fought against HO in every case of an abused wife who required PAYE records lookup to resolve her PR claim (an usually that of multiple children). HMRC was always reluctant and HO stood firm that this was unacceptable. And now of course the stupid APP forces the very same lookup automatically on many people who neither want nor need it.
I truly feel like we live in an evil circus run by clowns, who locked the doors and took our wallets under guise of showing us a magic trick, except the disappearance of the wallets was the trick itself. NOT FUNNY.