Published On: 25th September 2019

Earlier this month PILC and Migrants Rights Network held a roundtable meeting on migrant rough sleeper rights. Attendees includes Streets Kitchen, Liberty, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Project 17, Refugee Council and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth.

The aim of the meeting was to develop ways of working together to uphold the rights of migrant rough sleepers, especially around data sharing and the role of local authorities & the voluntary sector in immigration enforcement.

PILC & MRN are particularly interested in monitoring the Home Office’s Rough Sleeping Support Service, which the Home Office claims has been introduced ‘to help non-UK nationals sleeping rough resolve their immigration cases and access the support that they need.’

However emails between the Home Office and the GLA, obtained through FOI requests made by Liberty, suggest that the RSSS represents a new effort to co-opt local councils and charities into the ‘delivery of immigration control’ and an attempt to circumvent consent-based information sharing.

The Home Office and some local authorities and homelessness charities have a history of unethical and unlawful practice when it comes to migrant rough sleepers. In December 2017 a Home Office policy allowing EEA-national rough sleepers to be detained and ‘administratively removed’ on the basis that rough sleeping was an ‘abuse’ or ‘misuse’ of EU treaty rights was ruled unlawful in the High Court as a result of a judicial review brought by PILC and North East London Migrant Action (NELMA).

NGOs, lawyers and activists who care about upholding the rights of homeless people in the ‘hostile environment’ need to work together to keep the Home Office and its allies honest on migrant rough sleeper rights.

PILC has produced a briefing on the RSSS.

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