We have seen some shocking revelations about the Home Office over the last weeks, such as targets for removing illegal immigrants that encouraged officials to deport anyone they could - including people who were not illegal immigrants, such as the Windrush generation. In 2010, they destroyed the landing cards of people who came to the UK to work and live, although these were vital evidence for people to prove their status as legal residents.
Although Home Secretary Amber Rudd may have resigned, the Hostile Environment has not gone away. We have seen repeatedly that if you are applying to stay in the UK a simple error could turn your life upside down. That is why it is vital that people retain access to data held about them by the Home Office so they can correct mistakes and launch appeals.
The Data Protection Bill now going through Parliament is supposed to give people greater control over their data, but it contains an exemption for immigration cases that does exactly the opposite. An amendment has been suggested to the Data Protection Bill to remove this exemption, and next week will be the last chance to change the Bill. Can you take a minute to write to your MP and let them know you are concerned about your rights?
MPs will disregard copied emails, so use these guidelines to write your own unique message.
- The Immigration Exemption (schedule 2, part 1, paragraph 4) must be removed from the Data Protection Bill. Ask your MP to support amendment 15 which removes the Immigration Exemption.
- After the appalling treatment of the Windrush generation, including the destruction of vital evidence of their legal status, the Home Office must concede the important of people being able to access their own records.
- According to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Home Office has a ten percent error rate in immigration status checks. These mistakes can't be fixed unless the people affected can hold the Home Office accountable, but the Immigration Exemption prevents this.
- The Exemption would allow the Home Office and others to share and collect data without restraint or safeguards, defeating the whole purpose of the Data Protection Bill.
- Rights are universal, that’s what makes them rights. This exemption creates a two-tier system where immigrants will have less access to their personal data than UK citizens, which inherently undermines the whole system.
To learn more about why ORG & the3million oppose the new proposed status for EU citizens, go to https://www.the3million.org.uk.