Grenfell immigrants ‘should be granted indefinite leave to remain’

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Jul 18, 2017
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Lawyers said that people may not come forward to make damages claims if they were worried about revealing their immigration status

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Immigrants affected by the Grenfell fire disaster should be allowed indefinite leave to remain in the UK, a lawyer-led group told the home secretary yesterday.

The call was made in response to a government announcement that those Grenfell residents who are not in the UK legally will be offered a one-year “immigration amnesty”. However, the Society of Black Lawyers, the Society of Asian Lawyers and the Association of Muslim Lawyers have written to Amber Rudd saying that that concession is inadequate. They claimed that vulnerable people would not come forward for help if they thought their immigration status would be exposed.

“To ask that these individuals come forward with all the fear and uncertainty that engenders is unlikely to assist their psychological condition and may well achieve the opposite effect,” the groups said in an open letter to the home secretary.

The lawyers said that despite potentially being in the UK illegally, immigrants and their families may have causes of action for damages against the various bodies that ultimately could be found to be responsible for the disaster. “The threat of removal in twelve months’ time,” they wrote, “would seriously undermine their ability to pursue legal remedy. The decision to interfere with their collective or individual ability to pursue reasonable legal claims could amount to a serious breach of their rights under the Human Rights Act.”

The letter ends by arguing that “granting indefinite leave to remain to this small number of people might go some way towards restoring some trust in the authorities’ ability to respond to this tragedy with the compassion, sensitivity and humanity that many residents and observers consider still to be lacking”.

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