Frances Webber

Frances Webber is vice chair of the Institute of Race Relations and a retired immigration lawyer.

Short Cuts: Destroying the Asylum System

Frances Webber, 7 April 2022

Many of the Nationality and Borders Bill’s measures are aimed at stopping uninvited refugees arriving at Britain’s borders. Anyone landing at a UK port without a visa will immediately be liable to a four-year prison sentence. The bill also criminalises anyone – including humanitarian volunteers – taking asylum seekers without visas to a port in order for them to claim asylum, with the maximum penalty now life imprisonment. (An exception for coastguards and lifeboat crews, and other rescuers in certain circumstances, was brought in during the bill’s passage.) Refugees, of course, are rarely able to get visas: you aren’t classified as a refugee under the 1951 Geneva Convention until you are outside your country and unable or unwilling to return. And once outside it, you will be told you’re not eligible for a visa because you’re in a safe third country. This is the catch-22 that results in the dangerous journeys organised by people smugglers.

Short Cuts: Detaining Refugees

Frances Webber, 4 March 2021

If it occurred​ to the home secretary, Priti Patel, or the minister for ‘immigration compliance’, Chris Philp, that an army barracks wasn’t the best place for refugees who might well have been detained and tortured in such places, it didn’t trouble them for long. Nor did they see any problem with housing four hundred men in 28-bed dormitories with two toilets and two...

Short Cuts: Family Migration

Frances Webber, 30 March 2017

In October​ 2010, five months after the coalition government took power, and Theresa May became home secretary, a requirement was brought in for spouses seeking to join their (British or non-EU) partners in Britain to pass an English test as a precondition of a visa (unless they were from an English-speaking country, had a degree taught in English, were over 65, had a mental or physical...

Short Cuts: Snooping on Migrants

Frances Webber, 31 March 2016

In October​ 2015, the government amended the ministerial code, removing all references to the obligation on ministers to comply with international law when carrying out their duties. This quiet change, which the government insists will make no difference in practice, echoes the Ministry of Justice’s 2014 proposal to make the European Convention on Human Rights ‘advisory...

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