20 May, 2024
2 mins read

Boosted UK legal aid rates ‘not enough’ to deal with Rwanda asylum cases | Immigration and asylum

The Law Society has warned that a proposed 15% increase in legal aid rates will not be enough to ensure that there are sufficient immigration lawyers to deal with the government’s controversial scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The Ministry of Justice launched a consultation on 27 June about increasing legal aid rates by 15% for immigration lawyers representing asylum seekers threatened with removal to Rwanda under new rules in the illegal migration bill.

However, Lubna Shuja, the Law Society’s president, said the pay rise would not deal with the shortage of immigration lawyers in the system.

“There is a severe lack of capacity in the asylum and immigration sector, with many asylum seekers dispersed to areas with no legal aid provisions, and a growing asylum backlog,” she said. “The proposed fee increase alone, which will only be for those who have received a removal notice under the illegal migration bill, is not going to address this capacity crisis.”

Immigration lawyers have said that they share the Law Society’s concerns. They said that the work involved in representing asylum seekers facing removal to Rwanda would be both complex and intensive and that a 15% increase in the low rate of legal aid would not cover it.

At the moment the hourly rate for asylum work is approximately £52 in London and £47 outside London. If asylum seekers are unable to access legal advice the government’s removal notices could face challenges in the courts.

Duncan Lewis, the UK’s largest legal aid firm doing asylum and immigration work, which has thousands of asylum cases, has said that it may have to largely pull out of representing asylum seekers threatened with being sent to Rwanda because the proposed increase in legal aid rates is “unworkable”.

Jeremy Bloom, a solicitor and supervisor in

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US ready second attempt at speedy border asylum screenings

SAN DIEGO — President Joe Biden scrapped expedited asylum screenings during his first month in office as part of a gutting of Trump administration border polices that included building a wall with Mexico. Now he is preparing his own version.

Donald Trump’s fast-track reviews drew sharp criticism from internal government watchdog agencies as the percentage of people who passed those “credible fear interviews” plummeted. But the Biden administration has insisted its speedy screening for asylum-seekers is different: Interviews will be done exclusively by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, not by Border Patrol agents, and everyone will have access to legal counsel.

The decision to use fast-track screenings comes as COVID-19 asylum restrictions are set to expire on May 11 and the US government prepares for an expected increase in illegal crossings from Mexico. The Texas border cities of El Paso, Laredo and Brownsville have declared local states of emergency in recent days to prepare for the anticipated influx.

Normally, about three in four migrants pass credible fear interviews, though far fewer eventually win asylum. But during the five months of the Trump-era program, only 23% passed the initial screening, while 69% failed and 9% withdrew, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Those who get past initial screenings are generally freed in the United States to pursue their cases in immigration court, which typically takes four years. Critics say the court backlog encourages more people to seek asylum.

To pass screenings, migrants must convince an asylum officer they have a “significant possibility” of prevailing before a judge on arguments that they face persecution in their home countries on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

Under the Biden administration’s fast-track program, those who don’t qualify will be deported “in a matter of days or just

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Our View: Civil legal aid is falling short, hurting all of us

Too many Maine residents aren’t able to get the legal representation they need.

No, we’re not talking about those charged with crimes — though we absolutely could be.

Instead, we’re talking about people who need civil legal aid to help them entangle a variety of messy problems with the potential to upset their lives.

Legislators are struggling to fix an indigent criminal defense program that they’ve been allowed to fall apart. Filling the gaps in aid for civil complaints, however, is much easier.

A bill before the Legislature is asking for $11.2 million over the next two years to be distributed through the Civil Legal Defense Fund, which supports the work of providers of civil legal services in Maine.

Unlike the criminal side, there is no constitutional right to representation in civil matters. Still, these organizations provide crucial legal aid to tens of thousands of Mainers in every county every year.

They help folks who otherwise could not afford to fight eviction and foreclosure, or at least to improve the terms. They advocate for Mainers with disabilities when they are discriminated against in housing, employment and education. They make sure veterans and others get access to the services and programs they qualify for. They help protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault so that they can feel safe at work or school. They help people recover money they’ve lost through scams and exploitation.

Without them, more Mainers would be struggling to get by. More would be left without the resources they need to stay housed, fed and engaged in their lives.

Ultimately, that all costs far more than simply making sure that laws are followed and that people have access to state and federal assistance, which we know lifts people out of poverty and gives them the breathing room

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Jeff Landry subpoenas draw rebuke from immigrant groups | Local Elections

Three small nonprofits that help immigrants in Louisiana navigate the asylum process and get on their feet are caught in the middle of a legal battle launched by Attorney General Jeff Landry and top legal officers in other Republican states against federal rules for asylum seekers.

Landry, who is running for governor, subpoenaed the three groups – Home is Here NOLA, Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy, and Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention – demanding they identify all the asylum seekers the groups aid, any government support they receive and contracts between the groups and the government, among other things.

Now the organizations are asking a judge to quash the request. They argue the subpoenas would subject their clients to retaliation from Landry, as well as producing a chilling effect on their work.

One of the groups, Advocates for Immigrants in Detention, partners with churches to provide support to immigrants, and argued in its motion that Landry’s subpoenas compromise the abilities of the organization and its religious partners to “perform their religious obligations.”

A hearing in the case is slated for April 6 before Judge David Johnson, who served as US attorney for the Western District of Louisiana before being nominated to the federal bench by President Donald Trump.

Bill Quigley, director of the Loyola Law Clinic, who is representing the groups alongside the Center for Constitutional Rights and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP of New York, called Landry’s subpoenas an “abuse of power.” He questioned why Landry targeted small nonprofits instead of Catholic Charities or the several university law clinics in Louisiana who provided aid to larger numbers of immigrants.

Home is Here NOLA is run by two full time and one part time staffer; ISLA is run by seven people; LA AID is run by AmeriCorps VISTA

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Court: UK plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda is legal

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s High Court ruled Monday that a plan to send asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is legal but the government must consider the circumstances of each case before deporting anyone, a judgment that sets the controversial policy up for further legal battles.

Eight asylum-seekers, aid groups and a border officials’ union filed lawsuits to stop the Conservative government acted on a deportation agreement with Rwanda that is intended to deter migrants from trying to reach the UK on risky journeys across the English Channel.

The UK plans to send some migrants who arrive in the UK as stowaways or in small boats to the East African country, where their asylum claims will be processed. Those granted asylum would stay in Rwanda rather than returning to the UK

“The court has concluded that it is lawful for the government to make arrangements for relocating asylum-seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the United Kingdom,” said Clive Lewis, one of two justices who made the ruling.

But he added that the government “must decide if there is anything about each person’s particular circumstances” which means they should not be sent to Rwanda. He said the government had failed to do that for “the eight individual claimants whose cases we have considered.”

The British and Rwandan governments welcome the ruling. UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman — who has called the Channel crossings an “invasion of our southern coast” — said the government would press on with the plan and “defend against any further legal challenge.”

“Our groundbreaking migration partnership with Rwanda will provide individuals relocated with support to build new lives there, while disrupting the business model of people-smuggling gangs putting lives at risk through dangerous and illegal small

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