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New resource to help migrants navigate "hostile environment"

GUIDANCE: Pocket-sized booklet Know Your Rights aims to help migrants

A NEW guide to help migrants successfully navigate UK institutions has been launched by the Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN).

Know Your Rights is a pocket-sized booklet with information for everyone who has moved to the UK from abroad, whether an EU citizen or asylum seeker, as well as professionals offering advice to migrants.

Fizza Qureshi, director of Migrants’ Rights Network, said: “The Government is trying to stop many migrants from doing everyday things they need to live a normal life, like working, having a bank account, driving a car, renting a house.

“It’s also asking some migrants to pay in advance for essential medical treatment and asking health professionals, banks, landlords and employers to check people's immigration documents.”

Some of the policies that the Know Your Rights guide cites as evidence of what it refers to as a “hostile environment” include the ability that the DVLA now has to revoke a driver’s licence if they believe the person does not have permission to be in the UK; reports that some schools have been demanding to see children’s passports to confirm their nationality and the NHS routinely handing over details of migrant patients to the Home Office in relation to requests from immigration officials.

MRN liken the immigration-checking duties recently introduced in some schools, banks, employers, landlords and the NHS to turning these ordinary institutions into border guards. The Know Your Rights guide seeks to support migrants and help them understand these challenges and where they can seek advice.

Abeer Suliman, a housing officer with Arhag Housing Association who is training to give immigration advice, said: "This is an informative guide for those who do not know much about the legislation in the UK. It is equally helpful for professionals and for migrants who need contacts or quick and clear advice on navigating this complex legal system."

MRN is currently challenging an NHS and Home Office data-sharing agreement, which sees patient information being handed over to immigration officials. MRN and their counsel have been given permission for judicial review and are currently crowdfunding to cover their legal costs.

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