Mayor of London and charities rally against plans to deport foreign rough sleepers

London mayor Sadiq Khan has backed calls from charities and councils for the government to scrap its “deeply immoral” plans to deport foreign rough sleepers.

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London mayor @SadiqKhan has backed calls from charities and councils for the government to scrap its “deeply immoral” plans to deport foreign rough sleepers #UKhousing

Mr Khan, along with 27 other signatories, has written a letter to home secretary Priti Patel and housing secretary Robert Jenrick urging the government to scrap new immigration rules that will see migrant rough sleepers have their leave to remain cancelled or refused, resulting in deportation.

The rules, announced in late October, will come into force on January 1 2021 and have been labelled “unacceptable and cruel” by homelessness charities.

Mr Khan warned that the measures will deter already vulnerable people from seeking help in rebuilding their lives off the street and put them at greater risk of exploitation and infection from COVID-19.

Signatories of the letter include the likes of Crisis, Homeless Link and the Migrants’ Rights Network, as well as representatives of London Councils.

It comes after shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire wrote to Mr Jenrick urging him to extend the Everyone In scheme.


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Mr Khan said: “The injustice and cruelty exhibited by the proposed new immigration laws is a chilling reminder of how the most vulnerable people in our society can be targeted when those in power don’t believe anyone will notice or care.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, described the plans as “counterproductive”, suggesting that they will not end rough sleeping but “only serve to dehumanise and criminalise people for having a place to call home”.

Mr Khan said the Everyone In scheme resulted in very low COVID-19 infection rates among homeless people in London but without additional measures that allow people to self-isolate, there is a risk that infection rates will “soar” in future.

To prevent this, the letter set out five key proposals:

  1. Scrap plans for rough sleeping to become grounds for refusal or cancellation of permission to be in the UK
  2. Suspend all immigration-based exclusions from welfare and homelessness assistance to adapt to these exceptional times
  3. Take action to prevent European Londoners from becoming undocumented by extending the deadline to apply for settled status
  4. Take all necessary measures to avoid pushing refugees and asylum seekers into homelessness
  5. Properly fund self-contained, COVID-secure accommodation, which we know is the safest way to protect those who would otherwise be sleeping rough from both the pandemic and the winter weather

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been approached for a response.

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