The Home Office has been caught up in another hostile environment scandal for illegally demanding DNA evidence in family visa cases, including the families of Gurkha soldiers who serve in the British Army and Afghan interpreters working for British Armed forces.
A review identified 449 cases where demands for submitting DNA were wrongly and illegally made by the Home Office to families seeking visas, including the families of Ghurka soldiers from Nepal who have served with the British Army for over 200 years.
The review states: “The Home Office has no legal basis for requiring the provision of DNA information in support of an application relating to immigration status.”
It is believed around 130 people were forced to submit DNA and the applications for individuals and families who declined, were refused.
Sajid Javid Issues An Apology For Home Office Immigration Failures (Again)
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Home Secretary Sajid Javid was forced into issuing an apology in the House of Commons after it came to light that the Home Office had made submitting DNA a mandatory requirement, rather than voluntary, for families seeking visas.
He said: “At the end of June, it was brought to our attention that there were some immigration cases where the provision of DNA evidence had been made a requirement for issuing a visa or grant leave to remain, and it was not simply a request.
“Such demands are unacceptable. Today I want to take this opportunity to apologise to those who have been affected by this practice. The law in this context is that the provision of DNA evidence should always be voluntary and never mandatory.”
He went on to formally apologise to Gurkha soldiers and Afghan interpreters.
“In particular, I would like extend my apologies to those Gurkhas and Afghans who have been affected. The two schemes I’ve described were put in place to help the families of those who have served to keep our country safe.
And I am sorry that demands were made of them which never should have been.”
In echoes of the Windrush scandal Javid has launched a task force and helpline to provide support and assistance, to families who’s visa applications may have been impacted by the demand to submit DNA as part of their application.
Javid is also offering financial support for affected individuals and families.
Finally, Javid has also launched a review of the entire immigration system with Wendy Williams QC, the government’s Independent Advisor who investigated the Windrush fiasco, also providing oversight in this review.
Time to Reform the Home Office?
Another day. Another scandal. We don't need more apologies. We need real change. It's time for a genuinely independent public inquiry into our #immigration system and it's time for real change.
— JCWI (@JCWI_UK) October 25, 2018
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), who challenged the Home Office’s demands for DNA evidence, on behalf of its client, the Pham family, has called for a ‘genuinely independent inquiry into our immigration system’.
JCWI chief executive Satbir Singh, called on the Sajid Javid and the Home Office to do better. “Come on, Sajid Javid we can do so much better than this.”
David Lammy MP rounded on Javid and the Home Office for breaking the law and breaching human rights.
“The Home Office has broken the law. They have violated applicants’ dignity, human rights and privacy. This is big brother on the quiet. The Home Office is treating migrants like criminals, while acting criminally towards them,” said Lammy.
Amnesty UK called for root and branch reform of the Home Office.
Amnesty UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director,Steve Valdez-Symonds, said:
“The Home Office has once again been exposed as being a law unto itself. The Home Secretary needs to face up to the fact that problems in his department are systemic, chronic and deep-rooted.
“Over several decades, successive governments have consistently encouraged policies and practice which disrespect the law and harm the people directly affected.
“This dysfunctional department cannot continue to be rewarded by being given more powers while vital safeguards, such as appeal rights and legal aid, are stripped away.
“Root and branch reform is urgently needed and protections restored to keep the Home Office in check.”
This latest example of the Home Office acting illegally and breaching human rights, will add to the growing pressure to end the hostile environment policy.