A hard-sleeping migrant faces eviction from an emergency hotel by a London city council because he refuses to return to his home country.
A letter from Westminster council to the individual states that following assessments by the homeless charity Connection at St Martin’s, the council was unable to “identify a service offering that will solve their sleeping problems in the UK.”
“What we could offer is to help you explore an international reconnection. This will include organizing the trip and helping you identify and access the accommodation and support you may be entitled to in your destination country, ”the letter added.
Fears have risen that rough sleepers will be forcibly removed from the UK after the Home Office introduced a new policy last December allowing for deportation of this group.
An earlier policy in which the Home Office worked with certain charities to identify poor sleepers from European Economic Area countries who were subsequently expelled from the UK was declared illegal by the High Court in December 2017. .
Many poor sleepers, including migrants, have been given housing during the pandemic, but as restrictions are eased, housing for some of them is ending. The Westminster council has the highest number of rough sleepers in England, with an estimated one in 13 being there.
It is not known whether this case will now be referred to the Home Office for forced removal from the UK.
The Connection at St Martin’s said it had not signed the letter and opposed the policy of forcible removal of poor sleepers as a signatory to the Support Don’t Deport campaign for poor sleepers.
A Westminster City Council spokesperson said: “Westminster City Council spends over £ 10 million a year supporting poor sleepers, more than any other local authority in the UK. Our outreach teams and our valued partners work very hard to offer support and protection to those who sleep in the city. “
The spokesperson added that to date these letters had been sent to two migrants who are sleeping poorly. However, activists fear that as pandemic restrictions are eased, many more migrants who sleep poorly will face similar pressure to leave the UK.
A Connection spokesperson at St Martin’s said the charity worked with hundreds of poor sleepers to get away and stay off the streets of London. “We have taken our concerns about the letter with the local authority, as it does not represent our participation in the case, and we do not agree with the decision to evict customers from the hotels.”
Benjamin Morgan, from the Public Interest Law Center, said: “The homelessness of migrants is primarily the result of exclusionary immigration and welfare policies that make life almost impossible for many non-British citizens living in this country.
“After Brexit, it is more important than ever for councils to oppose the government’s hostile agenda by guaranteeing the social right to housing regardless of immigration status. Nobody should be told: ‘Go home or we’ll throw you out on the street.’
The Interior Ministry has been contacted for comment.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism