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RLS press release on inhumane Home Office decision

In an exclusive published yesterday in the Guardian, Harriet Grant reported that the UK government intends to end family reunification after Brexit.

We have issued the following press release condemning the government's decision.


Ending Dublin family reunion would devastate the most vulnerable refugees

2 September 2019

Commenting on news that the UK government intends to end Dublin family reunion after a no-deal Brexit, Refugee Legal Support (RLS) Executive member and immigration lawyer Jennine Walker said:

“A decision to end Dublin would devastate the most vulnerable, displaced families, creating an awful uncertainty with no end in sight for refugees in Europe with close family in the UK.

“This would make a mockery of any stated commitment by the UK government to family reunification for refugees.

“Children, mothers, fathers, husbands and wives separated from their loved ones and stranded in Europe would be left with no viable legal route to be reunited with close family members in the UK if the government reneges on its international obligations before establishing a coherent alternative.

“If legal routes to the UK are closed then people will be far more likely to be forced into the hands of people smugglers, pursuing unsafe and unlawful ways to reach their families.

“This is not about immigration control - it is about humanity.”

The government has committed to arranging for unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Europe to apply to join family members in the UK after Brexit in Section 17 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, but no process has been agreed and accompanied children, parents, spouses or siblings are not provided for in the Act.

“Dublin isn’t working perfectly - there are breath-taking delays, applications have to be resubmitted many times and we often have to resort to litigation to force the Home Office to fulfil its legal obligations - but at least there is a legal process,” Jennine Walker said.

“Within the RLS clinic in Athens where we work with refugees seeking to unify with family members in the UK we see the deep distress caused to often already extremely vulnerable and traumatised people by separation from close relatives in other European states.

“The UK has legal obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and other international agreements to which it is a signatory, but without a recognised legal process such as Dublin, for any asylum seeker hoping to be reunited with a loved one these rights might as well be imaginary.”

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