16 April 2012

Judge rejects UK immigration change

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The UK's most senior immigration judge has delivered a ruling which directly contradicts with the Home Secretary Theresa May's promised changes to limit the use of the 'right to private and family life' clause in the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Home Secretary Theresa May's attempt to limit the exploitation of the right to family life has falled at the first hurdle.

Mrs May said last week she would make altering UK immigration law to prevent abuse of the clause a priority.

"By the summer, I will have changed the immigration rules so that we can end the abuse of the right to a family life," said Mrs May.

The right to a family life has been used by several illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in recent weeks in cases that have attracted intense amounts of criticism and scrutiny. Mrs May claims she gets "as frustrated as anybody when I see somebody who should not be in this country remaining in this country".

Mrs May had pledged to ensure that the right could only be used in 'exceptional cases'. However, in what looks set to be a landmark case, the president of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, Mr Justice Blake, has ruled that a 'settled migrant' could only be deported in instances where there were 'very serious reasons' to do so.

Mr Justice Blake's recommendation, that having a child or a partner in the UK or having lived here from a young age can strengthen an applicant’s case, a remarkably similar to the current rule.

The judge also marked his ruling as 'reported determination' which will see his decision used by other judges in a variety of immigration cases.

Mr Justice Blake's decision, in the case of a Pakistani convicted of burglary and drug dealing, is likely to spark further debate on the controversial issue.

A spokesperson for the Home Office reiterated the Government's determination to have the rules successfully updated by the summer.

"Too often Article 8 [the right to private a family life] has been used by criminals to dodge deportation and by this summer the Government will have in place new immigration rules which will end this abuse."


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