Asylum seekers appeal to social services

Social services departments are already facing demands to
support asylum seekers who are no longer eligible for support under
new rules in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act,
writes Clare Jerrom.

Homelessness charity Shelter has called on Leeds social services
to undertake a community care assessment on an asylum seeker with
severe mental health problems, who was suicidal and sleeping rough
in a car park.

Shelter claims the Cameroonian applied for asylum after two
days, but the new legislation means asylum seekers are only
eligible for support from the National Asylum and Support Service
if they apply ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’.

Voluntary organisations condemned the legislation, and
Birmingham Selly Oak MP Lynne Jones tabled an early day motion in
the House of Commons opposing the government’s decision,
which was was signed by 24 MPs.

Margaret Lally, deputy chief executive of the Refugee Council,
said: “We are seeing clients who have been in the country for as
little as 24 hours, who are being turned down for support because
it took them a day to claim asylum.”

Meanwhile Mr Justice Kay ordered urgent hearings in the high
court of two test cases attacking the new legislation. He warned
the courts could soon face a flood of similar challenges.

The cases, to be heard on 31January or the first subsequent
available date, involve a woman from Rwanda who failed to apply for
asylum immediately, and an Iranian, who arrived in the UK hidden in
a lorry.

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