Immigration status fears hindering Grenfell Tower victims search, MPs told
Communities Secretary says fire victims will not be reported to the Home Office irrespective of their immigration status.
Immigration concerns are still resulting in people sleeping rough and not coming forward following the Grenfell Tower fire, MPs have heard.
Labour’s Emma Dent Coad (Kensington) made the claim just days after Prime Minister Theresa May said the tragedy will not be used to carry out immigration checks on those affected or on those providing “vital” information to identify victims or to assist the criminal investigation.
Ms Dent Coad asked Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to make a firm commitment that “traumatised and frightened people have no fear in coming forward”.
Speaking in response to a Commons statement from Mr Javid, Ms Dent Coad said: “I’ve heard this morning, shockingly, that people who have concerns about their immigration status or lack of documentation are still not coming forward and sleeping rough.
“Some have been told that they might not be eligible for housing and medical services, and may be reported to the Home Office.
“Will you please make a firm commitment now and communicate widely that immigration status will not be a barrier to help for medical, housing services or they will be reported to the Home Office, and that traumatised and frightened people have no fear in coming forward.”
Mr Javid replied: “I can absolutely give you that assurance.
“We have already made it clear that anyone coming forward, any information they provide either Government or local government will not be used for any kind of immigration check.
“It’s been put in a letter that’s been given to every family that has been affected.
“If you have some further suggestions about how we can get that message out, because I think we should follow up on those, I’d be very happy to listen.”
Mr Javid later said those victims with immigration concerns should be treated “more favourably” after he was pressed to fast-track them for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Labour’s Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley) said: “Having worked with people with a very fragile immigration status who have suffered trauma, until people have a stable immigration status they will never feel safe to speak out.
“So in (Mr Javid) asking what we can do, we could give those people a message today that we will fast-track them for indefinite leave to remain with access to public funds, in order they can go through the inquiry without fear or favour.
“Will you agree to that?”
Mr Javid replied: “I think it’s a very important point that those people, those victims who feel they have some challenges with their immigration status, I think we can show appropriate sensitivity and treat them more favourably.”