Like so many other aspects of the state, the immigration and asylum system makes a huge difference to people lives, and it’s also confusing and difficult to navigate, especially for people who often won’t have English as their first language. As ever, navigating difficult bureaucracies is no problem for those who are rich enough to pay someone else to do it for them, but, especially with the cuts to legal aid, those of us who aren’t rich just have to muddle through these life-changing bureaucratic mazes as best we can.
For this reason, the Right to Remain toolkit – which was first launched in 2013, but hugely expanded and updated in March 2016 – is an incredibly valuable resource, aiming to strip away the confusion that makes these systems so intimidating and put some power back in the hands of the people going making immigration and asylum applications. In their own words,
“Understanding the asylum and immigration system, and your own legal case, is more important than ever. Cuts to legal aid (free, government-funded legal representation) mean that more and more people have no lawyer at all and are forced to navigate this very complicated system without legal representation.
Take an active role in your legal case. The Right to Remain Toolkit will help you do this. Even if you have a lawyer, it’s important to understand your own legal case – this is your case and your life and you need to keep track of what is happening and whether the lawyer is doing the things they should be. You will also know what you and your supporters can do to help strengthen the legal case.”
If you know anyone who’s having to go through the immigration or asylum system, please point them in the direction of the toolkit. If you would like to support their work, you can make a donation, or, although they don’t mention it, I’m sure it’d be really useful to have the toolkit translated into different languages, especially widespread ones like Arabic or French, so if you have language skills and time to spare I’d recommend getting in touch with them about that. If you know any recently-arrived migrants in London, the SolFed guide for migrants is another useful resource to point them towards, and it’s available in English, Spanish and Polish.