After Surviving London’s Grenfell Tower Disaster, Immigrants May Face Deportation

 A number of survivors from London’s Grenfell Tower tragedy last June, which saw at least 71 people die in a tower block blaze caused by poor fire safety measures, may now face deportation after the deadline for applying for an immigration “amnesty” passed on Jan. 31. There is also a risk that family members might be investigated and deported.

Undocumented migrants living in Grenfell Tower were offered an amnesty period of a year, provided they applied before this deadline. Critics say the deadline was inadequately publicized and that the process risks hampering the forthcoming inquiry into the fire by potentially discouraging and preventing residents from giving evidence.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced in Parliament just after the fire that she would not use the tragedy as a way to clamp down on residents’ immigration status. She then performed a U-turn and undocumented immigrants were promised only the year-long amnesty.

“The Justice4Grenfell campaign is outraged that survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire who have core participation status in the upcoming public inquiry could face the possibility of deportation,” said a spokesperson for the campaign, which developed immediately after the fire tragedy.

“Immediately after the disaster Theresa May said no one should feel scared about coming forward. Then Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis announced a pitiful one-year amnesty for undocumented migrants living in the tower. Now he has said survivors can apply for permanent residence, but only after a five-year period of regular observation by the state.”

Justice4Grenfell campaigners are deeply concerned about May’s inability to stick to her promises and the impact of her decision on the inquiry. They say residents who manage not to be deported will still be afraid of being identified and may decide to stay silent.

“This constant shifting of the immigration policy has meant that people will not come forward with crucial information for the public inquiry and the criminal…

Read more