People targeted by immigration enforcement are being wrongly detained or even deported because of government failures to comply with its legal duty to supply vital information it holds on them, lawyers and campaigners have told The Independent.
Solicitors working in the field have accused the Home Office of preventing access to justice because it is “routinely failing” to respond to requests to hand over files containing clients’ immigration histories, leaving them unable to challenge its decisions.
Under data protection law, any person can request their personal data from an organisation or public body by submitting subject access requests (SAR), which must be responded to within one month. If the organisation requires extra time, it must contact the requester to inform them of this.
But in the case of immigration-related requests, the Home Office is said to be repeatedly failing to meet this deadline, and often not responding unless they are threatened with litigation.
Experts said this was a “massive detriment” for people trying to prove or regularise their status, particularly if they do not have the ability to pay an immigration solicitor.