Walsall immigration solicitor shares insight on each party's migration manifesto

Immigration is at the forefront of voter’s minds for the 2024 General Election. It was even described as ‘The Immigration Election’ by Reform UK on the party’s latest leaflet to drop through my letterbox.

Immigration solicitor Shuhel Hussain has worked in the field since 2015 and has his own law firm in Willenhall. He has always worked and trained under Tory policy, since the party has been in power throughout his career.

When he’s not offering legal services, the Walsall ‘born and bred’ family man has his hands full raising three children under the age of four. Shuhel has spoken to BirminghamLive to share an insight into some of the promises made by each party ahead of the General Election.

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He said: “The [Conservative] manifesto is a bit vague. On immigration, in terms of small boat crossings, [Rishi Sunak] does want to stop that, as does everyone else.

“In terms of the overall net migration figures, a very small percentage comes from boat crossings. Even if you eradicate all boat crossings, that will have a very small effect on the overall net migration figures.

“With the Rwanda policy, if you've come here illegally, the aim of the government is to detain you and take you to Rwanda and process your claim there. It is costing quite a lot of money.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech to announce July 4 as the date of the UK's next general election, at 10 Downing Street in central London, on May 22, 2024 -Credit:AFP via Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech to announce July 4 as the date of the UK's next general election, at 10 Downing Street in central London, on May 22, 2024 -Credit:AFP via Getty Images

“The problem is that since they introduced this Rwanda policy, applications haven't been processed. If the Rwanda policy wasn’t in place now, those asylum seekers would have been processed and the success rate is quite high.

“Once they’re granted asylum, they go into work. I’ve seen pay slips from my clients, they’re quite high and the tax amount is quite high as well. Instead, they’re not working, they’re not paying into the system, they’re stuck in limbo and it's costing the taxpayer every day.

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“The whole Rwanda scheme, in my opinion, was ill-thought out and I think it’s very costly in terms of taxpayer’s money and with people’s lives as well.”

In the past, the Tories have pushed for the UK to exit the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). In the party’s manifesto it states ‘If we are forced to choose between our security and the jurisdiction of a foreign court, including the European Courts of Human Rights, we will always choose security.’

Shuhel said: “[If we leave the ECHR], it’s going to be difficult. We’re going to be stuck in constant litigation for a number of years, like we have done for the Rwanda policy. At the very least it’s costly to the taxpayer. These laws were put in place for the good of people.”

Shuhel is calling for a reduction in application fees for migrants, which he says are so unaffordable now, that many people apply for it to be waived.

He said: “The government shoots itself in the foot, because it’s an unreasonable amount of money. The applicants fill in a fee waiver application and the fee is often waived. The price has gone up, but less people pay. I would like to see any future government think about reducing these fees, so they’re more likely to pay them as opposed to applying for waivers, which are nearly always granted.”


Labour has promised to up-skill workers in the UK to address employment gaps, hoping to end reliance on overseas workers. Shuhel said: “The Conservatives tried to do this as well, there are practical issues with it.

“It's very difficult because it's the choice of young adults in this country to actually go into work and go into the right vocation. The government can encourage workers to go into certain trades, for example, a few years ago they were granting nurses free education.

“They stopped that and now we have a shortage of nurses and carers in the UK. So if they just continued to provide nurses with free tuition fees, that would have helped to reduce that.

“In the long term, we need more incentives for British kids to actually go into certain vocations.”

Shuhel added that the UK has always relied on migrant workers: “My own grandfather, from East Pakistan, worked in a factory in Birmingham and my great grandfather worked in a factory in Darlaston in the fifties. I think the UK will always need migrant workers but I also agree to train more home-grown talent.”

Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer -Credit:Pete Stonier
Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer -Credit:Pete Stonier

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems have promised to provide safe and legal routes for refugees coming to the UK, in order to prevent dangerous Channel crossings. Shuhel explains: “There are very limited safe and legal routes for refugees coming to the UK. When Syrian refugees came here, it was available to only a handful, the same with Eritrean refugees.

“To do these schemes on a large scale is possible, but they need to figure out the costs. In the long run, it’s cheaper to process people outside of the country and grant them refugee status because they could start work straight away and start contributing to the economy."

Another promise from the Lib Dems was to tackle the backlog of applications by establishing a dedicated unit to improve the speed of asylum decision. They would introduce a standard of three months for all but the most complex claims.

Shuhel described promise as ‘unreasonable and unrealistic', he said: “You would need an army of case workers, working day and night, to process the backlog and new claims within three months.

“There’s been a backlog of asylum claims since before the Conservatives came into power. If I process a claim today, that person can expect to have an interview in 9 months, then a claim can take up to 12 months. That has been a norm for immigration lawyers.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey during a visit to Sennen in Cornwall -Credit:Matt Keeble/PA Wire
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey during a visit to Sennen in Cornwall -Credit:Matt Keeble/PA Wire

The Green Party

Greens have promised to replace the Home Office with a new Department of Migration, separating this function from the criminal justice system. Shuhel said: “They want to replace an entire department with something else?

“How long would that take? The policy itself is vague. Making changes in the UK takes a lot of time and takes a lot of money. It might be more prudent to keep the Home Office and introduce policies which fit in with the party.”

Currently, asylum seekers who are awaiting their decision are not allowed to work. The Green Party wants to change this and allow them to access employment while they wait for their decision.

Shuhel said: “The average voter is for productivity. If an asylum seeker whose claim is pending is working, then the taxpayer isn’t paying for them every week to live.

“He or she can contribute to society and in my opinion it’s good for the economy. I’m 100% for that. However, this will have an effect on future asylum seekers, so they will have to be very careful with this policy.”

Reform UK

Reform UK has promised that those entering the UK from a safe country will be barred from claiming asylum. The party also promises to ‘pick up illegal migrants out of boats and take them back to France’.

Shuhel said: “They need to agree that with France, so good luck with that. I think it’s easy for political parties to have claims put on their leaflets but to actually practically follow through with these claims is very difficult.

Leader of Reform UK, Nigel Farage -Credit:Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP
Leader of Reform UK, Nigel Farage -Credit:Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP

“In a practical sense all this is going to result in is a back and forth between the UK and the safe third country, no one will want to take responsibility, in that time, the person is left in limbo, the UK the taxpayer will be paying for it anyway. It’s not well thought out.

“The UK is part of the Geneva Convention, meaning they should provide asylum to people who fear returning to their country of origin. Under the convention, it doesn’t matter if someone arrived here legally or illegally, under the convention, the UK is obligated to provide asylum and shelter.”

Three migration policies Shuhel wants to see from the next UK government

Lower immigration fees: “If it was a more manageable rate then the fee would be paid.”

More enforcement on immigration fraud: “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of immigration advisers who provide questionable advice to people. There are a lot of victims of unregulated advisors, I’d like to see the next government form a strategy to tackle this. It’s quite concerning.”

And finally, a faster asylum process: “I want them to process asylum seekers quicker so we’re not paying for hotels and maintenance for years. Then they can start working and become productive members of society.”