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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Immigrants' views on asylum laws
Lunar House, Croydon
Immigration applications are processed in Croydon
As six asylum seekers win a High Court battle to overturn new legislation denying them benefits, BBC News Online canvasses opinion outside the Immigration Service's headquarters in Croydon.

Bachubhai Patel, 37, who came to the UK from Uganda aged six, was applying for a visa for his wife.

He said: "It's totally unfair to penalise people for not knowing the system.

"They don't know what to do when they get here and don't know the language.

"The government should support them initially to find jobs because then they get off benefits.

Bachubhai Patel
Mr Patel said the law was "totally unfair"
"But I can understand people who have lived here all their life getting upset - they need just as much help.

"There needs to be a European-wide policy."

Hassan Mould, 21, is applying for asylum after arriving from Algeria two months ago.

"There were terrorists in Algeria and I came here on a lorry on a boat to Dover, then came to London.

"But in January they stopped everything and there are no benefits for me.

"Life is very difficult. I stay in a hotel in Croydon and get food and a bed."

John Gould, 32, from Essex, said: "Why should other people get benefits when my wife can't?

"She is American and has worked here for two years, paying national insurance.

"But now she has had a baby, she is told that claiming child benefit would jeopardise her permanent visa application."

Fidel Batanga, 36, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said: "How can you start a life somewhere if you're not given support?

Fidel Batanga
Mr Batanga: government should support people
"People are sleeping on the road with no food.

"There's a lot of people who don't know they can claim asylum - they don't know where to go."

Eash Sethu, 28, is a doctor in Dartford, Kent, on a special visa after coming to the UK from India.

She said: "Asylum seekers shouldn't be entitled to benefits - it's a misuse of public funds.

"In the NHS, I've come across many bogus asylum seekers who cause many problems.

"They come into the hospital needing treatment after disturbances in the neighbourhood, thieving and violence."

Josephine Zvobgo, 46, from Zimbabwe, is trying to extend her student visa to study a nursing diploma at Middlesex University.

Josephine Zvobgo
Ms Zvobgo said asylum seekers should declare themselves on arrival
She said: "They should claim asylum as soon as they come here, so they can have the benefits and their case can be looked at.

"But when you go to a new country, then obviously you don't know what to do and should be told."

Younes Fassi, 23, who came to the UK from Paris five years ago, said: "It's not fair. If you're forced to live on the street, you don't want to come here at all.

"The reason you come here is to work and that's it."

He said he was frustrated because his Bulgarian wife had been refused invalidity benefit even though asthma prevented her from working.

Mr Fassi said the benefits system was so strict, he was considering moving to France with his wife.

A 29-year-old Bulgarian student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "First you have to get your status right in your new country. so the law seems fair and just.

"Saying they don't know the rules is an excuse."




SEE ALSO:
Asylum seekers win ruling
19 Feb 03 |  UK
Judge urges asylum rule suspension
12 Feb 03 |  Politics
Asylum laws 'inhumane'
20 Feb 03 |  Politics



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