Officials announce immigration 'amnesty' for Grenfell fire survivors



On Wednesday, the U.K. government announced it will waive immigration rules for all foreign nationals directly impacted by the Grenfell Tower fire in London for the next 12 months, NPR reported.

The 12-month suspension means the Home Office will not conduct checks on residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, the Guardian explained. It will also not check the status of anyone coming forward to provide information to authorities.

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis reportedly told MPs the suspension of immigration rules was put in place to protect those who were too afraid to speak with authorities due to their unresolved immigration status, the Guardian noted.

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Vigils and tributes to victims of London apartment fire
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Vigils and tributes to victims of London apartment fire
A man looks at a message wall near the scene of the fire which destroyed the Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, west London, Britain June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
A man gestures as people write messages on a wall near the scene of the fire which destroyed the Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, west London, Britain June 15, 2017. . REUTERS/Paul Hackett TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Missing person signs are displayed close to Grenfell Tower block, which was destroyed in a fire,west London, Britain June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
A woman writes on a message wall near the scene of the fire which destroyed the Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
People light candles at a prayer vigil outside Notting Hill Methodist Church close to the tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
People light candles at a prayer vigil outside Notting Hill Methodist Church close to the tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15: A Girl prays as a minute's silence is observed, taken on June 15, 2017 in London, England. Local residents and well-wishers gather at a short vigil outside Notting Hill Methodist Church near the scene of the Grenfell Tower Fire Disaster in which so far seventeen people have been reported killed, with dozens injured, many still missing and scores of people rendered homeless. PHOTOGRAPH BY Paul Davey / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Paul Davey / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15: A woman is overcome with emotion - many local residents had friends and families in Grenfell Tower, taken on June 15, 2017 in London, England. Local residents and well-wishers gather at a short vigil outside Notting Hill Methodist Church near the scene of the Grenfell Tower Fire Disaster in which so far seventeen people have been reported killed, with dozens injured, many still missing and scores of people rendered homeless. PHOTOGRAPH BY Paul Davey / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Paul Davey / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A child holds candles outside Notting hill Methodist Church following the blaze at Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London on June 15, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 17 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15: A man writes a message 'babies thrown from buildings (why) in 2017', on June 15, 2017 in London, England. In the aftermath of a fire that raged through a residential tower block, Grenfell Tower, in Kensington, West London that has claimed twelve lives so far, with many more missing and left hundreds homeless and injured. PHOTOGRAPH BY Paul Davey / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Paul Davey / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: People attend a vigil at Notting Hill Methodist Church near Grenfell Tower on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least 17 people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Flowers are left on a fence near Grenfell Tower on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least 17 people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Poster for missing people are seen on a wall near Grenfell Tower on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least 17 people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Tributes and messages of condolence for the victims are seen on a wall near to the site of the Grenfell Tower fire on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least 17 people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hugs a resident while visiting Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London which was gutted by a blaze on June 15, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 17 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Two women embrace after writing messages on the wall of condolence following the blaze at Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London on June 15, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 12 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hugs councillor Mushtaq Lasharie as he arrives at St Clement's Church in west London where volunteers have provided shelter and support for people affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower, on June 15, 2017 in West London, England. (Photo by David Mirzoeff - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: People write tributes and messages of condolences for the victims on a wall near to the site of the Grenfell Tower fire on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least twelve people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Prays are said and candles are lit outside Notting Hill Methodist Church near the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road, West London on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze, while at least 50 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14: The Grenfell Tower catches up fire on June 14, 2017 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A woman lights a candle outside a church near a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
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"The government has already stated publicly that the Home Office will not use the tragedy as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those involved, and that all victims, irrespective of their immigration status, will be able to access the services they need," a document sent out by the Home Office read.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, told the Guardian that while she is pleased with the announcement she does not believe it goes quite far enough in protecting victims.

"I'm pleased to see the government has met the request I raised in the Commons on Monday for an immigration amnesty for Grenfell survivors," she said. "But this does not go far enough to ensure the confidence of those affected. Why would they volunteer their details knowing that in just 12 months they could face deportation? The amnesty must be indefinite to be truly effective."

The local government's response to the fire has come under heavy criticism for its slow and lackluster rehousing program. According to NPR, since the fire, 139 families have been offered homes, however only 14 had been accepted and just three had moved in. Many of the families rejected the temporary housing as they would prefer something permanent nearby, BBC reported. It added that many families also rejected housing because the accommodations were not suitable "due to the size, location and disabled access."

According to NPR, authorities expect the recovery operation to continue until the end of the year.

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