Muhammad Ali has died. Why should his death have such an effect upon me (and others)? Sometimes, it takes a great mans’ death to seek to know more about him.
Muhammad Ali was not only a boxing legend: outside the gym and boxing ring he was also well known for his stance on justice, equality and civil rights. These are surely matters that immigration campaigners, immigration and human rights lawyers deal with on a day to day basis? Defending the rights and freedoms of ordinary people? We stand for something in our profession: fairness, justice, seeking to right a wrong. That too, among other things, is what Muhammad Ali also stood for.
I remember Mrs Theresa May saying on 6 October 2015, “And my message to the immigration campaigners and human rights lawyers is this: you can play your part in making this happen- or you can try frustrate it…”. ;http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-s-speech-to-the-conservative-party-conference-in-full-a6681901.html
Rather than play along, by whatever means or in whatever ways suggested by Mrs May, without due regard to the resulting harsh consequences upon those coming to the UK to seek protection or those families being torn apart by legislation and rules introduced by the UK Government, Mrs May seems to have forgotten that for immigration lawyers, there is another option. To borrow from Muhammad Ali,
“There is another alternative and that alternative is justice”.
What then can immigration lawyers learn from Muhammad Ali? Would I really need his tenacity, boldness, bravado and armoury simply to prepare and submit a straightforward family life human rights application to the Home Office? But remember, an application one might have thought would pose no significant problems might be refused by the Home Office …………. without a right of appeal. Therefore in matters of research, presentation, anticipatory preparation, even in “straight forward” applications, immigration lawyers too can learn to “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. Sometimes, it is the case that skilful preparation and presentation in its initial stages, will ultimately determine the success of a case on appeal, remembering also, to those who will, that it really may be that “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
A person practicing in immigration and human rights law may at times chose to view and accept the job as a nine to five one. It is just that in some cases- a choice. Muhammad Ali approach was, ‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ A lawyer’s preparatory approach is not going to require physical prowess but a calculated focus on the goals to be achieved, which would also require a constant intellectual sharpening of skills, be they research, analytical or exercise of judgement. In this regards, problem solving requires creative skills such that sometimes, the answer may not be so obvious and will require a lawyer to think out of the box bearing in mind that, “A man who has no imagination has no wings.”
One can thus chose to make an impact in this area of law, potentially affecting not just that one client but others too as in:
- SM and Qadir v Secretary of State for the Home Department (ETS – Evidence – Burden of Proof)  UKUT 00229 (IAC);
- PD and Others (Article 8 – conjoined family claims) Sri Lanka  UKUT 00108 (IAC);
- Mandalia (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent)  UKSC 59;
- MM v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 985;
- MF (Nigeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department,  EWCA Civ 1192;
- Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 45;
- R (on the application of Baiai and others) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant)  UKHL 53;
- Beoku-Betts (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 39;
- Huang (FC) (Respondent) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant) ( UKHL 11).
The lawyers involved in these and other important cases took risks and accomplished something – “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
An immigration lawyer might look at a refusal decision and hear the words, “ impossible to challenge”. That may be what some of the lawyers who handled the above cases might have heard but that did not stop them. As Muhammad Ali would say “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Surely, approaching matters as Muhammad Ali might, as regards that home office application, the pending appeal before the Tribunal, the judicial review claim right through to the Court of Appeal and even that Supreme Court challenge, “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it“!