Speak out about the new UK Immigration Bill
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is profoundly concerned by the asylum bill introduced by the UK Government to the House of Commons today. In its current form, the Bill compels the Home Secretary to deny access to the UK asylum system to those who arrive irregularly. Rather than being provided with protection, these asylum-seekers would instead be subject to detention in the UK, while arrangements are pursued to remove them to another country.
This is the 43rd ‘initiative’ offered by the Government since 2020. None of the previous initiatives have worked to prevent people seeking asylum from making risky journeys. What does work is opening of safe routes and issuing travel documents (not requiring biometric passports as stated in the new bill) to allow people to reach a safe country. one which is a signatory of the Refugee Convention, as quickly and easily as possible. The schemes created for people leaving Ukraine and Hong Kong (which are not asylum routes) are the only ones which currently operate in this way.
As Members and Associate Members of the Iona Community, we believe in the transformational power of community to change lives and the world.
We believe in speaking out to those who hold the power to change.
So, what can you do?
Or, write in your own words, using the tips below.
Write to UK MPs and Members of the House of Lords asking them:
- To condemn the Bill on grounds of its clear breach of the Refugee Convention and the stated potential breach of the European Court of Human Rights rulings.
- To press for the opening of safe routes to asylum and to work with UNHCR to ensure this.
- To ensure appropriate accommodation is found for all those seeking asylum and to end the use of detention except in exceptional circumstances. The UK Government should extend their highly successful pilot on alternatives to detention. These alternatives are humane, compliant with human rights and far less wasteful of public money.
- To ask what accommodation, if any, is currently in use by the Home Office for those seeking asylum. You might also want to ask if the findings of the Asylum Inquiry Scotland are being implemented by the UK Government.
Write to your Devolved Administration Representative (e.g. your MSP in Scotland), asking them:
- For a clear commitment to the Devolved Integration plans.
Ask your Scottish MSP for a commitment to the renewal of New Scots refugee integration strategy in 2023.Ask them to ensure the continuation of its grounding in Human Rights and strengthened commitment to action regarding integration from day one of arrival. (This existing provision is threatened by the new Bill and current practices of hotel detention/accommodation.) You’ll find out more about the strategy in this article from the University of Glasgow.
- What accommodation, if any, is currently in use by the Home Office for those seeking asylum. You might also want to ask if the findings of the Asylum Inquiry Scotland are being implemented in devolved administrations, where they pertain to devolved competences.
Write to your local Councillors, asking them:
- What is being done by local police and elected representatives to tackle organised far-right intimidation of people who have sought asylum and are temporarily housed in hotels.
- For assurances and published proof that assessments are being actively carried out regarding the safety of those accommodated and of local communities from far-right extremism.
- To make your town or city a City of Sanctuary.
May the God of Peace inspire us,
may the God of Justice empower us,
may the God of Hope encourage us
to live the Good News.
Go in the power of the Spirit.
Go, and do not try to separate politics and prayer.
Go, not to escape, but to engage with God’s world
Go, to live hopefully, as people of the resurrection.
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Photo credit: Mediterranean Hope Lampedusa