The Justice and Peace Co-ordinating Council has written to Priti Patel, Home Secretary to register concerns about the Nationality and Borders bill which is about to have its third reading in the House of Commons.
It is our belief that that the bill as it stands is contrary to the way that British society has acted since 2000 in accepting people with asylum among us and contrary to what we are being urged to do by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti, which calls on us to ensure that “all migrants are entitled like others to participate in the life of society”, and reminds us “that they possess the same intrinsic dignity as any person.”
The Committee stage of the Bill has come to an end; the bill will now return to the floor of the House of Commons for its Third reading. It is critical that we act now.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) have jointly published a resource on the key things to know about the bill and actions to take to oppose it. We strongly encourage people to read the full document here.
The document also includes a template letter (click on the link opposite to download) which people may wish to use to write to their MPs.
The main concerns, based on content from the template letter, are:
- Plans to differentiate between refugees based on how people got here ignore the reality of seeking asylum and are deeply cruel. People seeking asylum rarely have a choice of how they travel and the Refugee Convention, to which the UK is a signatory does not oblige them to seek asylum in the first safe country they come to. Discriminating against people obliged to arrive spontaneously will not prevent desperate people from making dangerous journeys. These plans deny the right of refugees to seek asylum and should be abandoned.
- The Bill allows for those seeking asylum to be removed from the UK while their claims are being processed, opening the door to offshore processing of asylum claims. This would be highly impractical and costly and has given rise to serious human rights abuses in other contexts where it has occurred. It undermines our commitment to processing claims fairly and offering sanctuary to refugees.
- The Bill contains proposals for the creation of asylum accommodation centres. The use of such centres is cruel, unhealthy and unsuitable and bad for integration. The asylum camp at Napier barracks is being used to trial these centres. It is prison-like and isolated and has been found by the Independent Chief Inspector to be unsafe and is also used against the advice of Public Health professionals. Consequently, the mental health of people placed there deteriorates rapidly, as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on detention recently noted.
- This legislation does nothing to create safe routes for people seeking asylum, nor does it contain a concrete commitment to resettlement; the government indeed, has made no such commitment. Our asylum system is in urgent need of reform, but this is not the way to go. We need to focus on human dignity, compassion and have a culture of protection at the heart of the asylum system.
Along with JRS and SVP the Justice and Peace Co-ordinating Council is therefore urging people to write to their MPs to speak out against these proposed changes to the asylum system and to ask that instead the UK:
- Creates an asylum system that strives to extend protection to those who need it, irrespective of how they got here.
- Commits to the establishment of safe routes for people to seek asylum.
This link will enable you to find out your MP, their address or email contact.
People may also wish to sign and share the Refugee Action petition calling on the Government to scrap the bill.