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Asylum News: Nationality+ Borders Bill

 Nationality and Borders Bill

“UNHCR is concerned that the plan, if implemented as it stands, will undermine the 1951 Convention and international protection system, not just in the UK, but globally.” UNHCR

The City of Sanctuary UK movement has become increasingly concerned at the hostile and dehumanising rhetoric from the Home Office and the Home Secretary towards people seeking sanctuary. The new Bill currently going through Parliament, if enacted, will end the right to seek asylum in the United Kingdom – a right enshrined in international law more than half a century ago. Penalising people and threatening their asylum claims based on how they travel to seek asylum, rather than their need for protection, contravenes this right and undermines our history of offering sanctuary to people who need it. The UN has taken the unusual step of strongly and publicly opposing these plans and judge the Bill contravenes international law / Refugee Convention.

City of Sanctuary is in solidarity with our partners in calling the Nationality and Borders Bill the Anti-Refugee Bill  given its content.  We are working with #TogetherWithRefugees to oppose the bill which ignores the realities of why people have to flee and seek sanctuary and does not address any of the problems it purports to resolve.

City of Sanctuary UK’s website has analysis, info and updates on the Bill , including it’s progress through parliament and evidence given to Bill’s Committee. Also the campaign actions to oppose the Bill  ( see here –  https://bordersbill.cityofsanctuary.org/

The Bill’s Proposals:

  • only refugees arriving through extraordinarily restricted “official” routes, such as refugee resettlement, will be allowed to claim protection
  • will punish and criminalise people forced to take “irregular” routes to claim asylum in the UK, deeming them “inadmissible” to the asylum system and liable to prosecution. The Home office will attempt to remove them from the UK.
  • If they cannot be deported, they may be allowed to claim asylum in the UK but if they receive refugee status as a result they will not be given the right to settle. Instead, they will be regularly reassessed for removal, with limited rights to family reunion and benefits
  • The proposals also include plans to accommodate most asylum seekers in institutional centres and  the possibility also of offshore processing, thereby  amending the National Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to make it possible to move people whilst an asylum claim is pending. We have seen various reported suggestions for locations but what remains is that, as we have seen in Australia, offshore processing is an inhumane and dangerous way to treat our fellow human beings.

10th May ’21.  A new Coalition Campaign group, #Together With Refugees, has launched.

#TogetherWithRefugees brings together a coalition of more than 100 national, local, refugee-led and grassroots groups, who believe in a fairer asylum system and showing compassion to people fleeing war & persecution. The campaign is calling for upholding the ‘right to asylum’, where people can seek safety in the UK, no matter how they came here. Also that People can live in dignity while they wait to hear if they will be granted protection. More info here:  Borders Bill is expected for debate in Commons in September.

April 1. 2021  New Immigration Plan:

Last week the UK Government announced new plans for changes to the asylum system. Taken in their entirety the proposals represent an attack on the right to seek sanctuary in the UK and will do little to address the systemic, long-term failures of the system that cause such extreme hardship to people seeking sanctuary.

At a recent refugee sector meeting, convened by Asylum Reform Initiative, Jonathan Featonby (British Red Cross) helpfully summarised the main changes, see Presentation on Immigration Plan. There are also commentaries which provide further details, including Free Movement and  JCWI’s explainer.