As part of the Together With Refugees coalition, we are encouraging one last push to demonstrate that Oxfordshire, and indeed all of the UK, will not stand by the Nationality and Borders Bill in its original form. Substantial amendments and concessions must be agreed and passed.

Below are 12 actions you can take to make a difference in your local community. Completing even one of these actions will help make a difference for refugees and asylum seekers:

1. Write to your MP

Write to your Member of Parliament to tell them you oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill in its original form, and encourage them to approve the amendments made by the House of Lords. Here are some helpful tips:

2. Phone your MP

Follow up your letter with a phone call to your MP. If you feel stuck on what to say, use your letter as a script! Remember, even if it’s a little awkward, you have to leave a voice message or you just speak with a member of staff, you are increasing the number of contacts your MP’s office receives about the Bill.

3. Sign the Petition: ‘Oxfordshire MPs: Keep Clause 11 out of the Borders Bill’

Sign our petition to ASK YOUR MP to accept the amended version of the Borders Bill. Remember to write your constituency/the name of your MP when you sign, so we can see how many people signed from each constituency. Find out who your MP is here.

4. Get your family, friends, classmates and colleagues involved

Share this article and the petition with your peers, and invite those who are allies to write to and phone their MPs, too!

5. Make it social

Show your support on social media. Share your letter, this article and any other content that centres refugee stories and refugee rights. Use the hashtag #WhoWeAre and tag us in at @AsylumWelcome

6. Show the love

Display an orange heart on your door or in your window – this sends a message to refugees and all your neighbours that you are in solidarity with the cause.

7. Be welcoming

Write a note of welcome and encouragement to refugees, and tell them you are contacting your government officials. We will add it to our collection here. You can also visit our display of orange hearts at the Community Works and add a message to the display there. 

8. Share your story

If it is safe for you and your loved ones to do so, share your story of lived experience as a refugee in the UK.

9. Share others’ stories

If you do not have lived experience as a refugee, consider sharing some of the stories of lived experience on our website to open conversations with your friends and colleagues about the importance of amending the Nationality and Borders Bill

10. Donate 

Consider donating to an organisation supporting refugees either at home or abroad..

11. Support refugees locally

Find out about organisations local to you that are supporting refugees. If you want to find out how local groups are supporting Ukrainian refugees, check out the Oxford University Ukraine Society and Oxford Polish Association.

12. Join The Action

Join in the day of action on 21st March. More info to come…

Some background info: why the the Nationality and Borders Bill matters

The House of Commons will soon be voting on the amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill made in the third reading of the bill in the House of Lords. Retaining these amendments marks a critical step forward in building more fair and just refugee and asylum systems and protecting the dignity and rights of those seeking sanctuary in the UK. 

The situation in Ukraine has illuminated the cruelty and impracticality of the Nationality and Borders bill in its unamended form. Clause 11 of the bill, a key item eliminated by the House of Lords amendments, would place the lives of all refugees arriving from Ukraine via so-called ‘irregular’ routes at risk. Clause 11 would create a secondary tier of refugees with reduced rights in the UK defined simply by the method of arrival. Arriving via ‘irregular’ routes or passing through another ‘safe’ country prior to entry to the UK  would place refugees in this secondary tier and remove some of the fundamental rights typically given to people entering our asylum system, such as family reunification.

Given the rapid and dynamic nature of conflicts like the Ukraine crisis, and considering the lack of available direct routes to the UK at present, retaining Clause 11 would mean that nearly all Ukrainian refugees arriving would be at risk of criminalisation and social marginalisation.

This is an important and unique moment in the life of the Nationality and Borders Bill. 

Before these amendments the entire bill was up for question – ridden with multiple clauses and legislation that would systematically contravene international and national human rights law, the international refugee convention, and the ethic of welcome we hope to engender in the UK. The only way to oppose it was by calling for it to be scrapped in its entirety, which now seems an unlikely goal. The key amendments proposed by the House of Lords mark a clear pathway to blunting the sharp and cruel edge of the bill, ensuring it aligns with international expectations and law, and protecting the safety of individuals who need it most. 

Prepared by Tiger Hills and Hannah Hempstead, Advocacy Volunteers