By Hari Reed, Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

We know that the Illegal Migration Bill completed its journey through Parliament late on Monday 17th July and became an Act of Parliament on Thursday 20th July.

We know that the international community is looking on in disbelief, afraid of the knock-on effect this will have on refugee protection in other countries.

We know that the UK’s new asylum (anti-asylum?) system ‘is at variance with the country’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law’ (UNHCR).

We know that our argument is more than a general moral case for ‘doing the right thing’: it is a strong, reasoned and evidence-based argument as to why the new system will be ineffective, harmful, expensive and bound to fail.

What we still don’t know is when things will start to change, how these changes will be felt by new arrivals, which third countries the UK will try sending people to first, and how involved the courts will be in the process.

We don’t know how much of what the government has promised will be possible in reality. The people who arrive before removals agreements are in place: will they be detained indefinitely? Where? Who will run the facilities? When we run out of space on military bases and barges, what then? Will people get released on immigration bail and what will their rights be? Will the asylum hotels start closing or, conversely, will more be opening in our area? Will this all change if a new government comes into power next year? Will they really keep children locked up? How is this going to solve any of the problems we’re facing as a country?

We, as a refugee organisation, are faced with even more unanswerable questions: should we expect to see fewer clients because new arrivals will be channelled into future facilities in Folkestone, or will the numbers increase as more hotels are acquired as ‘overflow’ accommodation? If new arrivals in Oxfordshire are no longer permitted to apply for asylum, what support will we be able to provide them? What will their urgent needs be? Will we see more undocumented people, refugees and victims of modern slavery, who do not wish to make themselves known to authorities? How can we, a local charity, help people surmount the additional hurdles presented by laws designed to remove them, or even to prevent them from being here in the first place?

We know that Asylum Welcome will continue to be here for our community of displaced people, in whatever form that takes, and we will continue to strengthen that community, ready for the next challenge.

We know the Illegal Migration Act does not represent us – and that we are not alone in feeling this way. Asylum Welcome is one of 290 civil society organisations coming together to condemn the new Act and stand in solidarity with everyone affected.

If you want to join our efforts to stand up for refugees, sign up to volunteer or donate today and/or to join our mailing list here. Thank you.