As a proud asylum-supporting organisation, located in a city of sanctuary, we share the moral outrage that will be felt by people of compassion in Oxfordshire and beyond, as they learn of this government’s latest attack on the system of international refugee protection.
We believe that these proposals are not only immoral and probably illegal but unworkable. Today’s announcement offers no credible explanation as to where those seeking sanctuary will be deported – with or without due process – or how they will be treated if they can’t be deported. Most asylum seekers come from countries that even our government recognises are too dangerous to return people to and there is no evidence that anywhere else will want to receive our arrivals as well as their own. Most fundamentally, the Bill ignores the basic principle of international law that should require consideration of what people are fleeing from rather than how they get here. And, as has been said many times before, if our political leaders were as serious about stopping small boats as they claim to be, they would create safe routes, removing the need for dangerous channel crossings and putting the smugglers out of business.
What these proposals seem designed to do instead is to inflame divisions, and to propagate the dangerous idea of asylum seekers being unwelcome and illegal. Behind today’s cruel rhetoric, we see the faces of the people we support, who seek only to rebuild their lives in peace and security. We call upon politicians and the public to express their opposition to these proposals. Only if enough of us speak up, can we ensure that our values of welcome and compassion win out over the politics of division and hostility.