As you may know, on 24th March the government published a plan to reform the immigration and asylum system. We have until 6th May to respond to this plan. The government will then take steps to implement the final plan. We don’t know how long it will take but some parts will happen before others.
Asylum Welcome are concerned that these plans will make it harder for asylum seekers to come in the future, and harder to stay, other than through official resettlement schemes such as the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS) that has just finished. We are challenging the new government’s plans and encourage you to do so too.
The plan is over 50 pages long and we can’t summarise it all here. Among the parts that cause us concern, are the intention to:
- Treat people who don’t arrive through official resettlement programmes as “illegal.”
- Where possible send “illegal” arrivals back to countries through which they have passed on their way to the UK or to other “safe” countries (note, they can only do this if these countries agree to accept them, and at the moment none have).
- Tighten the definition of having a “well-founded fear of persecution” which is the fundamental test of who is allowed to stay.
- House all illegal arrivals in new accommodation which is still to be built.
- Reduce benefits and appeal rights for “illegal” arrivals, give them only temporary leave to remain, which is reviewed regularly, and reduce their right to reunify with their family members.
- Increase the number and speed of deportations.
If these policies are introduced, they will apply to all new arrivals who seek asylum, other than the people coming on resettlement schemes. They won’t affect people who already have status. We don’t know if or how they will be applied to people who are already here whose cases are still being heard. Nothing will happen in the next few months and we would then expect the government to publish more detailed plans.
As Asylum Welcome we know that many refugees fleeing harm or persecution have no choice but to travel on their own and to enter the U.K. by what are being called “illegal“ means. We reject the two-tier system for people being treated as legal and illegal. We intend to work with clients, supporters and other organisations to challenge the plans.
If you can read English you can see the full plan here. This includes a link to the consultation where everyone is able to give their views.
We also want to be able to publish your views and stories so you and the voice of refugees can be heard. If you want to be part of this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to your contact in Asylum Welcome who will help.
If you have specific queries or for more information ask one of us, email email@example.com or look at our website.
Finally, please don’t be alarmed. Nothing is going to happen immediately, and we don’t know how the rules will affect people already here whose cases are already being processed.