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New Borders Bill: Asylum Welcome’s first reaction

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

By Mark Goldring,

Director, Asylum Welcome

As expected, the Government has published the Borders Bill today to implement the changes to our asylum system first announced in a draft plan in March. Since then, there has been an official consultation process, but this seems to have been completely ignored. The consultation outcome hasn’t been published and the proposals haven’t changed.

The concerns of Asylum Welcome remain those that we fed into the consultation. We support the commitment to crack down on money-making people smugglers but don’t think the Bill will do this. What it will more effectively do is turn people fleeing violence and persecution into criminals, so breaching their fundamental human right to seek sanctuary, and denying them many of the very limited benefits they currently have.

We welcome the broad commitment to continue resettlement programmes, but note that we still have no numbers or even a commitment to increase the very modest current size of these. And we reiterate that such programmes are a complement to, not a replacement for, a proper asylum programme. Most refugees simply can’t even get to the places where they might have an outside chance of being among the less than 1% selected for such programmes.

The bill presents the refugees as the problem. What it should do is look at opening more safe passages that don’t require the use of smugglers. And it might focus closer to home on why delays and waiting lists to process claims are ten times as great as they were a decade ago, and why the number of successful appeals has increased significantly, perhaps together showing that the much-publicised abuse of the system isn’t quite what it seems.

We have been in touch with all local MPs and many Councillors in recent months. In the next few days we will work with the hundreds of other like-minded agencies that are part of the Together With Refugees campaign to understand and plan next steps linked to the parliamentary process and seek your active involvement in challenging this Anti-Refugee Bill.