Asylum Matters Advocacy Update – 7 December 2021

Advocacy Update
Our fortnightly summary of ongoing advocacy initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.
  1. Ongoing advocacy

Anti-refugee bill and Channel crossings

We know that like us, many of you will still be angry and grieving following the avoidable and devastating loss of life in the Channel two weeks ago. This moment should mark a turning point towards a more compassionate approach to people seeking safety, including scrapping the harmful proposals in the anti-refugee bill that will force more people into dangerous journeys, and punish them when they get here.

We were one of more than 150 organisations to sign a statement convened by IMIX in the wake of the tragedy to call for safe routes, compassion and fairness to be at heart of the Government’s approach to people seeking sanctuary. We also rounded up a list of actions you can take in a Twitter thread to stand in solidarity and call on the Government to change its approach.

The anti-refugee bill returns to Parliament today for its Third Reading. The House of Commons Library has a useful overview of the Bill, including information on its provisions, timelines and amendments. A full list of amendments is available on the Bill’s web page under the ‘Amendment Paper’ tab.

The Government has itself tabled 80 additional last minute amendments, available in full here and summarised by Jon Featonby from the British Red Cross here. The Home Office publishes its own briefings on the Bill and the Government’s amendments here.

Campaigning and advocacy against the anti-refugee Bill has continued:

  • The Welsh Government has published a further statement opposing the Bill and expressing a range of concerns about its proposals, stating that it ‘will breach international conventions, violate basic principles of justice and will place ultimately extreme and insurmountable conditions on people who seek our protection.’ They also state that they intend to bring forward a Legislative Consent Motion in relation to the Bill’s impact on devolved responsibilities.

  • Members of the Senedd from Plaid Cymru, Welsh Labour and the Liberal Democrats have tabled a Statement of Opinion calling on the UK Government to ‘withdraw the Nationality and Borders Bill and work collaboratively to build a more humane asylum system.’

  • 56 organisations and groups including Asylum Matters have come together in Greater Manchester to make clear their opposition to the Bill.

  • Women for Refugee Women have published a legal opinion demonstrating that the Bill will  ‘disproportionately adversely disadvantage women and girls’ and that measures within the Bill are incompatible with Home Office policy, case law and international standards on refugee protection and human rights

  • The Families Together coalition have published their briefing for MPs on the Bill, asking MPs to support several amendments on family reunion.

  • Detention Action coordinated a letter to the Government opposing plans for offshoring from people who have experienced Australia’s notorious offshore camps themselves, with signatories from across the refugee sector, including Asylum Matters.

  • Médecins Sans Frontières have published a new paper in the British Medical Journal arguing that the Government’s migration policy plans will only cause more suffering and death. They are calling on the Government to rethink the approach in the Bill that imports some of the worst processes of asylum policy from other countries.

Other responses to the Channel tragedy and the anti-refugee bill:

  • The Guardian published an overview of the policies campaigners and experts say will help to stop dangerous journeys across the Channel.

  • Conservative MP and former minister Andew Mitchell writes for the Times on why the Government’s proposals for offshoring won’t work.

  • Another Conservative MP, David Davis, has also spoken out against offshoring, saying the proposals risk creating a ‘British Guantanamo Bay’.

  • SNP MP Anne McLaughlin writes for the National on why the anti-refugee bill won’t tackle the root cause of the problems in the asylum system.

  • Conservative MP David Simmonds writes in Politics Home calling for more people seeking safety to be offered resettlement and the right to work for people in the asylum system.

  • Lord Kerr of Kinlochard pointed out the flawed reasoning in the Government’s plans and its failure to offer adequate resettlement routes.

  • Daniel Trilling writes in the Guardian about the tragedy in the Channel and how it shows that a focus on security and ‘people smuggling’ won’t work to stop dangerous journeys.

  • Steve Crawshaw from Freedom from Torture writes in the Independent that we can still defeat the Bill.

Taking action against the #AntiRefugeeBill
There are still important ways to take action against the Bill:

  • Ask your Council to pass a motion: Local Councils can play a vital role in demonstrating local opposition to the Bill. You can use our new resource to ask your council to pass a motion opposing the Bill.

  • Write to your MP using our resources. We’ve updated our letter to MPs to include a section on Refugee Action’s polling to highlight the number of people in your constituency who want people seeking safety to be treated equally, regardless of their mode of arrival.

  • Use the new Together with Refugees social media assets calling for a kinder and more compassionate approach to refugees.

  1. Research and reports

Citizens Advice report on NRPF conditions

Citizens Advice have published the results of the first representative study looking at the effects of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition, How do I survive now? The impact of living with No Recourse to Public Funds. The report finds that the policy is not serving its stated objectives and makes recommendations, including a call to ultimately remove the condition from all those who are habitually resident in the UK.

Education Policy Institute report on educational outcomes

New research from the Education Policy Institute (EPI), The educational outcomes of refugee and asylum-seeking children in England, finds that asylum-seeking children who enter the UK separated from their parents are on average over three years behind non-migrant children at school by the time they take their GCSEs.

Birmingham University study on treatment of victims of gender-based violence

A new study from Birmingham University, Forced migration and sexual and gender-based violence: findings from the SEREDA project in the UK, shows how the asylum system exacerbates the trauma experienced by women and girls who are victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The report makes several recommendations, calling for a trauma-informed approach, psychological support for victims and independent advocates to sit in on asylum interviews.

  1. Home Office and Government developments

Quarterly immigration statistics

The latest quarterly immigration statistics have been published, showing an overall rise in the number of asylum applications, continuing backlogs and delays in the decision-making process and a high rate of positive decisions on asylum claims (63%). Refugee Council and Free Movement have both published full analyses of the latest figures and what they mean for the UK’s asylum and immigration system.

Consultation on immigration legal aid

The Ministry of Justice call for evidence on immigration legal aid fees and the online system has recently closed. ILPA have published their response.

  1. Resources, events, jobs and training

Activate grant for female activists

Activate has opened a fund for women activists who have started local campaigns, activities or projects to address inequalities and improve communities. The fund is for women from underrepresented communities, including working-class women, disabled women and women of colour, as well as women who have personal experience of the issue or injustice they are working to address. Deadline 17 December. Find further details and apply here

  • Right to Remain is recruiting for a Director, a Legal Officer and a These Walls Must Fall organiser. Closing date 3 January.

  • Refugee Legal Support is recruiting a Legal Director. Closing date 12 December.

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