Asylum Matters Advocacy Update – 18 January 2022

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

Nationality and Borders Bill
The Nationality and Borders Bill entered the House of Lords for its second reading on 5 January for the next stage of its passage through Parliament. Refugee Action shared a useful round-up in a twitter thread of contributions from the first debate. 

Peers have tabled amendments on key issues including removing Clause 11 which would treat refugees differently based on their means of arrival, the right to work, resettlement, accommodation and family reunion. You can see the latest on the Bill’s passage through the House of Lords here and full information and updates are available on the Bill’s web page

If you would like to discuss approaches to Peers with a local connection to your area, please get in touch with your regional Asylum Matters Campaign Manager, or drop us a line at [email protected].

Fighting the #Anti-RefugeeBill in our communities

In the face of the UK Government’s determination to push through the cruel and divisive measures contained in the ‘anti-refugee bill’, communities across the country have come together to fight the bill. Many communities have put this opposition into action by successfully calling on local and devolved leaders to take a stand against the Bill. We’ve put together a round-up on our blog of all the public statements from local authorities, devolved governments and Mayors who are standing together to reject these harmful proposals. 

There are still many ways to oppose the #AntiRefugeeBill:

  • Call on your national, regional or local decision-makers to speak out publicly against the Bill. You can find a guide on how to engage your local leaders on the Bill here.
  • Call on your local Councillors or Cabinet Members to take forward a motion opposing the Bill. You can find a template motion you can use or amend here

If you’d like to chat through taking action, please get in touch with your regional Asylum Matters Campaign Manager, or drop us a line at [email protected].

Together With Refugees: Valentine’s Day Action

To build support for amendments tabled in the Lords, particularly around a resettlement target and ending the two-tier system of protection, Together With Refugees are launching a Valentine’s Day Action. Supporters are encouraged to send a Valentine’s Day card to MPs to get behind the two amendments and send a strong signal to Ministers, while building support for a more compassionate approach to refugees. Here are some ideas for how to do this and suggested messaging and TWR will add some card designs to this folder in the coming days. 

Other voices from across civil society have also been speaking up against the Bill:

  • The Euro-Med monitor has put out a statement warning that the Bill will undermine the UK’s ability to identify and protect trafficking victims. 
  • The Church Times featured opposition to the Bill from the Bishops of Chelmsford, Durham and London, who said it would be less fair, provide fewer safer routes and cost more. 
  • The Law Gazette asks whether the Nationality and Borders Bill is just another example of bad law-making. 

Right to Work

In the Bill debate last week, Conservative peer Baroness Stroud announced she would table a cross-party amendment on the right to work. She described the arguments in favour of lifting the ban as ‘incredibly compelling’ and was strongly backed by peers from all parties. The Lift the Ban coalition will be supporting those peers working on the amendment, and hope that many across the House of Lords will back it. 

MyLondon ran a powerful and comprehensive piece on the right to work shortly before Christmas, featuring interviews with people who had been affected by the ban. Also over the Christmas holidays, Lift The Ban coalition members Adam Smith Institute did a great job of making the case for change on GB News. 

Webinar for People with Lived Experience: Stop ‘Accommodation Centres’!

Asylum Matters  and Freedom From Torture are hosting a webinar on Monday 31st January, 2-4pm, for people with lived experience of asylum accommodation who want to take action to stop the development of ‘accommodation centres’ to house people in the asylum system. As Asylum Matters’ recent report has documented, we do not believe these will be suitable places for people seeking asylum to start to rebuild their lives; and we intend to campaign in 2022 to stop plans from developing any further.

If you’d like to join the campaign and have experience of ‘institutional’ accommodation, such as hotels or military barracks like those at Napier, we’d like to invite you to a webinar hosted on zoom to brainstorm how we can work together to challenge the Government and ensure that people who come to the UK in the future will have a safe and welcoming home. The event will take place on Monday 31 January, from 2-4pm. Register to take part here

  1. Research and reports 

Impunity Entrenched: Policing the Borders

The Institute of Race Relations have published a new report, Impunity Entrenched: Policing the Borders, examining border and immigration legislation and policy introduced over the past year in the UK. They have also tweeted a useful round-up of their analysis. 

JCWI Report on the Experiences of Undocumented People through the Pandemic

JCWI have released a report on the experiences of undocumented people during the pandemic, looking at financial security, work, housing and access to healthcare and highlighting how in all these areas, the Government’s Hostile Environment policies have exacerbated the effects of the COVID crisis for undocumented people. You can find the report here and share on twitter here

  1. Home Office and Government developments

Home Office consultation on Napier planning application

In August 2021 The Home Office laid a Special Development Order before Parliament which bypassed the usual planning application system, and enabled it to continue the use of the unsuitable Napier barracks as asylum ‘accommodation’ until September 2026. Nearly five months later, the Home Office has launched a consultation on the change of use at Napier, with a very short window for responses (deadline 30 January). This comes after permission was granted for a judicial review of the Government’s decision to continue the use of the site. 

Asylum Matters will be responding to this ‘consultation’: objecting to the proposal, pointing out that it comes after the fact of the decision, and asking how responses will be taken into account. We would encourage others with knowledge of the harms caused by institutional accommodation to object also and point out the decision has already been made. Please get in touch with us at [email protected] if you would like to discuss in more detail.

Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

The UK Government formally opened the Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) on 6 January 2022. The various pathways for resettlement under the ACRS are outlined here and include “Vulnerable and at-risk individuals who arrived in the UK under the evacuation programme will be the first to be settled under the ACRS.” The scheme drew criticism as it included in the 20,000 target the British nationals and their families who had already been evacuated to the UK, and the pathway for those fleeing Afghanistan would only open in Spring 2022. A parliamentary debate on the scheme was led by Jim Shannon MP who called on the Government toclarify how a four-year-long wait is justifiable when it is a matter of life or death.’

  1. Resources, events, jobs and training

Migrants’ Rights Network new leadership programme for migrants 

Migrants’ Rights Network are recruiting participants and mentors for their Migrant Aspiration Programme (MAP), a free four month online leadership training course created for anyone who has lived experience of migration. 

Webinar on supporting Afghan new arrivals in FE colleges

City of Sanctuary are hosting webinar on 27 January 1-2:30pm to provide an overview of the issues facing sanctuary seekers arriving at Further Education Colleges, with a focus on Afghan arrivals. 

Doctors of the World new pharmacy toolkit

Doctors of the World, in collaboration with the National Pharmacy Association and NHS England, have produced a new toolkit aimed at supporting community pharmacies delivering open access vaccination clinics. You can also read their new briefing on Covid passes and booster jabs for organisations in the migration sector. 

City of Sanctuary maternity support pack launch 

City of Sanctuary will be launching their Maternity Resource pack in an event on 27 January at 11am. Designed for health professionals, midwives and refugee support groups, the resource pack will be a one-stop-shop covering all areas of maternity care and the pregnancy journey for people seeking sanctuary in the UK.⁣ ⁣ 

Climate Change and Migration

IOM UK and the Center for Global Development are holding an event to discuss Climate change and migration: taking global commitments a step forward on 20 January, 2-3pm. 

BID event on solitary confinement and immigration detention

Bail for Immigration Detainees are hosting an online event on 25 January at 6pm to discuss the inhumane use of solitary confinement for immigration detention purposes and premier a short film they have made on people’s experiences of solitary confinement. 

Jobs: 

  1. What we’ve been reading and watching
  • This brilliant interview in gal-dem with Women for Refugee Women’s director, Alphonsine Kabagabo, which has some useful and inspiring advice on fighting the Anti-Refugee Bill. 
  • Human Rights Activist, Shaminda Kanapathi, who was detained by the Australian Government from 2013 to 2020, writes for Open Democracy and asks why a tennis player’s detention matters more than the fate of thousands of people seeking asylum.

 

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