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 Committee Stage of the Nationality and Borders Bill in the House of Lords has now concluded; you can find an overview of the different elements of the Bill and when they were debated here. Praxis and Safe Passage have shared highlights of the debates on twitter, while JCWI has published a useful blog looking at what’s happening with the Bill.
Report Stage of the Bill, when amendments are voted on, is scheduled for 28 February, 2 March and 8 March. You can keep track of which amendments have been tabled here; so far, this includes amendments to remove clauses on the differentiated treatment of refugees, inadmissibility and offshoring.
We have produced a template letter to Peers, which you can use and adapt to contact any Peers you know of with a local connection to your area or who have an interest in migration, asylum and refugee issues.
A Warm Welcome? Stand up for Afghan Refugees & Scrap the #AntiRefugeeBill
Today, 15th of February, marks six months since Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban, destroying lives and forcing people to flee. To mark the day, Asylum Matters is asking partners to share a new unbranded video entitled “A Warm Welcome?” which highlights the Government’s inadequate response to supporting Afghan refugees and calls out its harmful plans to punish Afghans under the #AntiRefugeeBill.
You can download the video here, and the accompanying email your MP action is available here. You can retweet Asylum Matters here; otherwise some sample tweets are in the social media guide here: we’re using the hashtag #AWarmWelcome, as well as #AntiRefugeeBill, and others relating to #Afghanistan. You can also find a blog with more info on why we’ve chosen to mark the day on our website. If you’d like to hear more about our upcoming plans on Afghanistan please get in touch with Jen at [email protected].
Advocacy against the #AntiRefugee Bill has continued:
Together with Refugees has published a new report ‘A Bill at What Price?’ which calculates that implementing the Nationality and Borders Bill will result in £2.7bn additional costs to the taxpayer. The report has been covered in outlets including the Guardian and the Telegraph. TWR has also created an infographic showing a breakdown of the costs and suggested messages for partners to share on social media.
Together with Refugee’s Valentines Day Action saw people across the country finding creative ways to share Valentine’s Day messages with their MPs, including Abbey School in Erdington, Caritas Shrewsbury and many more which you can view on the TWR twitter feed.
Rape Crisis Scotland alongside 17 local Rape Crisis centres across Scotland released a statement in opposition to the Bill;
Freedom From Torture put out this video on Twitter to defeat Clause 11;
Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, has written an Op-Ed in Pink News warning that the Bill will create further trauma for LGBTQ+ people seeking sanctuary;
Sir John Major, the Conservative former Prime Minister, criticised the Bill in a speech to the Institute for Government, saying measures to criminalise refugees are ‘punishment without compassion’.
Fighting the Anti-Refugee Bill in our communities
Communities across the country continue to oppose the Bill, with the Mayor and Bishop of Liverpool joining other local leaders in urging the Home Secretary to drop the Bill. Liverpool City Council also released this powerful video statement from the Mayor.
You can find a round-up on our blog of all the public statements from local leaders so far, and if you’d like to 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 and a template council motion 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].
Lift the Ban
During Committee Stage of the Nationality and Borders Bill, Conservative peer Baroness Stroud announced she will table a cross-party amendment to the Bill 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; Refugee Action have shared a twitter thread with highlights from the debate.
Richard Robinson, Chair of Surrey Heath Conservatives, has also called to #LiftTheBan in his piece in Conservative Home, stating “At the heart of Conservative values is the belief that each individual should have the freedom to support themselves, and to go as far as their own efforts will take them.”
2. Home Office and Government developments
Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Detention have visited Napier Barracks to gather additional evidence on current conditions there, while campaigners have warned that the Home Office’s additions of picnic tables and recreational activities do little to improve living conditions at the camp.
Channel Crossings Convictions Quashed
The Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of seven people seeking asylum who were wrongly jailed for steering dinghies across the English Channel. Court of Appeal judges threw the convictions out on Tuesday because of the same ‘error of law’ that saw five other cases overturned last year.
Supreme Court Ruling on Child Citizenship Fee
The Supreme Court has recognised that the £1,012 charged for child citizenship fees is far above the administration cost of registering them as British citizens (£372); but concluded that Parliament had allowed the government to set a fee above the ability of applicants to pay. This means the Home Office will continue to profit from child citizenship fees unless it changes its policy or until Parliament acts. The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), which brought the case, will campaign for the fee to be changed via an amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill.
3. Resources, events, jobs and training
Right to Remain guide to the asylum inadmissibility rules
Right to Remain have produced this important resource and explainer on the latest developments on asylum ‘inadmissibility’ rules.
LGBTQ+ asylum seeker housing needs report
Displaced People in Action and Glitter Cymru have published a report on the housing needs and experiences of LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum, the first of its kind in Wales.
Migrant Aspiration Programme (MAP) seeking mentors
Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) has received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to develop the Migrants Aspiration Programme (MAP). The programme will seek to support the development of potential migrant leaders by developing their roles as community leaders, board members, trustees and political leaders within their own communities.
MRN are currently searching for mentors and are particularly looking for individuals with prior work or volunteer experience in the migrant sector, advocacy and other related fields. You can find more information and the application form on the MAP page.
Free public transport pilot for people seeking asylum in Wales
From 1 February until 31 March, all people seeking asylum will be entitled to free bus and train travel in Wales, as part of a Welsh Government pilot. Details of how to access the scheme are in this flyer.
Refugee Action is recruiting for a Senior Parliamentary Officer, deadline 21 February.
Doctors of the World is looking for a maternity cover for their Associate Director of Research.
Maternity Action is recruiting for a part time Operations Manager, deadline 20 February.
4. What we’ve been reading…
This brilliant column in Prospect Magazine by Jason Thomas-Fournillier from RAS Voice on the impact the language and reality of the #AntiRefugeeBill is having on his family;
And this piece in Dazed Digital on Flee, an Oscar-nominated animated documentary that follows 5 years in the life of an Afghan refugee.