Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
Refugee Ban Bill
The UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill – or the ‘Refugee Ban Bill’ – is now set to become law, having completed its passage through parliament on Monday night.
During the process, the Government made a few limited concessions, including removing the retrospective application of the duty to remove people and maintaining the 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women. However, many amendments tabled by peers – including to establish safe routes for people seeking asylum, and provide safeguards for victims of modern slavery – were defeated, as was opposition in the Commons from some senior Conservative MPs.
Outside parliament, campaigners continued to oppose the Bill right through its final stages. Actions included the expert by experience campaigners at RAS Voice writing to all MPs on the Bill; STAR, SolidariTee, Universities of Sanctuary and the VOICES Network delivering to 10 Downing Street their petition opposing the Bill; and over 150 children’s charities, faith groups and medical bodies calling on the Government to scrap their child detention plans.
This law, once enacted, places a duty on the Home Secretary to detain and remove from the UK anyone who has entered in breach of immigration laws and through a safe third country en route; and to refuse to process the asylum claim of anyone entering the UK via an irregular route. In practice, it rips up the asylum system as we know it.
In response to the Bill passing, the UN High Commissioners for Refugees and for Human Rights warned of a ‘profound impact’ on human rights and the international refugee protection system and urged the UK Government to reverse the law.
This new law constitutes the biggest attack on the rights of people seeking asylum in the UK in modern times. Although its passing is a very dark day for all people seeking safety here and all those who support them, campaigners all across the country have fought hard to protect refugees’ rights and will continue to do so. We will work to oppose the implementation and ultimately repeal these anti refugee laws.
We were proud to be among 290 organisations to yesterday publicly condemn the new law and stand in solidarity with all those who will be affected.
Campaigners can make use of our #FightTheAntiRefugeeLaws resources, including posters; placards; leaflets; postcards; and copies of the Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws Pledge. You can download print-ready versions, or get in touch with us to request resources.
More local authorities pledge to fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws
As parliamentarians have debated the regressive legislation, locally elected representatives in Sheffield and in Manchester have become the latest to publicly commit to support people seeking sanctuary. On 5 July, Sheffield City Council unanimously voted to reaffirm its status as a City of Sanctuary, and on 12 July the councillors of Manchester City Council unanimously voted to work towards becoming a Council of Sanctuary. Both councils also called on the Government to scrap the Anti-Refugee Laws; and pledged their support for the Lift the Ban campaign for the right to work for people seeking asylum.
You can watch highlights of speeches from Sheffield here, read a thread of how the day’s campaigning unfolded, and read the coverage in the Sheffield Star. Coverage of powerful speeches in Manchester by experts by experience and councillors pledging to welcome those seeking sanctuary is here and here.
Communities not Camps / No Floating Prisons
The Bibby Stockholm barge has arrived in Portland, greeted by protests on the quayside and calls by a local Conservative MP for the Government to either provide safety risk assessments or immediately halt the plans. This follows protests both in Portland, where councillors last week passed a motion condemning the plan; and outside the Home Office, with new research rebutting ministers’ claims of cost savings. It is expected that the first 50 people seeking asylum will be placed on the facility within weeks.
Braintree District Council has won permission for a judicial review of the Home Secretary’s decision to place people seeking asylum in a facility on ex-MoD land at Wethersfield in Essex. However, on the morning of the hearing, 46 people were placed in the camp. This came a day after an open letter from the council, pointing out ‘fundamental issues’ yet to be resolved at the site and ‘no satisfactory responses’ from the Home Office.
There was however good news from Tyneside, where following an open letter from local refugee organisations, councillors and residents, the Port of Tyne became the latest port to publicly confirm it would not accommodate a barge being used to house people seeking asylum.
Add your voice to torture survivors’ open letter to Portland Port’s CEO here
Get in touch with us if you’d like unbranded #CommunitiesNotCamps posters and placards
Government and parliamentary updates
Increase in asylum support rates
The Home Office has carried out an interim review of asylum support rates and has decided to increase the amount for people on Section 95 and Section 4(2) support on an interim basis to £47.39 weekly (self-catered accommodation) and £9.58 weekly (catered accommodation). This was due to be provided on top of usual payments through a one-off payment on Tuesday 18 July, with the uplifted rates due to be paid in full from Monday 24 July. The conclusion of this year’s full review is still awaited.
UK Government lodges Rwanda appeal
The UK Government has lodged an application to challenge the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the Rwanda Deal is unlawful. Court of Appeal judges must formally grant permission for the case to go to the Supreme Court. The Independent reports that the Supreme Court is not expected to hear the final stage of the legal battle until October at the earliest.
Planned rise in visa fees / health surcharge
The Prime Minister has announced plans to substantially increase visa fees and the immigration health surcharge. The surcharge will be raised from £624 to £1035 per year, with the discounted rate for students, children and youth mobility visa holders to be upped to £776 per year. Settlement, citizenship, leave to remain and citizenship applications are set to rise by ‘at least 20%’. The justification given was the need to fund public sector pay rises. Read comment from Free Movement and Migrant Voice.
Home Office updated Allocation of Accommodation policy
The Home Office has updated its allocation of accommodation policy to cover its criteria for placing people in camps at ex-military sites and on vessels.
Reports and research
NIESR research: lift the ban and save £billions
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has published new analysis, which found the UK would make astronomical savings by lifting the ban and giving people seeking asylum the right to work. The key findings of the macroeconomic analysis show that lifting restrictions on working for all people seeking asylum would each year save the Government a total of £6.7 billion; increase tax revenue by £1.3 billion; and increase GDP by £1.6 billion. The research was covered in iNews.
New NACCOM research
New research from NACCOM’s community researchers shows people who are refused asylum in the UK can face extreme hardship, including destitution, homelessness and declining physical and mental health.
New parliamentary briefing
The House of Commons Library has produced this briefing on hotels, vessels and large scale sites
MEX report on the refugee and migration sector
A new report from Migration Exchange, ‘People, power and priorities: Insights into the UK refugee and migration sector’, presents a comprehensive review of the UK refugee and migration sector and funding landscape, and identifies six key priorities for NGOs and funders working in this field.
Resources, events and training
Temporary asylum accommodation – new guide for councillors
The Migrant Champions Network has produced a new guide for local councillors supporting residents in temporary asylum accommodation. The guide looks at how councillors can use local authority powers – from equality duties and public health to child protection and food safety– to support people.
The British Red Cross is recruiting a Casework Coordinator for its Gender-Based Violence Project, closing date 19 July.
Breaking Barriers is recruiting a Senior Digital Marketing Manager, closing date 26 July.
Helen Bamber Foundation is recruiting a Casework Coordinator, closing date 27 July.
BID is recruiting a Legal Manager (Rwanda Project & Revocation Project), closing date 31 July.
STAR is recruiting a Campaigns and Advocacy Manager, closing date 9 August.
What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to
This piece covering the sentencing in criminal courts of people accused of ‘entering the UK without valid entry clearance’
A photo essay on how migration has made the NHS