Advocacy update – 1 August 2023

Our fortnightly summary of advocacy and campaigning initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources from across the asylum, refugee and migration sector. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.
  1. Advocacy and campaigning initiatives

Refugee Ban Bill

The United Nations has urged the UK Government to halt the introduction of the Illegal Migration Act and repeal the legislation in full, stating that provisions in the Bill risk undermining the UK’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law.

There has been continued strong and visible opposition from across the sector following the passing of the new law. Organisations including Rainbow Migration, Women for Refugee Women, Rene Cassin, Praxis and Liberty submitted a petition to 10 Downing Street.  JCWI and other organisations have coordinated an open letter to the Prime Minister for members of the public to state their rejection of the Illegal Migration Act being passed in our name -you can add your name and also share on social media using these graphics.

Fight the anti-refugee laws

As we continue to fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws and begin to oppose the implementation of the new Illegal Migration Act, it’s also important to recognise how much our communities and local leaders have mobilised, and our growing collective strength and power. Read our new blog on fighting the #AntiRefugeeLaws in our communities.

You can also use our campaigning resources for ideas on how to call on your Local Authority to take action, or get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss approaching your Local Authority.

Communities not camps

Concerns around fire safety have delayed the placing of people seeking asylum on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, although arrivals are expected this week. An Independent investigation has found people will have less living space than an average parking space.

Plans to place people at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire are also facing delays, after it emerged that necessary surveys have not been conducted, with the Home Office accused of “failing to do basic research”. Meanwhile, local residents have described the newly opened camp on the military base in RAF Wethersfield, Essex, as being “like a Stalag”. There are currently just under 50 people seeking asylum onsite.

Reports state that the Home Office has bought marquees to accommodate 2,000 people at disused military sites by the end of August, as part of Government emergency plans to deal with an expected increase in Channel crossings.

ITV Wales has filmed a programme on the plans to house people seeking asylum in hotels in Furnace, Llanelli and Northop Hall, Flintshire, featuring interviews with people with lived experience of the asylum system and local campaigners. The Stradey Park hotel in Llanelli was granted a high court injunction on Thursday to curb protests.

Take action:

  • Write to your MP and let them know there is one safe place to house people seeking safety — as an integral part of local communities that are equipped to welcome them.

  • Sign the petition calling on the Government to drop the plans.

  • Add your name in support of torture survivors’ letter to Portland Port’s CEO.

  • Get in touch if you’d like unbranded #CommunitiesNotCamps posters and placards.

Migrant healthcare charge increase

Asylum Matters was proud to join 60 migration organisations and trade unions in signing a statement opposing the Government’s plans to fund a public sector pay rise by raising healthcare charges and visa fees for migrants.

A statement of solidarity, against the use of racist charges to fund public sector pay rises, remains live for individuals to sign. GMIAU has also issued this statement which others are asked to share, and this petition has been created in support of those directly impacted.

 

  1. Government and parliamentary updates

Home Office annual review of asylum support rates

The Home Office is carrying out its annual review and asking organisations to submit their views regarding the current weekly rate of £47.39; and £9.58 for those in full board accommodation.

The deadline for submissions is 13 September. We will be providing a resource in the coming days to provide guidance and suggestions to support partner organisations’ responses.

Court rulings

Three recent High Court rulings have each found against the Home Secretary. Asylum support payments delays, and the withholding of additional payments to pregnant women and children in hotels for healthy food, was found to be unlawful. Full ruling here.

The Home Secretary was also ordered to change the rules that restricted support, such as housing and counselling, to victims of trafficking. Finally, the ‘routine’ housing of children in hotels by the Home Office was also found to be unlawful.

  1. Reports and research

Right to Remain Toolkit

The Right to Remain Toolkit, providing guidance on the UK’s migration and asylum system, is 10 years old this year. To mark the occasion the team carried out a reflection exercise with regular users and shared the findings in this new report.

New Refugee Council report

The Refugee Council has published a report setting out policies to achieve a fair and humane asylum system. ‘Towards a National Refugee Strategy’ includes recommendations on expanding access to safe routes and removing barriers to family reunion; piloting ‘refugee visas’; and lifting the ban on the right to work.

Everyday racialisation in temporary asylum accommodation

The Glasgow research project on everyday experiences of people seeking asylum living in temporary accommodation in the city has published its first report.

Free Movement briefing on ‘withdrawn’ asylum claims

According to a new briefing from Free Movement, statistics show that the Home Office is increasingly treating asylum claims as being withdrawn.

  1. Jobs

  1. What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to

  • This letter to The Guardian, comparing the Bibby Stockholm with the ‘floating gulag’ SS Argenta which the British state used to detain Irish Republicans a century ago.

  • This story about the primary school children in Birmingham inspiring a national ‘Cartoons Not Cruelty’ movement. This follows their response to news the Immigration Minister had ordered a Mickey Mouse mural to be painted over at Manston on the grounds it was “too welcoming”.

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