There is one thing on which Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and I are in complete agreement. The policies and actions relating to asylum seeking in the UK are broken and not fit for purpose. They need reform and a complete re-ordering. To that end, a new Immigration Bill, to be called the Sovereign Borders Bill is being unveiled at the Queen’s Speech on May 11th.
The proposals contained in the Bill is currently out for public consultation. Normally, a new Bill requires a 12 weeks period to gather comments and analyse responses. In this case, only 6 weeks is being allowed. The consultation has been outsourced from the Home Office and is run by an organisation called ‘Britain Thinks’. The organisation is not to be confused with ‘Britain First’, which is an Alternative Right political group.
You may want to look at the proposals in the new Bill, and to make your response. You have until May 6th. To do this, you register with the organisation that will then send you the multi-choice questionnaire. You will see that this asks you leading questions, and requires you to limit your responses to the areas offered in the format.
In brief, the proposed new Bill creates a 3-tier system where refugees are granted different rights and status in order to enter the UK. Reforming the Immigration process is not in dispute. However, this Bill does not address any of the serious concerns raised by Red Cross, Refugee Action, Amnesty International, City of Sanctuary, immigration lawyers, Human Rights activists, and numerous other agencies and organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
I urge you to look at our revised website https://york.cityofsanctuary.org/ which now carries the links to a guide on the proposed Bill and the means of registering for the questionnaire. With only 5 days between close of the consultation process and the Queen’s Speech, what time will be given for analysis?
The Bill will move through parliament over the next months, and is open to reform as it does so. It is expected to be ready for a final vote in Autumn time. A consortium of organisations is consulting together about how best to mobilise objections. York City of Sanctuary is represented on the National body co-ordinating a response to the proposed Bill. We believe it to be unworkable, ignoring human rights in many aspects, and defying International Law. It is inhumane, and designed to increase un-necessary suffering and destitution for those seeking asylum in the UK.
As a first step, we ask you to become acquainted with what is being proposed. We ask you to let other people know how to see our link. Invite them to read what the government intends to do to uncouple us from our long tradition of being amongst the nations who have an open door for people fleeing for their lives from war and persecution.
In the light of the urgent need to share information with supporters, this newsletter is focussed on the issue of the Immigration Bill. We shall have more local news in our next newsletter, in May, which will include details of the York Refugee Week programme.