Illegal Migration Bill ‘morally unacceptable and politically impractical’

16 May 2023

On Wednesday, the Illegal Migration Bill was in the House of Lords. We heard criticism of the Bill as “morally unacceptable and politically impractical” whilst another peer stated it would be an “outright ban on asylum”, reflecting comments from the UNHCR.

As the Illegal Migration Bill progresses through Parliament, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the attempted deportation of people seeking safety to Rwanda, on the 14th of June 2022. Every single person scheduled to be on this flight was removed, some through the intervention of international human rights courts. One of these people who was seeking asylum from Albania threatened suicide in the face of this deportation. This Bill would make these deportations not only lawful but routine, embedding these removals into the UK’s ‘asylum’ system, now seemingly better described as a deportation system. The psychological distress and isolation of people seeking safety is a cornerstone of this Refugee Ban Bill.

In recent months, we have also seen attempts to expand the quasi-detention estate, including former military bases, prisons, and barges. It has been suggested that in a recently proposed accommodation barge, each person would have less space than a car parking bay. Anything other than active opposition to this Bill from all parts of civil society fails the thousands of people who have been forced to flee their homes and will now be treated as criminals for seeking safety in the UK.

Politicians and key decision-makers continue to frame people crossing in small boats as a threat, rather than as people forced to use the only available route for them to reach asylum in the UK. This divisive and dehumanising rhetoric is used to justify the violent policies of the Illegal Migration Bill. Instead of forcing people fleeing danger to wait indefinitely, isolated from their communities in horrifying conditions, our asylum system should aim to welcome and care for people fleeing violence and persecution.

In our communities, we must continue to show that this Bill is unworkable and inhumane. The UK asylum policies must become compassionate, welcoming, and uphold international human rights legislation, with open safe and legal routes for those fleeing violence, war and persecution.

Cat (Campaigns Volunteer), and Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead).

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