For each day of refugee week, we are showcasing five stories, letters, statements from people who have come to the UK to seek asylum. All have had vast set out what a more humane asylum system would look like. If the government wants to fix the mess that it has created, it desperately needs to listen to those directly affected.
We begin with a powerful letter to the Home Secretary by Leila*, who has been waiting over a year for a decision on her asylum claim.
Dear Home Secretary,
I came to the UK over four years ago, and claimed asylum over a year ago because it became unsafe for me in my home country. I want to bring to your attention a number of problems with the asylum system which I have experienced.
Since I claimed asylum over a year ago, I have only had the screening interview. Not the substantive interview. My children and my husband are still in my home country and they are not safe where they are, but it is not safe to move. We have no option, and because I do not yet have refugee status in the UK, I cannot bring them here. I am worried about their safety, and feeling guilty because my children are not with me, but it is not safe for me to go back to them.
Since I came to the UK, I have been safe, and I am grateful for that. However, I have experienced many problems.
After I claimed asylum, I lived in a hotel for one year. Let me tell you, it is not a luxury to live in a hotel. I struggled with my mental health, I wasn’t allowed to work. Even though I have 14 years’ experience working in the humanitarian field, in the UK I wasn’t allowed to do anything.
You don’t know how many horrible situations I was in, in the hotel, living alone, not eating, having illusion, always anxious and worrying about what will happen with me here, my children, what is my future, if I come back what will happen.
I lived one year in a hotel and after one year they relocated me. But you don’t know what I’ve been through. It was awful, I was always sending emails to Migrant Help and the Home Office. There is no access to the home Office to explain my story.
And why have I been waiting over a year for my second asylum interview? I have children, and my children are at risk in my home country. It feels like the Home Office doesn’t care about my children and their mental health, or my mental health.
We hear that the government is spending money on hotels. But where does this money go? The hotels are not clean. I have OCD and spend a lot of time cleaning on my own, there is no healthy food. I was healthy before but in this country I increased like 10 kilos and I have high cholesterol, back pain, menstrual problems, and I am taking medication for depression and sleeping. All of this is because of living in 2 hotels.
While I was living in the hotel, the Home Office provided me with £8 per week. What can I do? As a female living alone there are many things that I need and £8 is just not enough.
Since I moved out of the hotel, I am now on £45 per week. This is still not enough – it is impossible for me to travel to visit and support my sister. It would be better if you let me work, instead of force me to accept government aid of £45. I know that this country needs skilled people. Many asylum seekers are educated and they can support themselves, if you let them. Or you can train them to do the jobs that your country needs. Then the government wouldn’t have to pay this money to asylum seekers, they would be able to use their own money to support themselves, and pay taxes like any person in this country. I don’t know why they have this rule which has put my life back one year.
I have masters in psychology and I have wide experience working with different projects in the humanitarian field. I don’t know why. I can’t just sit here and do nothing.
I do not agree with your new policy to stop people claiming asylum. Because how can people who have protection concerns in their country, where they are at risk of harm, come here? This is the question. Because it is so difficult to enter this country. I came here because I have a job, I have an income, I have position, I have invitation from the government to come as a witness to support my sister. But if poepel didn’t have all these things, how can they reach this country to seek asylum? For sure, it’s very hard for them to do this. I don’t know how they reached this decision, or how they will take this decision, or what is going to happen to all these people.
Please, Home Secretary, let us proceed more quickly in the process of asylum. And to get the decision of yes or no, and if no then let people go to another safe place. Because they came here because they thought that this country would protect them. My request really is to proceed quickly in this process. People are struggling, doing nothing. And if people are going to have to wait 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, then maybe they can work. And those people would be useful for this country. Let them work until this decision can be taken. Everything is expensive here and £45 a week is nothing.
A year and a half ago I never imagined that I would be having phone calls using interpreters for five different languages, making emergency children’s Social Services referrals, writing to prominent local MPs, poring over videos of rats, and booking dentist appointments: all in a normal working day.
After starting at RAMFEL as the administrator in January 2022, I became fascinated by what the organisation does, and at the beginning of this year I became a caseworker in our Refugee and Asylum Seeker team. In this team, we support refugees and asylum seekers with ‘casework and destitution support’. This involves issues to do with accommodation, benefits, daily welfare, and access to employment, schools, and healthcare.
It is rewarding being able to work with clients day to day on some of their most basic and essential living needs. But as someone who did not have experience in the migrant sector prior to starting at RAMFEL (other than small bits and pieces of volunteering), I have found a lot surprising and shocking. I still have a huge amount to learn – from my colleagues and from my clients. But at this early stage I wanted to share some of the things I have found most aggravating about the way people like my clients are treated in the UK.
The majority of my work with asylum seeking clients involves advocacy around accommodation. As asylum seekers do not have the right to work, many are destitute, and have to be supported in Home Office accommodation. This can take the form of camps, barracks, and – in the case of my clients – repurposed hotels. Conditions in these hotels are often inhumanely terrible. Mould, bedbugs, food poisoning… Mice in the rooms are commonplace, and a couple of my clients have sent me videos of rats.
My job is to gather evidence about what my clients and their families are suffering in these hotels, and then advocate for the Home Office to move them to ‘dispersal accommodation’ (self-contained buildings) with cooking facilities. Apart from in the most drastic emergency cases, this escalation process takes months if not over a year.
Sadly, when dispersal is granted, even that does not always improve things. One client recently was moved to dispersal accommodation, only to discover that it was not only in the middle of nowhere, but also in an advanced state of disrepair, with windows and a front door that did not close, disgustingly dirty floors and facilities, and no gas. It is disgraceful that these obvious issues were not sorted before the family was moved in. After a week of complaints, the accommodation provider gradually began the works, and my client and his wife and toddler are having to go out while the repairs are taking place, to avoid the spraying chemicals.
With no money and nothing to do nearby, hanging around outside the building is their only option. Meanwhile, the private companies who have won the government contracts to manage asylum seeker accommodation make a vast profit. It is very clear to see that they are doing this by using as little of the contracted money as possible on creating humane conditions for the vulnerable people they are paid to accommodate.
When an asylum seeker’s claim is successful, they are granted leave to remain as a refugee. Unfortunately, their issues with destitution and accommodation do not end there. After a grant of status, a refugee is evicted from asylum support accommodation, and given less than a month to leave. Given that these people were not allowed to work and had essentially no income while their claim was pending, it is like starting from zero.
There is a rush to assist the client with opening a bank account, applying for relevant support, getting connected with employment organisations, and – most pressingly of all – looking for accommodation. The first step is always to request a homelessness assessment from the client’s local council. While councils can provide advice to anyone that they deem homeless, they are not obliged to accommodate anyone who is not in priority need, ie. someone with children or who is severely disabled.
For anyone else, the only option is sofa surfing with friends, or to navigate the private rental sector (difficult if benefits are currently your only income as you have understandably been unable to find a job within weeks of finally being granted permission to work). We assist clients by introducing them to housing association properties, but these are few and far between. Many of our refugee clients are therefore homeless, and some are even rough sleepers. It is devastating to me that, after the government finally accepts that their plea for protection is well founded and that they have been given leave to remain in the UK, many of my clients are plunged straight into poverty.
Perhaps it should not have shocked me that our government’s hostility towards migrants is enacted through such an aggressive and unpleasant welcome to life in the country. After all, the Conservatives’ unhealthy obsession with deterring immigration means that every aspect of the asylum seeker’s journey towards rebuilding their life in the UK is tarnished by humiliation, suffering, and disrespect. Luckily for British citizens like me, people like my clients are seeing this difficult process through, and bringing a wealth of diversity, talents, stories, traditions, and new perspectives to our country. It is a privilege to work alongside them on that journey.
Press Release: Government must abandon plans to exclude those seeking sanctuary from vital housing safety regulation
People seeking sanctuary excluded from vital housing safety regulation
Over one hundred and thirty organisations have signed a letter to the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman MP, and to the levelling-up secretary, Michael Gove MP, voicing their extreme concerns about regulations currently being considered by Parliament to remove licensing requirements for asylum accommodation.
The open letter co-authored by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL) and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) amassed 137 signatories, including Crisis, Shelter, the Refugee Council and Amnesty International.
It calls for Ministers to abandon plans that would see asylum-seekers housed in unsafe accommodation with inadequate protections against fire and overcrowding.
Gavin Smart, chief executive at Chartered Institute of Housing stated:
“The licensing scheme for houses that are multi-occupied are designed to keep people safe, especially safe from fire. They need to apply to everyone, including people seeking sanctuary in the UK. That’s why we’re calling on the government to drop its proposal to exempt asylum accommodation from the HMO licencing arrangements.”
The letter notes that the strain on the asylum accommodation system is due to excessive delays in asylum decision-making and the fact that those seeking asylum are not allowed to work. The letter urges the Home Office to address these problems rather than deny people seeking sanctuary the basic accommodation rights that should be afforded to all tenants.
Mary Atkinson at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said:
"This government is essentially proposing a two-tier system of housing, with fundamental human rights for people born here but not for those who come here seeking safety. This is outrageous. Everyone deserves a home that is decent and safe – by stripping away these protections for people seeking sanctuary, this Government is putting people’s lives at risk. It must instead act to quickly and fairly process asylum claims, and make sure local authorities are properly resourced to provide safe housing for all who need it.”
The letter asks government to redouble efforts to ensure that asylum accommodation is safe, healthy and secure, rather than removing HMO licensing requirements. The letter was sent with a further, detailed briefing document for all MPs to consider.
Nick Beales, head of campaigning, at Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (Ramfel) commented:
“Whilst appalling under any circumstances, the government appears to have made this decision following lobbying by private companies whose motivation is solely profit driven. Rather than prioritising increased profits for these companies, the government should be focused on ensuring that housing provided to asylum seekers is safe, sanitary and allows them to best settle into their local communities.
“If the government was truly committed to reducing the numbers of refugees in asylum support accommodation, their focus would be on processing claims, granting people leave to remain and allowing them to work whilst decisions on their claims are made. Instead, this is more vicious cruelty that puts vulnerable peoples’ lives at risk.
“We call on the government to reverse these punitive changes and guarantee basic housing standards for all UK residents.”
137 housing and migrants’ rights organisations sign joint letter calling on the British government not to trash vital housing protections for refugee accommodation.
RAMFEL, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants have co-authored a joint letter, signed by 134 other organisations, calling on the British government not to trash vital housing protections.
The government is trying to ram through plans that would remove legal protections for asylum accommodation, opening the door for landlords to provide unsafe, overcrowded and even less sanitary housing for people who have already been forced to flee their homes. This is wrong and we are calling on the government to abandon these plans and recognise that everyone deserves safe and decent housing.
Read this letter below.
24th May 2023
Dear Secretaries of State
People seeking sanctuary excluded from vital housing safety regulation
We are writing to express our organisations’ extreme concern about the regulations being considered by Parliament that would remove the licensing requirements for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) used as asylum accommodation.
We are aware that the Home Office promises to repeat the requirements that normally apply in licensing via its contracts with accommodation suppliers; however, experience with enforcement of conditions in existing contracts indicates that this is very unlikely to be sufficient or comprehensive given the scale of accommodation required.
We are particularly concerned that the potential combination of overcrowding, sharing of facilities such as kitchens and potentially lax enforcement of gas and electrical safety standards poses a severe fire risk (these factors appeared to be behind the recent tragic fire in Tower Hamlets). Given that much of the accommodation is likely to be in flats or in terraced housing, the risk applies both to the property itself and to neighbouring homes. The risk is, of course, enhanced by the very real possibility of arson attacks.
As well as safety issues, the potential for increased use of substandard buildings could affect the health and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary, for example by removing the standards that apply to the kitchen and bathroom facilities required in relation to numbers of occupants. Limited or no controls over room-sharing may well lead to conflicts between occupants, and to safeguarding dangers. Occupants could be condemned to near cell-like conditions in rooms which (for example) could have no windows.
We are also concerned that people seeking sanctuary will potentially be placed into overcrowded rooms in overcrowded housing in neighbourhoods with existing high concentrations of hostel-type accommodation, with potential ramifications for community inclusivity and the safety of people seeking sanctuary.
Existing landlords and temporary accommodation providers will be incentivised to switch their properties away from their existing uses to asylum accommodation, which may be more profitable. This could include properties which may not have met HMO standards previously. As well as leading to an increase in substandard properties, this could exacerbate local housing and
homelessness pressures, with the potential for people seeking sanctuary to be blamed for causing them.
As contracts for asylum will be managed by the Home Office, councils will be much less likely to directly redress poor standards or safety issues. As a result, enforcement action may not take place or could be much slower than under current local HMO licensing arrangements. Councils will no longer receive HMO licensing fees from properties used for asylum accommodation, drastically reducing the funds available for enforcement work.
It is worth noting two important elements of HMO licensing:
1. The reason for licensing is that, over decades, HMOs have been shown to be the properties posing greatest risk to health and safety – especially death from fire. As a bare minimum, if the plans go ahead, additional fire safety requirements (over and above those for non-multi-occupied dwellings) should be on the face of the instrument to show explicitly how fire risk will be minimised.
2. Licensing under Part 2 powers is pre-disclosure: councils know where these properties are before they are let, so they can be checked for safety before any incident occurs. Part 1 powers (which local authorities can still use) are only effective if they know where HMOs are; they are dependent on complaints which may not be made (especially given that the occupants are people recently arrived in the UK, who are likely less equipped to navigate local authority complaints systems).
We appreciate the need to resolve accommodation issues resulting from the backlog of asylum claims. However, we do not believe that removing HMO licensing controls is the way to proceed. In summary, our concerns are at two levels. One is the danger of failing to liaise with local authorities and the removal of local controls in situations rife with potential problems for community relations. The second, and even more important, is the potential effect on the safety and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary. The relaxation of standards contrasts sharply with the government’s efforts to enhance building safety more generally and to tackle poor conditions in the private rented sector, which we strongly support.
We note that the strain on the asylum accommodation system is partly the result of most people seeking asylum being banned from working, as well as excessive delays in asylum decision-making. The Home Office should address these problems rather than deny people seeking sanctuary the basic accommodation rights that should be afforded to all tenants.
We therefore urge you to abandon the planned removal of HMO licensing requirements, and instead to redouble efforts to ensure that asylum accommodation is safe, healthy and secure.
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Housing, on behalf of the following 137 organisations
Dr C Wooff, Joint leader, ACAP (Ashton Churches Asylum Project)
Duncan McAuley, CEO, Action Foundation
Rosie Boyd, Refugee Integration Officer, African Rainbow Family
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director, Amnesty International UK
Giles Peaker, Partner, Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP
Anna Rudd, Interim Director, ASSIST Sheffield
Ewan Roberts, CEO, Asylum Link Merseyside
Mabli Jones, Deputy Director, Asylum Matters
Kat Lorenz, Director, Asylum Support Appeals Project
Mark Goldring, Director, Asylum Welcome
Nadia Hussain, Liaison Worker, Aylesbury Women's Aid
Pierre Makhlouf, Legal Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees
Emma Hawthorne, Chair, BIRCH (Birmingham Community Hosting)
David Brown, Chair, Birmingham City of Sanctuary
Mandy Ross, Refugee Support Group member, Birmingham Progressive Synagogue
Barbara Forbes, Local lead Birmingham, Birmingham Schools of Sanctuary
Dr. Wanda Wyporska, CEO, Black Equity Organisation
Ros Holland, Chief Exec, Boaz Trust
David Thomas, Legal Officer, Brighton & Hove Housing Coalition
Laura Chester, Host Network Manager, Bristol Hospitality Network
Hana Cogingsford, Solicitor, Bristol Law Centre
Qerim Nuredini, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Refugee Rights
Caroline Gregory, Director, Calais Action
Amber Ray, Communications and Engagement Lead, Calderdale Valley of Sanctuary
Catharine Walston, Trustee, Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign
Eleanor Brown, CEO, CARAS
Central England Law Centre, Central England Law Centre, Central England Law Centre
Tom Martin, Director, City of Sanctuary Sheffield
Sian Summers-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary UK
Toni Soni, Centre Director, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
Sally Hyman, Trustee and founder, Cribs International
Matt Downie, CEO, Crisis
Fran Wood, Chair of DAR, Darlington Assistance for Refugees
Steve Cooke, Chair, Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity
Alex Vessis, CEO, Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support
Disrupt Foundation, ,
Karuna, National health advisor, Doctors of the world
Penny Hardcastle, Teacher, Farnham help for refugees
Joanne Watters, Head of Community Projects, Father Hudson's Care
Alan Strang, Volunteer, For Refugees Birminghan
Amber Bauer, CEO, forRefugees
Anna Pincus, Director, Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
Dan Wilson Craw, Acting Director, Generation Rent
Jason Tetley, Director, Greater Manchester Law Centre
Stephan Morrison, Researcher, Groundswell
Rose Nickolds, Housing and Destitution Caseworker, Hackney Migrant Centre
Hansen Palomares, Solicitors, Hansen Palomares
Madeleine Evans, General Manager, Haringey Migrant Support Centre
Lucy Nabijou, Coordinator, Haringey Welcome
Polly Gifford, Co-Chair, Hastings Community of Sanctuary
Jane Grimshaw, Convener, Hastings Supports Refugees
Kerry Smith, Chief Executive, Helen Bamber Foundation
Angus Clark, Chief Executive, Herts for Refugees
Rosie Carter, Director of policy, HOPE not hate
Phil Davis, Director, Hope Projects
Simon Mullings, Co-chair, Housing Law Practitioners' Association
Sarah Teather, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service UK
Lisa Norcross, Project Manager, Kairos Housing
Sue Willman, Supervising Solicitor, King's College Legal Clinic
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, Head of Policy and Profile, Law Centres Network
Dragica Felja, Head of education, Law for Life
Jenny Willison, Trustee/Secretary, Leeds Destitute Asylum-Seekers Support
Pete Hobson, Chair, Leicester City of Sanctuary
Rosario Guimba-Stewart, CEO, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network (LRMN)
Catherine Pellegrino, Senior Policy Officer, Maternity Action
Dr Joanna Dobbin, GP registrar, Medact
Sebastian Rocca, Founder and CEO, Micro Rainbow CIC
Cllr. Dr. Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, Co-founder, Migrant Champions Network
Lara Parizotto, Co-Director, Migrant Democracy Project
Son Olszewski, Caseworker, Migrants Organise
Fizza Qureshi, CEO, Migrants' Rights Network
Ceri Hutton, Chair, MigrationWork CIC
Jane Long, MTVH Migration Foundation Committee Member, MTVH Migration Foundation
Bridget Young, Director, NACCOM
John Mayford, CEO, Olmec
Shelley Meister, Founder, trustee, One and All Aid
Salma Ravat, CEO, One Roof Leicester
Alex McMahon, Senior Associate, Osbornes Law
William Ford, Partner, Osbornes Law
Amos Schonfield, CEO, Our Second Home
Paul Quinn, Owner, Paul Quinn writing and editing
Elaine Fraser, Co Founder, PEOPLE IN MOTION
Wren Trevisan, Manager, Phone Credit for Refugees
Sally Daghlian OBE, CEO, Praxis
Kristine Harris, Policy Coordinator, Project 17
Jean Demars, Director, Public Interest Law Centre
Shameem Ahmad, CEO, Public Law Project
Nick Beales, Head of Campaigning, RAMFEL
Anna Jones, CEO & Co-founder, RefuAid
Tim Naor Hilton, Chief Executive, Refugee Action
Sarah Fenby Dixon, Trustee, Refugee Aid Network
Shari Brown, Partnership and Development Manager, Refugee and Migrant Centre (West Midlands)
Shelley Braddock- Overbury, Senior Caseworker, Refugee Asylum Seeker Migrant Action (RAMA)
Ruhi Akhtar, CEO / Founder, Refugee Biriyani & Bananas
Enver Solomon, CEO, Refugee Council
Nick Harborne, CEO, Refugee Support Group Berkshire
Nese Davidson-Birch, Supported Lodging Lead, Refugee Welcome Homes
Alison Moore, CEO, Refugee Women Connect
Mandy Littlewood, Project manager, Refugees & Mentors CIC
Sarah Crowther, Director, Refugees in Effective and Active Partnership (REAP
Jeremy Thompson, Manager, Restore - a project of Birmingham Churches Together
M El Sayed, Research and Advocacy Officer, Rethink Rebuild
Caroline Coombs, CEO, Reunite Families UK
Derek White, Trustee, Rochdale Action with Destitute Asylum seekers and Refugees
Polly Neate, CEO, Shelter
Elizabeth Morgan, Trustee/Treasurer, Side by Side Refugees
patrick marples, CEO, South West London Law Centres
Lucy Parker, Homeless Advice Worker, Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers
Robert Rush, Garden coordinator, Southwark Day Centre for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Rebecca Bahar, Solicitor, Southwark Law Centre
Liz Needham, Chair of Trustees, St Albans for Refugees
Abigail Martin, Manager, St Chad's Sanctuary
Becky Hellewell, Head of Support & Immigration, St. Augustine's Centre
Stephanie Neville, Project Manager, Stories of Hope and Home
Emily Crowley, Chief Executive, Student Action for Refugees (STAR)
Rachel Balabanoff, Coordinator, The Care Rights Project
Alexandra Lopoukhine, Interim Executive Director, The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Jane Williams, Founder, The Magpie Project
Alex Kempton, Director of Operations and Campaigns, The Refugee Buddy Project
William Gomes, Director, The William Gomes Podcast
Susanne Schuster, Publicity and Events volunteer, Thousand 4 £1000
Sue Hirschler, Volunteer, Thousand for £1000
Susie Dye, Grants Manager, Trust for London
Laura Coyle, Partner and Housing Solicitor, Turpin Miller LLP
Dania Thomas, Co-Director, Ubuntu Women Shelter
Andrew Jackson, Chief Executive, Upbeat Communities
Mel Steel, Director, Voices in Exile
Marcie Winstanley, Volunteer Coordinator, West End Refugee Service
Jason Hussein, Head of Advocacy and Support, West End Refugee Service
Joanne MacInnes, Director, West London Welcome
Ted Britton, Chair of Trustees, West Yorkshire Destitute Asylum Network (WYDAN)
George Reiss, Vice chair, Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary
Alphonsine Kabagabo, Director, Women for Refugee Women
Debby Wilson, Domestic Abuse Caseworker, Women's Aid
Jo Cobley, CEO, Young Roots
Valerie Clark, Director, Youth Legal
As a coalition of 175 civil society organisations representing the human rights, migrant, refugee, asylum, anti-slavery and trafficking, children’s, women’s, LGBTQI+, disability rights and other sectors sectors, we call on Parliamentarians to urge the Government to immediately withdraw the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’.
We all deserve to live safe from harm and to be treated with compassion, dignity, and respect. But this shockingly cruel and inhumane Bill turns our country’s back on people fleeing war and persecution, blocking them from protection, support, or justice at a time they need it most.
The Bill is effectively a ban on asylum, extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom. It will put people seeking safety and a better life at risk of irreversible harm, with life and death consequences.
This Bill attacks the very core of human rights, which is the fundamental belief that we all have human rights regardless of who we are or where we are from. Instead, it separates people into categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ of human rights. In stripping the most basic rights from people seeking safety and a better life, the Bill dismantles human rights protections for all of us.
The Bill deliberately and unacceptably excludes an entire category of people from the protections guaranteed under our domestic laws and international obligations.
It will almost certainly breach multiple international conventions and agreements, including the UN Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT).
The Government has acknowledged that it cannot guarantee the Bill will be compatible with the ECHR, a legally binding instrument. The Convention represents the rights and values that we hold dear, including the right to life, protection from slavery and torture, and the right to liberty, which are all threatened by this Bill.
Not only does the Bill substantially threaten human rights, it aims to shield the Government from accountability when it does violate those rights by reducing parliamentary and judicial scrutiny.
The Bill includes the unprecedented and alarming proposal to disapply Section 3 of the Human Rights Act, which empowers our judges to interpret laws in a way that protects our rights. Without that protection, individuals affected by this Bill are limited from getting justice when their rights are violated.
The Bill hands vast delegated powers to the Secretary of State, including the power to amend laws in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, despite the fact that human rights are largely a devolved matter.
The Bill would also enable Ministers to ignore interim measures from the European Court of Human Rights – a rare yet vital last resort to halt proceedings like deportations when people’s lives are deemed at risk of extreme and irreversible harm.
This Bill would almost certainly be unlawful domestically and internationally. The Bill signals to the international community that the Government intends to commit human rights abuses while evading scrutiny and accountability, setting a dangerous example to other states.
More importantly, these cruel and inhumane plans are a stain on our collective moral conscience, attacking the values we cherish as a democratic, rights-respecting society. This Bill is a dangerous piece of legislation that will most certainly lead to irreparable harm, grave suffering, and possible deaths if enacted.
We stand united in solidarity with the individuals and families who would be directly harmed, and oppose the Government’s divisive attacks on refugees migrants, victims and survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery, and other people who move. We fiercely reject any attempts to undermine the universality of human rights.
We urge all Parliamentarians to urge the Government to withdraw the Bill.
Dominic Raab and Robert Jenrick have no idea how awful hotel accommodation is, yet want to ensure refugees in the UK suffer even more
Last week saw yet more cruel rhetoric from the government towards refugees. The focus was on accommodation, with ideas (which aren’t new) to house people in disused military bases and even moored cruise ships now being floated.
Presently, many refugees are housed in hotels whilst they wait months and years for decisions on their claims. Unable to work, they are entirely reliant on the state for support, yet the level of support provided already meets what can generously be described as the bare minimum. Those in hotels receive food, which is often of a shockingly poor standard, unsuitable for people’s health needs or dietary requirements, lacking nutritional content and culturally insensitive, but are provided just £9.10 per week. Some of the families we support record skipping meals and spending their meagre income on food. On such a small level of subsistence, doing the most basic things, such as travelling to appointments with a lawyer, is almost impossible.
Despite this reality, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick stated this week that in the future refugees would be given the most basic accommodation possible; as the “Illegal Immigration Bill” will prevent asylum claims being heard in the UK, presumably too his vision is for people to live permanently in such squalor. In any case, either Jenrick does not know how substandard current asylum accommodation provision is, or he chose to deliberately misrepresent the truth.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab was next. He repeated the obviously false and entirely misleading claim that hotel accommodation somehow incentivises refugees to seek sanctuary in the UK – when in fact Home Office research confirms that so-called “pull factors” do not influence refugees’ decisions to favour the UK over other countries
Raab and Jenrick, both millionaires, have a misplaced view of hotel accommodation and understand nothing of the realities of living in mouldy, vermin-infested temporary accommodation that share no similarities with the places they might stay on holiday.
In truth, hotel accommodation is already awful, especially as with no income asylum seekers often spend the majority of their time effectively confined to their rooms. One family with 2 children we work with stay in a hotel with bars on the windows, resembling a prison more than somewhere you’d spend a vacation. Many RAMFEL clients stay in one particularly delapidated hotel, with damp, mould-encrusted walls and a mouse infestation. Photos we have viewed of this property are truly shocking, and if both Raab and Jenrick took the time to visit and see the living standards, we think that even they would be shocked.
When complaints are made to hotel staff about living conditions, a hostile response is often received. This includes staff telling people they should not have come to the UK and even that voicing their concerns will harm their asylum claim.
The UK’s asylum system is clearly not functioning as it should, with a backlog of 160,000 claims and more than 10,000 people waiting more than 3 years for a decision. Contrary to the government’s public posture, no one – not asylum seekers, migrants’ rights charities, the Home Office, or the public– wants people stuck in hotels for years on end. The answer though is not to move people to somewhere that may be even worse.
The government’s focus should be on processing asylum claims and granting those recognised as refugees leave to remain. Only once their status is resolved can refugees begin working and actually contributing to society. Considering Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria, amongst others, have approval rates exceeding 98%, it serves no purpose to keep people from such countries stuck in limbo for extended periods when their claims will inevitably be allowed. The existing status quo is not only extremely costly, but also harms integration as it prevents refugees from fully settling into the communities that will become their home.
Another step the government could take is to lift the ban on asylum seekers working. This again is often cited as a ‘pull factor’, but there is once more no evidence to support this. Refugees choose to come to the UK because of existing familial, linguistic and other ties. They often too, despite the government’s best efforts to disprove this, believe the UK to be a country where human rights are respected and a place where they will be able to rebuild their lives.
Processing asylum claims should clearly be the government’s priority if it is serious about reducing the number of people in hotels. Instead, their focus is gimmicky, performative cruelty, which will do nothing to fix the UK’s asylum system, but will without question make vulnerable peoples’ worse.
It has been suggested that the government may see the continued use of hotels as politically beneficial, a sinical ploy to maintain a “problem” they can then “fix” with ever crueller and more draconian measures. Nobody voted for this. This type of performative cruelty is increasingly out of touch with UK voters, whose attitudes towards migration are some of the most accepting in the world. The government should prioritise processing claims so that people can get on with their lives and meaningfully contribute to communities across the country.
Briefing – Government’s “Illegal Migration Bill”
The government’s “Illegal Migration Bill” effectively dismantles the asylum system in the UK and leaves nothing in its place, with the result that most people coming to the UK to seek asylum will simply be left in a permanent limbo. Under these plans the only people who will have access to refugee protection in the UK are the very few arriving on the government’s extremely limited resettlement programs.1 It will cause untold harm on an alarming scale.
This Bill will not have its intended effect and is doomed to fail on its own terms. We can predict the impact of this Bill with reasonable accuracy because it follows a very similar model as the Nationality and Borders Act, through the attempt to exclude people arriving by boats from the asylum system. That piece of legislation has caused an increase in the asylum backlog to its largest level ever, a spike in waiting times for asylum decisions, and has had none of the impacts that the government promised it would. This Bill will have a similar impact.
Fundamentally this Bill appears more designed as a piece of political theatre than serious workable legislation that the UK could come close to implementing. However, the limbo and bureaucratic inertia that it will cause will no doubt have very real consequences for the men, women and children that come here to seek protection. We ask that you oppose it at every opportunity.
This was an opportunity to end chronic delays in processing claims and introduce safe routes that negate the need for refugees to take dangerous journeys – such as by fixing the systemic problems with the Refugee Family Reunion system identified by the Immigration Inspector last month. Instead, we are seeing more of the same so-called ‘deterrence’ policies that have already failed on every possible metric, while causing untold harm and bringing the asylum system grinding to a halt.
The Bill will ban people arriving through irregular means, after 7th March, from ever claiming asylum in the UK – if they meet four conditions:
This is a fundamental departure from our own treaty obligations and the system for international refugee protection as a whole, and it turns our back on the people who need our protection. According to the government’s own refugee determination process, the vast majority of those people coming to the UK on small boats are genuine refugees. Banning them from seeking asylum is entirely contrary to the principles set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention, which the UK helped draft and has since been a proud signatory.
It builds on and deepens the divisions introduced by the Nationality and Borders Act which created a two-tier system of refugee protection, according to the route that people came to the UK. Only the small number of people who arrive on the extremely limited refugee protection regimes can access the asylum system. The remainder will be left in a permanent limbo state where they will be acutely vulnerable to exploitation. Those individuals will be living in temporary forms of accommodation – probably in military barracks or hotels, permanently barred from working, renting or participating in society. Those individuals will need to be perpetually supported by the state, thereby massively increasing the cost of the asylum system.
We have witnessed first-hand the unfolding mental health crisis among asylum seekers made to live in temporary accommodation for months or years, surviving on meagre subsistence payments without the legal right to work or participate in society.
The Bill fundamentally misunderstands the nature of fleeing conflict and persecution and seeking protection in a foreign country. People fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan or indefinite military service in Eritrea are not able to apply for a visa to come to the UK. It is not illegal to cross a border without a visa for the purpose of seeking asylum and people are not required to claim asylum in the first country where their life and liberty is not threatened.
The UK already accepts fewer refugees than many other countries, even our closest neighbours,2 and the great majority of refugees relocate internally or in neighbouring countries. The relatively small numbers of people who seek asylum in the UK do so because they may have family here, or connections to a diasporic community, or English language skills. Many come from countries that are connected to the UK because of war, invasion or colonisation. Internal Home Office documents confirm that these are the primary motivations for those seeking asylum in the UK.
The Bill introduces sweeping new powers of detention (Clause 12), under which people who meet the four conditions can be detained. Those individuals will be detained indefinitely, without trial, in ‘any place that the Secretary of State considers appropriate’. For the first 28 days of their detention, they will be unable to apply for bail to a court and will be denied the opportunity to challenge their detention through judicial review. It is commonly accepted that incommunicado detention exposes detainees to risks of serious human rights abuses.
Clause 12 of the Bill also states that detention can be maintained for as long as the Secretary of State deems it to be “reasonably necessary”, and it can continue “regardless of whether there is anything that for the time being prevents the deportation order from being made or the removal from being carried out”. This severs the link between the use of detention and the requirement for removal to be imminent, and will allow the Home Secretary to keep people in detention even when removal is not imminent, or even possible. This appears to include all people in detention – not just recent arrivals - including long-term residents who grew up in the UK or have families here and are now facing deportation.
Those people can be ‘of any age’ – seemingly indicating a return to detention of children, which was banned 13 years ago by the coalition government, in 2010. This goes against current legislation banning the detention of children except for very short periods. The Immigration Act 2014 banned the detention of unaccompanied children for more than a 24-hour period at any one time, while children can be detained with families for up to 72 hours, extendable to 7 days with ministerial approval. That detention can take place ‘in any place that the Secretary of State considers appropriate’.
This means possibly as many as 60,000 men, women and even children fleeing persecution will be locked up indefinitely without trial. Detention destroys lives and particularly those who are already vulnerable, as people arriving in the UK fleeing conflict or persecution usually are. Policies that traumatise tens of thousands of people will harm ‘integration’ and create further strain on public services when people are eventually released – the government knows they cannot be locked up forever, but in a radical departure from existing detention laws, the government will remove the power of individuals to challenge their detention.
The UK is also in no position to implement this type of mass-scale incarceration. The prison population is on average around 90,000 people. The government proposes to detain an additional 60,000 next year. This is pure fantasy. The UK is nowhere near having the resources to do this and any attempt to actually implement these plans will only divert vital funds away from dealing with the cost of living crisis.
The Home Secretary has created a duty upon herself to remove people who meet the 4 conditions (clause 2). Not only is this in breach of the Refugee Convention, but it is precisely what the Home Office has already committed to doing for every individual arriving in a small boat under the Nationality and Borders Act.
Home Office data shows that Between 1 January 2021 and 30 September 2022, 20,605 asylum claimants were identified for consideration on inadmissibility grounds, and 18,494 ‘notices of intent’ were issued to individuals informing them that the Home Office was considering removal on inadmissibility grounds. Of those, 83 people were served with inadmissibility decisions and 21 individuals were forcibly removed. 9,772 were simply admitted into the asylum system. Therefore just 0.1% of people issued with a ‘notice of intent’ for inadmissibility have been removed. This has contributed to the asylum backlog and had no impact on removal numbers.
It is unclear how putting this duty into statute would change any of this. Instead it will simply cause further harm and delays.
The entire Bill is based on a logic of deterrence, that people will stop coming to the UK to seek protection if you make it sufficiently difficult for those that do arrive. There is no evidence that this type of approach works. In fact, in its own Impact Assessment on the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Government admitted that the plan to “increase security and deterrence” could encourage people to “attempt riskier means of entering the UK”. It also states that “evidence supporting the effectiveness of this [security and deterrence] approach is limited”.
Asylum seekers choose which country they go to as a result of a range of complex interacting factors, but there is no evidence that a change in asylum policy such as this would have any meaningful impact on the destination choice of refugees.
Undermines parliamentary sovereignty:
The Bill transfers power away from parliament and concentrates it in the hands of the Home Secretary. There are 17 instances where the Bill gives the Home Secretary the power to change the law by making regulations. This is fundamentally contrary to the principles of the UK’s parliamentary democracy.
While the Home Secretary has stated that she is confident in the Bill’s lawfulness, it is striking that she states on the first page that “I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nevertheless wishes the House to proceed with the Bill.” The Bill also states that section 3 of the Human Rights Act does not apply to the provisions in the Bill, meaning that the Bill does not have to be interpreted as far as possible in a way that is compatible with the Human Rights Act.
The provisions also exclude people from the protections afforded to trafficking victims under the Modern Slavery Act. That is not only in breach of the UK’s treaty obligations under the European Convention Against Trafficking (ECAT) but will make it more difficult for the government to pursue the trafficking gangs that the government claims to be targeting with this legislation. This removal of protections, alongside banning access to the asylum system, will produce a more exploitable class of people and create the conditions for human trafficking and modern slavery to flourish in the UK.
We note that there was no consultation on this Bill – and we are disappointed that the government did not consider it necessary to gather the opinions of experts, including those with lived experience of the asylum system, stakeholders, or the general public. However there is compelling evidence from the consultation responses in the Nationality and Borders Act that this approach is not popular:
“The consultation has shown that there is some support for these broad ambitions, more so from members of the public. However, the responses sent into the Government consultation also show that around three quarters of those who responded said they opposed many of the policies set out in the New Plan for Immigration.”
More recent evidence published this week by UK in a Changing Europe, overwhelmingly finds that public opinion on immigration has shifted a long way since 2016. Culturally, the UK public now has a much more progressive stance on immigration questions. These plans do not have the support of the general public and we remain confident that there is widespread public support for a fairer, more humane immigration system that treats those seeking protection with dignity and justice.
Sustainable, evidence-based solutions:
The government could have introduced measures designed to increase the quality and efficiency of asylum decisions. That is what other European countries have done. It could also finally create safe routes for refugees to get to the UK, both by introducing a humanitarian visa and expanding the scope of family reunion. Tellingly, despite the country being at war, not a single Ukrainian national was detected entering the UK by boat. This is because the UK created safe and accessible visa routes for Ukrainian nationals, meaning they did not need to resort to dangerous journeys. As the Immigration Inspector found, “the lack of an effective family reunion route carries with it the risk that vulnerable people will resort to dangerous journeys to join their family members in the UK”.
The government has shown no interest in doing so, despite leading figures such as Home Secretary Suella Braverman being unable to explain how a refugee should travel to the UK. The longer the government persists with deterrence-based policies, the more difficult it will be to eventually implement sensible and evidence-based solutions. Neither this piece of legislation, or its predecessor, or any that succeed it based on deterrence, will help to prevent further tragedies in the channel.
Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL) is a legal charity providing advice to migrants in the community on issues related to immigration and asylum claims, welfare/benefits, access to housing and prevention of destitution, and integration support. As part of our Refugee and Asylum Casework Team, we have advised and represented many refugees and people with humanitarian protection applying for family reunion with family members overseas. We work on behalf of both adult and child refugees, with the family members applying usually being pre-flight spouses, children (under and over 18), parents or siblings.
If you would like more information please contact Nick Beales on Nick.Beales@ramfel.org.uk.
Yesterday, the government introduced yet another piece of asylum legislation doomed to failure. This was an opportunity to end chronic delays in processing claims and introduce safe routes that negate the need for refugees to take dangerous journeys. Instead we are seeing more of the same so-called ‘deterrence’ policies that have already failed on every possible metric, while causing untold harm and bringing the asylum system grinding to a halt.
Last year the government introduced processes for making asylum claims ‘inadmissible’ – this policy, intended to have a ‘deterrent’ effect, has had the sole consequence of increasing waiting times and caused an alarming spike in the asylum backlog. This latest proposed legislation works in a similar way and there is not a shred of evidence that it will have different consequences.
As journalist May Bulman recently reported, the pursuit of unworkable, headline-grabbing policies has diverted focus and resources from asylum decision-making and, as one civil servant put it, a “neglect of the fundamentals of how the asylum system functions”.
We know these policies don’t work – the Home Office was even brazen enough to admit the lack of evidence in the course of last year’s Nationality and Borders Bill. We do know they cause distress, anguish and trauma on a massive scale. And this is just through announcing ever crueller measures with increasingly extreme rhetoric that make it clear to refugees: the UK government does not want you here. We have witnessed first-hand the unfolding mental health crisis among asylum seekers made to live in temporary accommodation for months or years, surviving on meagre subsistence payments without the legal right to work or participate in society.
A key part of the latest legislation is the intention to detain tens of thousands of people each year – possibly as many as 60,000 men, women and even children fleeing persecution will be locked up indefinitely without trial. Detention destroys lives and particularly those who are already vulnerable, as people arriving in the UK fleeing conflict or persecution usually are. Policies that traumatise tens of thousands of people will harm ‘integration’ and create further strain on public services when people are eventually released – the government knows they cannot be locked up forever, but in a radical departure from existing detention laws, the government will remove the power of individuals to challenge their detention.
The UK is in no position to implement this type of mass-scale performative cruelty. The prison population is on average around 90,000 people. Anyone who believes the government could lock up another 60,000 people next year is deluded, but that is the government’s proposal. The UK is nowhere near having the resources to do this state, and any attempt to actually implement these plans will only divert vital funds away from dealing with the cost of living crisis.
When it comes to deterrent policy, there are no new ideas. These proposals are a re-working of the Nationality and Borders Bill, and many other short-lived ideas that have been trialled over the past 20 years. The Guardian traced 43 times we were promised flashy new plans to end the crisis, once and for all.
The government could have introduced measures designed to increase the quality and efficiency of asylum decisions. That is what other European countries have done. It could also finally create safe routes for refugees to get to the UK, both by introducing a humanitarian visa and expanding the scope of family reunion. The government has shown no interest in doing so, despite leading figures such as Home Secretary Suella Braverman being unable to explain how a refugee should travel to the UK.
The longer the government persists with deterrence-based policies, the more difficult it will be to eventually implement sensible and evidence-based solutions. The government cannot continue to take the public for fools, and these measures will do nothing to prevent further tragedies in the Channel.
Breaking: Government again admits its 'no recourse to public funds' (NRPF) policy is unlawful
The individual applicants in this case needed public funds to supplement their income because of their or their family members’ disabilities, but the government imposed an NRPF condition and failed to adequately consider their disability-related needs. Romoke Kehinde Ali, who brought the claim is a 55-year-old woman was left unable to continue working as a care assistant after suffering a stroke. The other claimant is the parent of a disabled child who can only work limited hours. Sky Sadly their unjust treatment is far from unique. Take RAMFEL’s client Mercy – a mother of 4 with a 9-year-old son with cerebral palsy – who risked being plunged into poverty after the government suddenly removed all access to public funds, without explanation.
Shortly before the hearing, the government conceded that its guidance, and the immigration rules themselves, are unlawful, as they do not comply with the Equality Act, and fail to make it clear that disabled people can be allowed access to public funds even if they are not destitute or imminently destitute. On 15th February 2023 a High Court order was approved, and the immigration rules and guidance must now be amended. Until that happens, if anyone with a disability requiring public funds is told that they cannot access public funds, that decision is likely to be unlawful.
We don’t know how many people have been harmed by the government’s existing, unlawful policy. In 2021, 118,100 people were given leave to remain in the UK subject to having no recourse to public funds. However, despite admitting in 2020 that its NRPF policy risked discriminating against disabled people, the government maintained a cruel and inflexible approach towards those people for 3 more years.
This is the latest in a long line of defeats for the NRPF scheme and the hostile environment policy more broadly. DPG solicitors, who acted in this case, last year recorded that the NRPF policy had been found to be unlawful four times in the last four years.
In 2020, the government published an assessment of the NRPF policy’s compliance with their Public Sector Equality Duty, and acknowledged a risk that disabled people could be discriminated against, stating that they would monitor the impact. The government does not appear to have done that, failing to provide any information about this issue in response to RAMFEL’s Parliamentary Questions and Freedom of Information Requests. Having acknowledged and then ignored the risks, it is little surprise that the government is now forced to concede the unlawfulness of its approach.
RAMFEL’s head of campaigns, Nick Beales, said:
“The NRPF policy has caused untold harm for the past decade. Public funds are a vital safety net for everyone, even more so during the current cost of living crisis. The fact that the government has been consistently denying that to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, namely people with disabilities, is utterly shameful. We are pleased to have contributed to the case that will end this pernicious practice, and hope the government will now swiftly update its NRPF guidance to better protect disabled people.”
Telling people that they can’t be refugees because they are from a particular country is not going to help at all.
Any hope that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would take a less aggressive and confrontational approach to refugees and immigration more generally was dispelled by his speech today. Cruel, combative, unpleasant, misrepresentative and especially vicious towards Albanians, Sunak set out steps his government would take to punish and criminalise refugees.
Sunak repeatedly referred to “fairness” in his speech, but the 5 steps he outlined amounted to little more than increased cruelty and increased criminalisation of the universal human right to seek asylum. They were far from fair, and many have already been tried and deemed unlawful.
Sunak first promised that he would increase policing of the Channel, establishing a “new small boats operational command”, including the National Crime Agency. Whilst seeking international protection is not a crime, the link between asylum and criminality was obvious and intentional and clearly designed to appeal to a specific type of voter.
Sadly, this vein continued with Sunak then announcing this would free up more resources for immigration raids. He falsely claimed undocumented migrants were able to get bank accounts, and suggested that those without status in the UK have it easy. This is far from reality, and even those with status but no visa document encounter problems on a daily basis due to his government’s hostile environment.
Next Sunak said that housing asylum seekers in hotels would end. We hear daily from clients about how squalid these hotels are, but Sunak promised to make things worse for these people by moving them into disused military sites. It was as if Manston hadn’t happened, or as if Sunak actually wanted it to happen again.
Sunak’s fourth announcement was that he would double the number of Home Office asylum caseworkers, abolishing the asylum backlog by the end of 2023. Although any improvement to application processing times is welcome, a more immediate way to reduce the backlog would be to approve long pending asylum claims from countries such as Eritrea, Iran and Sudan where well over 90% of claims are ultimately successful.
Then came the moment Sunak, egged on by sections of the right-wing media, had been building to. He launched a scathing attack on the rights of Albanians to seek asylum in the UK, highlighting how the Prime Minister of Albania had said there was no reason Albanian asylum seekers cannot be returned to the country. It was scarcely believable to hear this, as if Sunak would rely on similar assurances given by, for example, the Iranian regime.
Sunak proceeded to explain how he considers Albania safe and his government will declare asylum claims as clearly unfounded. He then promised to codify his changes to processes and procedure into statute should they be challenged in the courts. The message to lawyers was clear: don’t try and challenge this government.
Finally, Sunak revealed perhaps the harshest part of his plans. New legislation will be introduced that will see those entering the UK to seek asylum detained indefinitely and swiftly deported, either to their home country or to unspecified other safe countries where their claims will be considered. Sunak despicably stated that refugees would no longer be able to frustrate removal attempts with spurious legal claims, as if somehow using the UK’s laws to hold the UK government to account is an abuse of the legal system.
A large segment of the speech was devoted to repeating the mantra that Albania is a safe country, ignoring of course that over 50% of Albanian asylum claims are approved. Crucially though, distilling asylum claims to a geographic rather than human matter greatly increases the risk of returning someone to persecution.
It was telling that mere hours before Sunak’s speech, our client, Tony, gave us the happy news that his asylum claim had finally been approved. 15 years after arriving in the UK, and a seemingly never ending legal battle, Tony had been recognised as a refugee.
Tony is from Ghana, a country like Albania that the UK considers “safe” for men. Tony is also gay, a criminal offence in Ghana. Whilst he could be imprisoned for simply possessing an innate characteristic, Tony also fears for his safety if returned to Ghana due to the homophobia that exists in the country.
Ghana may be safe for some people, but it wasn’t and isn’t for Tony. Categorising countries as safe or unsafe with no consideration of individual, human characteristics greatly increases the chances of people like Tony being returned to persecution, torture or even death. Asked for his thoughts on Sunak’s announcements today, Tony told us the following:
I cannot go back to my country, as it is not safe there as an LGBT person. People are still being killed in Ghana for coming out as LBGT. The government has to know that nobody decides their sexuality, you are born with it.
Telling people that they can’t be refugees because they are from a particular country is not going to help at all.
Tony is right. The government cannot just decide on a country by country basis who needs protection and who doesn’t. That is not how persecution works.
Tellingly as well, Sunak’s speech barely made reference to the lack of safe routes to the UK. Ignoring his Home Secretary’s, Suella Braverman, disastrous performance weeks ago when she was unable to explain how a refugee from west Africa could make it to the UK without entering clandestinely, Sunak failed entirely to acknowledge that safe routes do not exist and therefore refugees have no option but to enter by other means and claim asylum. Until the government recognizes this, and stops prioritizing headline-grabbing over effective and safe policy making, further tragedies in the Channel are inevitable.