In March, the government announced changes to the UK’s asylum system which will see the claims of anyone who arrives in the UK to seek protection being deemed inadmissible. This equates to a ban on the human right to seek asylum.
These changes will have horrific consequences for all people simply trying to reach safety, reunite with family and rebuild their lives. It could also have implications for people already in the UK, including students in your college and people in your communities.
In short, anyone who has arrived in the UK since the 7th March now faces being completely excluded from the UK’s asylum system. This is in spite of a total lack of authorized safe routes, meaning that people – many from Afghanistan, Syria and other war-torn countries – are simply left with no other choice than to risk their lives on dangerous journeys to reach safety in the UK.
In practice, this means that:
- Anyone who arrives in the UK to seek safety via irregular routes will be unable to claim any protection – this includes children and victims of trafficking and modern day slavery.
- Anyone who arrives to seek protection will automatically face detention for at least 28 days, but there will be no right to release after 28 days. Immigration detention is similar to prison.
- Anyone seeking safety will either be returned to their country of origin or, if there is no return agreement in place, they will be removed to Rwanda.
For young people who arrive as children separated from their families (commonly referred to as UASC):
- Although they will not be immediately removed, this will kick in as soon as they turn 18 at which point they will be faced with detention before their birthdays, pending removal. This increases the risk of children and young people trying to disappear and being trafficked and forced into modern slavery.
- The use of hotel accommodation will be embedded within legislation which gives the Home Office the powers to house children, despite numerous examples of children housed in hotels being missing and recruited into exploitation and slavery.
- People who arrive as victims of modern slavery or trafficking, including those who come as children, will not be protected from removal and will no longer have access to specialist victim support. This would include cases like that of Sir Mo Farah.
These changes might also impact on people, including your students, who arrived before March 2023:
- People, including separated children, who are joined by at least one parent who arrives to seek asylum after March will themselves forever lose opportunities to claim citizenship. This includes anyone who has already received a protection status and is currently on the pathway to citizenship, and who might finally be joined by a much missed parent.
These plans are, in part, a response to the public’s backlash against the use of hotels as initial accommodation for people who have newly arrived. The use of hotels is expensive and has caused a lot of public anger. But this is a problem of the government’s own making. We currently have over 150,000 unprocessed asylum cases. This backlog means that instead of waiting a few months for a decision on an asylum claim, people often now have to wait years. During this time, most people can’t work, are often moved around with little notice and are unable to rebuild their lives. If the system functioned better, there would be no need to house people in expensive, unsuitable, and in some cases outright dangerous, hotel accommodation.
Are you as shocked and disgusted as we are?
It doesn’t have to be this way: take action with us!
Rather than forcing through cruel, unjust and possibly illegal policies, we need a system that recognises the humanity and rights of people seeking sanctuary, one that centers fairness and compassion.
What can you do?
1) Stand up and speak out
Talk to your colleagues, friends and family members and help them understand the horrific implications of the Bill. Share this blog. Think about the students in your college and people in your community. Write to your local paper, call in to your local radio and encourage others to stand up too. This government says that we want this law – so we need to shout from the rooftops that WE DON’T.
2) Email your MP
Speak from the heart and make it personal: tell them exactly why this cruel and unfair law doesn’t represent you. Explain how you are proud of your college for welcoming students seeking safety and inspired by all the young people you work with have overcome and achieved and how they have enriched your college community. People fleeing war and persecution deserve protection not punishment. Ask your MP to represent you by standing up against this new law. Click here to find your MP’s contact details.
We’re louder and stronger when we’re together. Join your local City of Sanctuary group today, work to become an FE College of Sanctuary, volunteer, donate and campaign. Whatever resources you have – time, funds, space or even the opportunity to provide a break for people seeking sanctuary – we can signpost and connect you to the right groups. This is a movement of welcome and everyone is needed.
4) Have hope
Look after yourself and those around you. Spend time with friends and allies and check in with those who might be affected or triggered by these plans. Remind yourself time & time again that love trumps hate. When we come together we can do incredible things. It’s on us to build a welcoming UK – so let’s get started.