Refugee campaigners are urging MPs to take action against the Nationality and Borders Bill before it is read in the House of Commons again.
The Home Office says the bill will make it more difficult for gangs to facilitate illegal journeys to the UK. But activists say it could prevent thousands of refugees from finding asylum here.
The bill’s second reading coincides with the UK’s July 19 ‘freedom day’:
It’s Orwellian that on so-called #FreedomDay, the Conservative government are introducing the Nationality and Borders Bill and are expanding the immigration detention estate. There is no freedom for refugees and asylum seekers. Sickening.
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— Laura Pidcock (@LauraPidcock) July 19, 2021
The Refugee Council wants people to write to their MP to ask them to oppose the bill.
More than 5,000 people have already sent emails to their MPs following the Refugee Council’s call:
The Nationality & Borders Bill, which receives its second reading in Parliament tomorrow, will have a devastating impact on the lives of people seeking asylum in the UK.
— Refugee Council (@refugeecouncil) July 18, 2021
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement has created a charter to call for humane immigration policies. It aims to fight against “the increasingly brutal immigration policies in Britain”:
Priti Patel's hateful #AntiRefugeeBill returns to parliament today. It doesn't have to be this way. We can build bridges, not walls #SolidarityKnowsNoBorders #TheseWallsMustFall https://t.co/9Ei63JNsBR
— These Walls Must Fall (@wallsmustfall) July 19, 2021
Activist groups have already been out to protest the bill:
This legislation would effectively end the right to claim asylum in the UK.
— Refugee Action 🧡 (@RefugeeAction) July 15, 2021
If the bill is passed, a new definition of entering the UK could make it easier to prosecute migrants intercepted in UK waters.
The current maximum sentence of six months for refugees travelling into the country via ‘unofficial means’ would be increased to four years in prison.
It also introduces the idea of removing refugees to offshore centres while their appeals are processed.
In an ideal world people would take safe routes to seek safety in the UK, but sadly it's not an ideal world.
Everybody who needs to should be able to apply for refugee status – no matter their route.
— Freedom from Torture🧡 (@FreefromTorture) July 17, 2021
As well as criminalising people for trying to get to safety, the Refugee Council’s analysis estimated thousands of people a year who would be accepted as refugees under current rules would no longer be.
The council has further stated that imprisoning refugees for up to four years under the bill could cost £412m each year.
The organisation’s CEO, Enver Solomon, said:
To treat vulnerable men, women and children who have put their lives at risk to reach safety in the UK as criminals is not only a huge waste of taxpayers’ money but also a brutal, cruel and cold-hearted response by this government.
He urged a return to “fairness and compassion”, and added that based on polling:
The majority of the public clearly believe that the UK must continue to protect our fellow human beings no matter how they arrived on our shores.
The Government's new #AntiRefugeeBill is cruel, divisive and designed to punish, not protect.
In Newcastle, we stand up for our neighbours. We will not accept a system that fails #refugees.
We are proud to stand #TogetherWithRefugees
Will you? 🧡 pic.twitter.com/PD8GAvbOxQ
— West End Refugee Service 🧡 (@WestEndRefugee) July 19, 2021
Standing with refugees
With everything going on today, we must be sure not to let this bill fly under the radar. And there is a cruel irony with the bill returning to the Commons on so-called ‘freedom day’. Write to your MP and take action to make sure they oppose this bill that will leave vulnerable refugees at risk of imprisonment.
Featured image via YouTube/UK Parliament
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