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It’s not ‘freedom day’ for refugees as Priti Patel’s immigration bill returns to parliament

priti patel asylum seeker bill

Priti Patel’s new immigration bill, which has been accused of ‘criminalising refugees’, will return to parliament for its second reading on 19 July.

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’:

 

Opposition

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 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”:

Activist groups have already been out to protest the bill:

The bill

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.

The impact

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.

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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