The UK Government’s controversial Nationality and Borders Bill has become law after peers in the House of Lords were unsuccessful in voting through vital amendments that would have mitigated some of the worst aspects of the Bill.
Despite strong opposition to the Bill at all stages of its passage through Parliament, which resulted in several rounds of ‘ping pong’ – the process by which a Bill is repeatedly passed between the House of Commons and the House of Lords for debate – peers were eventually forced to concede and allow the Bill to pass before the end of the parliamentary session.
The passing of the Bill represents a sad and deeply shameful day for refugee protection in the UK and a worrying time for people looking to seek sanctuary here in the coming years, as well as those already here. The new #AntiRefugeeLaws will make it harder for people fleeing war, conflict and persecution to find safety in the UK, by creating a two-tier system for refugees that judges the merit of their claim on how they arrive, not their need for protection, and introduces much tougher measures and sanctions for those whose claim is deemed ‘inadmissible’. These include the threat of imprisonment, off-shoring, restricted rights to family reunion and the use of warehouse-style reception centres – all of which fundamentally undermine our international obligations to provide safety and protection to refugees.
The Bill also risks pushing thousands more people in the asylum system into poverty, destitution and homelessness every year. In a joint briefing and letter sent to MPs and peers ahead of the Parliamentary votes on the Bill , Praxis, NACCOM and leading homelessness charities warned that an additional 3,100 refugees would become subject to the punitive No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) restriction, denying them access to vital support and leaving them vulnerable to homelessness and destitution as a result of changes to refugee support introduced by the new Bill. This will add to the thousands of people already experiencing these problems every year, many of whom are supported by members of the NACCOM network.
Applying the NRPF condition to refugees, many of whom have experienced trauma and may have particular mental and physical health care needs, is extremely harmful and exposes them to additional risks of modern slavery and exploitation.
NACCOM’s Director, Bridget Young, said: “In the NACCOM network alone we see around 3,000 people each year who experience destitution and homelessness because their immigration status prevents them from accessing the right support and public funds. Tragically, the passage of the Nationality and Borders Bill means that even more people will be pushed into poverty and homelessness as they try and rebuild their life in the UK.
She added: “We need an asylum and immigration system that is fair, humane and enables people to lead safe and fulfilling lives, not one that punishes them for seeking refuge. NACCOM will continue to work with and support our members in the coming months and years to ensure that people made destitute because of their immigration status are able to access safe, temporary homes, stability and support to resolve their status and move forward with their lives.”
Charities launch pledge to continue fight against the new #AntiRefugeeLaws
NACCOM has joined with over 250 organisations to pledge our support to fighting the Government’s #AntiRefugeeLaws in a new campaign. The pledge, coordinated by Asylum Matters and Refugee Action, lays out what this campaign and its supporters are committed to: a compassionate approach that welcomes and supports refugees. Individuals and organisations are being urged to sign up to the pledge – find out more below.
We believe that people seeking protection from war and persecution should be welcomed and that everyone’s claim for asylum should be treated equally and fairly.
We believe that the UK should offer sanctuary to those who need it. That’s why we’re taking a stand against the anti-refugee laws. We pledge to:
➡️ Defend the right to seek safety from war and persecution in the UK
➡️ Speak out against attempts to criminalise and punish those who make their own way to safety
➡️ Challenge the anti-refugee laws which will risk the lives and well-being of people
➡️ Work towards a refugee protection system that treats all people with dignity and compassion.