NACCOM member the Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS UK) has called for an overhaul of the UK asylum system in their new report, Being Human in the Asylum System, which was launched in April 2021.

The report seeks to envisage a just and person-centred asylum system by bringing refugee experience and policy analysis into conversation with Catholic Social Teaching, against the backdrop of new, deeply troubling government proposals for an overhaul of the asylum system.

Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK, said: 

“We need an asylum system rooted in a sense of shared humanity, not a barbaric rehash of the old culture of hostility. Reform of the asylum system is badly needed. This is not it.

“It is possible to make the asylum system work. But we have to be prepared to really listen to people who are asking for sanctuary. That begins with dropping our sense of suspicion and letting go of the false assumption that everyone in need is trying to steal something that is ‘ours’.

“An asylum system that enshrines protection and transparency at its heart and enables those seeking asylum to flourish would foster such values for everyone. We need to stop treating this as a zero-sum game and recognise that everyone benefits from a culture that values human dignity and promotes welcome with genuine openness.”

Drawing on principles from Catholic Social Teaching and on reflections from refugees and asylum seekers, JRS UK recommends a new set of core principles for a radically reformed asylum system: one founded on justice, designed for the welfare of refugees and not for their harm. The Catholic charity argues a newly reformed asylum system should aim to:

  • Enshrine protection and transparency at the heart of the asylum determination process, in a culture where asylum claimants are seen and heard.

  • Provide borders which are open to those in need of protection.

  • Support asylum claimants and refugees to live in dignity, and participate fully in wider social, economic, and political life.

  • Foster a society that welcomes, protects, promotes and integrates those seeking sanctuary as our neighbours.