Our response to the Government’s ‘Illegal Migration Bill’, announced on March 7th.

We are angry, disappointed and deeply concerned to hear of the Government’s latest cruel plans to bring in yet more unworkable, costly and inhumane anti-refugee legislation.  

We were also alarmed to hear the increasing and deliberate use of anti-migrant rhetoric in the Houses of Parliament – the seat of our democracy. This is hugely dangerous and irresponsible, particularly in light of recent events that have seen far-right rioters target hotels housing people seeking asylum.  

Not only are the outrageous plans outlined in the Illegal Migration Bill likely to contravene international refugee protection laws, they completely fail to address the current reality and complex challenges of the UK asylum system. 

The human impact of this Bill will be devastating for people seeking safety and stability in the UK, with new arrivals – and there will continue to be new arrivals, because desperate people are forced to make desperate choices – made to endure years of limbo and hardship with no recourse to justice or support.  

We know only too well from the tireless work of our frontline network what the devastating impact of destitution is on people in the asylum and immigration system. The Bill looks set to further strip refugees of their agency, dignity and humanity, as well as their ability to support themselves.  

The extra burden this will place on already over-stretched statutory agencies, charities and local partners working in the refugee, homelessness and poverty sectors also cannot be ignored. Whilst solidarity and compassion run deep, resources do not.  

And yet time and time again the Government chooses to focus on deterrence and criminalisation, rather than tackle the global issue of refugee protection with competence, evidence, humanity and cooperation. This can and must start with the introduction of safe and accessible routes to claim asylum and overhauling the systemically flawed and inefficient UK asylum system.