On Monday 13th March 2023, the government’s new ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ had its second reading in the House of Commons. It passed, although 40 Conservative MPs abstained.
What do we think of the Illegal Migration Bill?
The ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ abolishes the right to claim asylum on UK soil. It flies in the face of international refugee and human rights law.
Yet the Bill does not introduce any new safe or legal routes that would remove the need for dangerous channel crossings and putting the smugglers out of business.
The Bill is full of gaps and leaves many questions unanswered. It threatens to leave vulnerable people in limbo. Most asylum seekers come from countries that our government recognises are too dangerous to return to.
There is no evidence that any country except Rwanda will accept refugees from the UK as well as their own arrivals, and no indication that such a plan would even work.
What do our clients say?
Naomi, who was detained after seeking asylum in the UK and who is currently volunteering with us, says:
‘People have hope, whatever situation they’re in. They take very difficult means because they’re hoping for a better situation. If you’re taking that hope away from them, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. They won’t know what to do. You’re breaking that bond and trust they have for this country.
I wouldn’t wish detention on other people because you’re stuck. You wake up every morning thinking “what’s going to happen to me.” Even if you leave detention, you’re never going to recover from what you went through there. It’s always going to be on your mind.’
What can we do?
Asylum seekers are not illegal and neither are they unwelcome. Despite the government’s divisive rhetoric, we continue to believe that our values of welcome and compassion can win out over the politics of division and hostility:
1. Learn more about the Bill
Watch Free Movement’s video explaining the content and implications of the Bill.
2. Write to your MP
Use Amnesty International’s template to let your MP know that you want them to oppose this cruel Bill.
Refugee Action have also created an email template.
3. ‘Click to Tweet’
If you’d like to demonstrate your opposition to the Bill on social media, you can use this ‘Click to Tweet’ option.