We urge MPs to vote against the Refugee Ban Bill
Dear Member of Parliament,
We are writing as refugees and people seeking asylum to express our concern with the Illegal Migration Bill.
The Bill, as presented, fills us with a sense of sadness and frustration. It seems to prioritise punitive measures over addressing the root causes of migration, leaving us concerned about the potential consequences for vulnerable individuals.
This Bill denies the ability of people to claim asylum in the UK. It gives the Home Secretary the power to override human rights, international law and the Refugee Convention. These laws were created by the UK and a number of states together for the best interests of people fleeing persecution and conflict.
People are fleeing war and persecution and their lives are in danger. We fear that under this Bill, people like us who have come to the UK to seek safety will be stripped of their human rights and protections.
Imagine being forced to leave your home country because you’re fleeing conflict and persecution. Imagine thinking that you’re going to be safe only to be threatened with being sent back or deported to a country you don’t know, where you don’t know what you’re going to experience. You have to live with the fear that you are going to face again all that you have been facing in your country. It’s devasting for people’s lives, and not only individuals but whole families will be affected.
The Bill is already affecting people seeking asylum in the UK. The environment has been hostile for many years but now this Bill is once again legalising this approach and justifying it in the name of protecting people’s lives, which is very concerning and very far from reality and the truth.
We don’t feel safe as refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. We question what could come next. The instability and anxiety that the Government is making at the moment is not bringing security and safety to anyone. It’s just a rollercoaster ride and this Bill makes it even harder to have hope for a family reunion or the safety of life in the event that you are detained and deported. Anxiety at this point is over the roof.
The panic and fear that the Bill is building, imposing and spreading within people is not acceptable and there is no justification for it. You can imagine what impact this is having on people’s mental health daily, as well as the destitution that many people are facing.
We question the Government’s use of the word ‘illegal’. There is often no access to legal avenues to come into the country. To qualify for resettlement, there are lengthy processing times and strict eligibility criteria. There are so many bureaucratic hurdles to go through before you’re considered an actual refugee entitled to resettlement which takes years and years. If you were facing persecution, you would rather come here and deal with the complexities of the asylum system rather than be dead in your country.
We know the Government’s logic of deterrence very well, but this Bill will not act as a deterrent. The majority of people who come to the UK to claim asylum have no idea about the policies and legislation of the UK or any other country. The main reason they are claiming asylum here is because of shared language, family links or simply because of the reputation for human rights that the UK upholds.
Some people are forced to come here through routes the Government calls ‘illegal’ because they just want to reunite with their families. Separation from family members is a powerful motivator for people seeking asylum but family reunion like resettlement is very limited and inaccessible to most of the world.
If the Bill as currently drafted is passed, it will effectively remove the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and there will be nothing to ensure their safety. This means there will be no protection for the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum. It will undermine them, and they will be regarded as worthless. It will lead to an increase in exploitation and force people to take even more dangerous routes, and it will lead to people using even more risky methods leading to exploitation and more human rights abuses.
We are not talking just as refugees and people seeking asylum but as human beings. This Bill is not humane. There are important questions about international law and human rights but in terms of humanity and morality, it is just not the right thing to do.
We believe that the UK can be better than this. We can foster compassion, understanding, and cooperation. Instead of creating a climate of fear and division, if people come to the UK to seek asylum, we ask you just to give them a chance. Give them the right to work, the opportunity to support themselves and rebuild their lives here.
The time to restore Britain’s reputation as a safe haven is now. We urge you to vote in favour of amendments that will restore human rights, international law and protect people seeking safety.
RAS Voice is a campaign group represented by refugees and people seeking asylum supported by Refugee Action.