We can, and must, do better when it comes to refugees
There’s no easy answer to the issue of asylum seekers and refugees arriving in the UK on small boats, but criminalising thousands of vulnerable people and further ruining already damaged lives cannot be the best the UK can do. “Safe and legal” routes to the UK don’t exist for the majority of refugees, so imprisoning people in detention centres for not using them is unfair, and punishes those who believe they had no other choice but to enter the UK this way.
No one chooses to be a refugee, or to risk their lives on dangerous journeys; it is a status forced on them by war or disaster. If the government believes there are people taking advantage of the system, then we urge them to invest in a better system, and not to frustrate the asylum process for everyone just to stop a small percentage of bad faith actors.
According to figures from the Refugee Council, the majority of asylum claims made in 2022 (75 per cent), resulted in a grant of asylum or humanitarian protection. The Illegal Migration Bill, which promises to remove all illegal entrants into the UK, will therefore force desperate people to disappear rather than claim asylum. Those who would otherwise have been granted the right to live here, to healthcare, to housing, to employment, will instead remain on the margins of society for a lifetime.
These people should be given the chance to recover and thrive, and to live and contribute to our society in peace and safety. The bill also says that “if you come to the UK illegally you will be denied access to the UK’s modern slavery system.” This
punishes the victim, not the perpetrator, and falls far short of the UK’s commitment to addressing modern slavery abuses.
When we create a hostile environment for modern slavery survivors, we prevent them from seeking help, and embolden their traffickers and abusers to threaten them with deportation and arrest. The UK can do better than this.
Ed Newton CEO of Causeway Charitable Service
I read Dr Emilie McDonnell’s excellent column (Voices, yesterday) with great interest. She reinforces the message that it is not illegal to seek asylum, and it is irrelevant how a refugee arrives here. But it is seemingly in the government’s interest to hammer this illegal mantra home, so there must be a pragmatic, fair solution where men, women and children do not risk their lives in these hazardous conditions and give a king’s ransom to people smugglers to facilitate these dangerous crossings.
As she rightly states, the solution is staring the government in the face – more legitimate routes to Britain need to be installed, therefore at one efficient stroke cancelling out the need to travel in small, unserviceable boats.
The government murmurs ever so quietly about setting up this much-needed provision, but their heavy-handed rhetoric lands more effectively in some demographics. Yes, indeed there must a fairer and more humane system, and yet again the powers that be appear far more interested in the problem than proactive solutions. Actually, I would suggest a more effective strap-line to “Stop the Boats” which is “Safe Routes Save Lives”.
Judith A Daniels Norfolk
It’s time for Sunak to act on his words
On taking up office the prime minister stated that his government would act with integrity and transparency. Perhaps now would be an appropriate time to demonstrate those words by directing his ethics adviser to enquire into the email
circulation sent in the home secretary’s name, now denied as a clerical error never seen or authorised. If there is nothing to hide, then let transparency prevail.
John Blake Dorset
How incompetent can this government get?
Not content with some of the most inflammatory language ever used in the UK parliament during the introduction of the small boats bill, and the recent letter sent to Conservative members, we are now told that the home secretary, Suella Braverman, has ignored advice from her own civil servants and the UN in regard to bills legality (News, yesterday)
These are an absolutely shocking set of events. They have nothing to do with curbing immigration, and everything to do with a government trying to save their own skin at the next general election.
This is why we need a government that will put the interest of the country first and the party second, and not use people like Lee Anderson to stir up what amounts to a lack of integrity and morality that itself breaks the civil service code of conduct.
Geoffrey Brooking Hampshire
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