SIR – As representatives of faith communities, we are dismayed by the current debate around immigration. The long-awaited Immigration White Paper is misguided and disjointed, the promised engagement unclear, and the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill a missed opportunity.
Urgent action is needed to create a more humane system. Refugee families must be kept together, and close family members allowed to join their children in Britain. The right to work after six months should be extended to all people seeking asylum. There must be a time limit on immigration detention, an end to the detention of vulnerable people and a genuine discussion about the often impossible standards of proof required. The first reaction to those arriving in boats should not be to disbelieve their stories.
Today is Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas; the story of the flight of the Holy Family echoes the plight of refugees around the world. We say to the Government: let us help you transform the hostile environment, not into a compliant environment, but into a culture of sanctuary. Rt Rev Jonathan Clark
Bishop of Croydon Most Rev John Davies Archbishop of Wales Rt Rev Richard Jackson Bishop of Lewes Kathy Mohan CEO, Housing Justice Paul Parker Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain Rt Rev Joanna Penberthy Bishop of St Davids Most Rev Mark Strange Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and 11 others; see telegraph.co.uk