Scottish Refugee Council submitted a response to the UK Government’s consultation on the New Plan for Immigration on 6 May 2021.
Our response did not follow the outsourced consultation’s format, which we judged to contain leading questions and give insufficient room for written response.
Our response, which we submitted as a Word document, can be found below.
Key points from our response include:
The New Plan is at its core, a plan to threaten the very principle of refugee protection in the UK. Its policies stem from the premise of focusing on the routes taken to seek protection, rather than the war, terror and persecution a person may be fleeing from. This Plan also threatens the right to claim asylum based on family reunion.
Its justifications for these inhumane and cruel changes are not founded on evidence, and would have huge implications for the lives and wellbeing of people seeking protection.
The Plan’s proposed two-tier system based on how people arrive in the UK shows blatant disregard for the reality of the situation facing people seeking protection. This essentially ends the UK’s relationship with international refugee law, and presents a seismic change to the asylum system.
The Plan also proposes to house people seeking protection in ‘one stop’ holding centres. We are deeply concerned that these centres have the potential to resemble the appalling conditions at Napier and Penally barracks. This is a hardening of the hostile environment against people seeking safety and the chance to rebuild their lives in the UK.
The New Plan reflects a deeper insularity by this UK government in the post-Brexit world it has taken the country into. Externally, the New Plan betrays any notion of Global Britain and internally, it is another example of policy being created in parallel to, not with, those with experience of the asylum system, or the local and devolved governments of the UK.
Letter to the Prime Minister
On 26 April 2021, we sent a letter to the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Scotland outlining our deep concerns about these proposals. The letter was signed by over 80 charities, community and belief groups across Scotland.
Letters from other organisations
Our partners and colleagues across the refugee rights sector also coordinated letters to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary about the New Plan. Read letters and statements below from
The UNHCR UK has issued legal advice, warning that these plans risk breaching international law. Their full observations are available on the UNHCR website.
“At the heart of the plan is a two-tier approach to asylum, differentiating between those entering by legal routes, like resettlement, and those arriving spontaneously or having passed through countries deemed safe. For the latter, attempts at transfer to other safe third countries would be made, and, if impossible within six months, access to asylum would be provided. But a successful claim would only offer temporary status, up to 30 months, with abridged rights and benefits, regularly reviewed, and the threat of removal.”
“The right to seek asylum is universal and does not depend on the mode of arrival; asylum-seekers are often forced to arrive unauthorised. Under the Convention, states must grant asylum -seekers access to their territory and fair procedures. They may be returned to where they have, or could have, sought asylum and could still access a fair procedure and receive humane treatment but doing so requires important safeguards, without which the new plan simply risks “externalising” UK obligations, and shifting its responsibility.”
Together With Refugees
We are a member of a new coalition, Together With Refugees. Over 100 organisations, belief and community groups have signed up to the initiative, which aims to offer a positive vision of what a humane and just asylum system can be.
More information, including details of how your organisation can join the coalition, is available here: https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk/
The New Plan was, as expected, introduced in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 11 May 2021.
We expect the New Plan to be debated in parliament on Monday 17 May 2021, as part of the Home Affairs Debate.
We, along with partners in the sector and those with experience of the asylum system, will continue to monitor the Plan’s progress, and Home Office activity around the parts of the plan which may not require legislation.
Any further updates will be posted to this section of the website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]