The tragic loss of life among a group of people seeking refuge by crossing the Channel this week brings home the urgency of the case for a government committed to Safer Routes.
A more measured and humanitarian approach is needed in place of the current aggressive and punitive measures which often victimise those who are already desperate and living in destitution 25 miles away in Northern France.
Further information can be found on the website for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Below is the text of the resolution developed by our members in September and adopted by the 2021 Labour Party conference in collaboration with Leicester CLP – Leicester being a City of Sanctuary.
Immigration and Asylum Policy:
Passed at Labour National Conference October 2021
Motion based on resolutions from Leicester South CLP and Folkestone and Hythe CLP
“The failure to evacuate and give sanctuary to many Afghans to whom the UK owes a direct duty of care and whose lives now hang in the balance, throws into sharp relief the wider failures of the Home Office.
The Conservatives have abolished the Department for International Development, removing the UK’s key vehicle for tackling the forces that drive people from the homes in the first place. The Sovereign Borders Bill will make this situation even worse, reduce support for victims of modern slavery and has been branded – ‘inhumane’.
The government have also showed disregard to the EU workers serving in our NHS, whilst unfair visa charges and the NHS surcharge penalises pandemic heroes.
By introducing a cap of – £25,600 for those eligible to apply to the Points Based Immigration System the government deemed many workers, who got us through the pandemic, ‘unskilled’.
In February of this year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) published a Guide to Asylum Reform in the United Kingdom. However, rather than implementing improvements proposed by UNHCR which could lead to a more effective and humane system, Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill will slow the process down further, criminalise asylum seeking, undermine the 1951 International Refugee Convention, increase detention, destitution and mental illness, and will cost the country more while it destroys lives.
The Labour Party must seek to dismantle structural racism and campaign for racial justice in the UK and around the world.
Draconian immigration legislation is usually preceded by negative reporting in the press, with media coverage given to racists and hatemongers. The Labour Party must stand against this vilification of asylum seekers and refugees.
The city of Leicester is proud to be a City of Sanctuary.
The immigration system under the Conservatives lacks compassion and competence.
The Dubs scheme for unaccompanied children was closed after accepting just a fraction of the children promised shelter. Criminal gangs continue to profit from human trafficking, there have been delays in the time taken to process asylum cases and people are housed in dangerous, unsuitable conditions.
Successive governments have exploited the labour of migrants while failing to acknowledge the contribution of migration to our economy, culture, and society.
Conference resolves to guarantee safe routes for asylum seekers and rights to family reunion, work and social security; campaign against legislation at a national and local level that will criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’ way of life; campaign against policies that marginalise Muslim and other racialised communities, working to replace Prevent and; end racialised state surveillance; and fight against antisemitism and work to educate members about antisemitic tropes.
Conference further resolves to re-establish safe and legal routes to claim asylum in the UK; end – quasi-detention’ in sites such as Napier Barracks; and accommodate asylum seekers in the community where they can access proper support; re-open the Dubs scheme to receive unaccompanied children; harness asylum seekers’ skills and talents, granting permission to work upon UK arrival, abolishing the 1 year wait for permission to work; end indefinite immigration detention – which is inhumane, extremely costly – by enacting a statutory time limit; ensure asylum seekers and victims of trafficking can access decent support, accommodation and medical treatment; and re-establish the Department for International Development
Conference calls on the Party and the Leadership to:
strongly oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill; consistently promote solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers and defend their rights set in international law; challenge the racist representation of refugees and asylum seekers as criminals and scroungers; recognise and disseminate knowledge of the contribution that refugees and migrant workers make to our society and economy; call for the implementation of UNHCR’s recommendations on asylum reform in the UK as a positive alternative to the Nationality and Borders Bill; introduce an easy process for all UK residents to gain permanent residency with equal rights, including voting rights; and scrap Hostile Environment measures.
The Government’s current points-based Immigration System does not treat people with fairness. Labour would oversee a fairer, more compassionate system that recognises the extraordinary contribution that people from overseas have made to our country, that rejects pushbacks and implements a more effective approach with the French Government. “