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Sajid Javid
UK News

Church leaders unite to condemn government's 'hostile environment' on immigration

by Cara Bentley

In an open letter to Sajid Javid, they call on the government to dismantle their 'hostile environment' policies.

They say: "It deliberately prevents people who cannot provide the right documentation - for whatever reason - from getting work, renting a home or accessing the kinds of services we all need to live.

"This is leading to poverty, homelessness and avoidable suffering. We believe it is inhumane to use destitution, or the threat of destitution, as a policy tool to encourage people to leave the country."

They also say that they are worried that the policies are increasing racist discrimination, citing how people who don't look or sound 'British' are facing a harder time getting homes and jobs.

The letter continues: "As Christians we assert the importance of offering welcome to the stranger and caring for the vulnerable, whoever they are.

"Many of our churches support those who have suffered hardship because of the hostile environment. Our churches include some of the very people who are at risk of destitution and discrimination. We hear many stories of how the system has failed people and the harmful human impact of these policies."

The letter is signed by, among others, Revd Michaela Youngson - President of the Methodist Conference, the bishops of Croydon, Loughborough and Lewes, the CEO of Housing Justice and Revd Dr Geraint Tudur - the General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents.

Responding through a statement to Premier, a Home Office spokesperson said: "The public expects us to have checks in place to prevent illegal immigration and tackle those who seek to profit from it - however we recognise the experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are inexcusable.

"The Home Secretary and Immigration Minister have said it is a priority to right the wrongs that have occurred, prevent such cases from ever happening again and ensure a fair and humane immigration system."

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