Christian churches and charities say the government’s Illegal Migration Bill is ‘senselessly cruel’ and will have a ‘devastating impact’ on lives. Almost 300 civil society groups and charities have signed a statement expressing concern over the Bill which will now be passed into law after ministers saw off a series of challenges in the House of Lords.
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Church are among the signatories to the statement about the impact of the Bill on people seeking asylum in the UK.
The Illegal Migration Bill will make claiming asylum in the UK via irregular routes illegal and pushes forward with the controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to safe third countries, including the planned partnership with Rwanda.
The statement, which was also signed by the Baptist Union and United Reformed Church among others, reads:
“We all deserve to live safe from harm. But this senselessly cruel Act will have a devastating impact on people’s lives. It turns our country’s back on people seeking safety, blocking them from protection, support, and justice at a time they need it most.
“In abandoning the UK’s moral and legal obligations, the Act risks breaching multiple international human rights treaties including the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights while shielding the Government from accountability. The UK Government has admitted that it cannot confirm if the Act is compatible with the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The Act will force people into situations that threaten their lives – whether by placing children in detention or sending people off to countries where their lives might be at grave risk. Moreover, the Act attacks the very core of human rights, which is the principle that we all have them regardless of who we are or where we are from. In stripping the most basic rights from people seeking safety and a better life, the Act dismantles human rights protections for all of us.
“Either all of us have human rights, or none of us do. While the UK Government’s plans will harm those seeking safety the most, this is an attack on all of us and the values we hold dear.
“The government has rushed through this law despite broad and deep opposition. But our fight is not over. As caring people, we will continue to fight for the right for people to seek safety and a better life without being forced to take dangerous journeys and without being punished for how they enter the UK. We will keep holding those in power to account for upholding the UK’s international obligations. We will strive for an asylum and immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect. We will stand in solidarity with and fight alongside everyone who makes the UK their home and build a society that treats everyone with compassion.”
In April, over 1,450 church leaders wrote to the Prime Minister opposing the Bill, arguing that it would “foster discrimination and distrust” and cause “immeasurable harm”.
Speaking to Premier, Hannah Fremont-Brown from the Joint Public Issues Team said there were also concerns about laws being overturned by this new legislation :
“Unfortunately laws which have been in place for a few years now to restrict child detention have been overturned by the Bill which means that children under 18 will be able to be detained under this new legislation which was something which was very hard fought against by churches and other campaigners which is a real disappointment.”