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Lambeth Palace
Justin Welby Easter 2023.jpg
Lambeth Palace
World News

Welby makes amendments to illegal migration bill

by Sophie Drew

The Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed two amendments to the government's Illegal Migration Bill as it enters Committee Stage in the House of Lords.

Most Rev Justin Welby has been an outspoken critic of the bill and the wider immigration policy employed by the current government.

The Illegal Migration Bill would see all those arriving by small boats barred from staying in the UK.

Anyone who enters the UK via illegal routes would not be able to claim asylum within the country – instead, they would be sent back to their home nation or a third-party country such as Rwanda.

The Archbishop's amendments seek long-term, multi-lateral solutions for human trafficking and refugee crises. These proposals are informed by the Archbishop's prior debate on migration and asylum policy in the House of Lords, his ongoing engagement with the Bill, and his recent visits to South Sudan, Kenya, Ukraine, and Moldova.

The first amendment calls for a ten-year strategy requiring the Government to collaborate internationally in addressing human trafficking.

The second amendment necessitates another decade-long plan for international collaboration in tackling refugee crises.

Both amendments have garnered support from Peers across party lines.

Bishop of Southwark, Rt Rev Christopher Chessun – who has also spoken out against the bill in its current form – told Premier Christian News: “We wish to go further around the speed of processing, which in turn reduces the burden on accommodation.

“The trouble with the bill at present is that there are no measures for engaging with criminal gangs or traffickers directly. It relies on market forces, and it also fails to take a long term strategic view of the challenges of migration.

He continued: “We need a bill to reform migration to stop the boats and the trafficking. Sadly, this is not the bill.”

“I also want to see a change in culture, I agree with the archbishop, that we must control our borders, we must stop the dates, we must have limits for those coming, because we cannot take everyone.

“But we do need a new approach that reflects the contribution made by so many people who come into this country, to our society; we should be celebrating these things.

“There is a lot to give thanks for and there are economic imperatives that play as well.”

In addition to the amendments made by Archbishop Justin, bishops are supporting amendments addressing modern slavery, sexual exploitation, protection for children and pregnant women, and asylum seekers' right to work.

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