The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the Rwanda Bill, accusing the government of outsourcing the country’s “legal and moral responsibilities”.
Speaking at the House of Lords, Most Rev Justin Welby said the Bill – which would see some asylum seekers sent to Rwanda, goes against God’s call to care for the stranger.
“In the Christian tradition, we are told to welcome the stranger,” he said. “Jesus said 'I was a stranger and you invited me in'.
“In numerous places in the Old Testament and New the command is to care for the alien and stranger.”
During the second reading debate on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration), the archbishop said the Bill “obscures the truth” that all people, asylum seekers included are of great value.
“We can, as a nation, do better than this bill”, he added.
He argued that the government was seeking good objectives in the wrong way, “leading the nation down a damaging path” that impacts asylum seekers and the UK’s reputation.
His comments have faced criticism from former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who says Archbishop Justin has not offered any alternative "whatsoever."
In the past, Archbishop Justin has said the Rwanda policy goes against the judgment of God. In this debate, he made it clear that he's ready to actively take part in examining the Bill with their lordships in the weeks ahead.
The archbishop has said he plans to wait for the Bill’s third reading, after amendments have been made, before voting for or against it.
The Bill was voted through to the next stage by 206 votes to 84.
The Bishops of the Church in Wales have called for the UK Government to withdraw the Rwanda Bill, expressing their "deep concerns" about the proposed legislation in a joint statement.
"We remain convinced that there is a strong moral argument that sending human beings to a third country abdicates responsibility. Our faith moves us to call on all those involved to ensure that the interests of those who are most in need are never overlooked. We urge the government to withdraw this legislation."