Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s new legislative proposals to tackle migrant numbers crossing the English Channel have brought both condemnation and support from Christian commentators.
The Illegal Migration bill will mean those arriving after that dangerous journey will be removed – as soon as possible.
They’ll also be banned from claiming asylum, from now or in the future - or ever returning to Britain.
Rev Karen Hendry, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Faith Impact Forum has urged the Government to rethink their proposal:
“The proposed ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ goes against everything that we uphold and value in our faith and communities - the dignity and value of all humans and their right to seek safety.
“Nearly two thirds of people who arrive by small boats are granted refugee status following rigorous checks by the Home Office. Many arrive from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan and do not have the opportunity to seek the promised ‘safe and legal’ routes that are open to a very limited number of people.”
More than 45,000 people entered the UK via Channel crossings last year, up from around 300 in 2018.
Speaking to Premier Christian News, Dr Philip Blond of right of centre think-tank ResPublica said migrants arriving by boat had come via safe countries:
“They're coming to this country not for reasons of our unique kind of hospitality or freedom from violence or repression. They're coming here because of our unregulated labour market and the ease and ability with which they can integrate and have a viable economic life.”
Government lawyers have warned that the measures may not be compatible with obligations Britain has signed-up to, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). But Philip Blond, who used to write speeches for former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, told Premier:
“There is a Christian case for safety and support. But you could have almost three quarters of the world claiming political asylum under these conditions and that is not viable.
“Open borders essentially creates massive social destabilisation, not least for the countries where the most economically active and wealthy leave. Whole nations are stripped of some of their best and most talented people, so it's a mistake to think that the Christian response to the world's problems of inequity is open borders. That's just a category error.”
The bill allows for the detention of illegal arrivals without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention until they can be removed.
Critics of the measure point out that Britain neither has legal consent for its deal to send migrants to Rwanda, nor an agreement with the European Union on sending boat arrivals back to the continent.