New Liberal Democrat Policies on Asylum issues
The Policy Paper has finally become official party policy ! Here is a speech by working group member Suzanne Fletcher, with a speech given by her at the Spring Party conference in York. Full details of the policy are in the document "Making Migration Work for Britain".
LD4SOS began at spring conference 2 years, when some of us decided we needed a Lib Dem organisation to stand up for those seeking sanctuary in the UK, and one of our aims was to work to formulate new party policy.
We were inspired by, and continue to be, driven by the experiences of those we know and know of who had been or still are seeking sanctuary in the UK. They deserve and must be treated with humanity, compassion and respect.
The parts of the policy paper dealing with asylum issues do just this.
Crucially we propose to end the disgraceful practice of Indefinite Detention for immigration purposes, where we lock up the innocent, with no time limit, not only wasting lives, but wasting taxpayers money. Also an end to the inappropriate use of the notorious Detained Fast Track process.
The amount of destitution faced by thousands of asylum seekers is completely unacceptable. Being able to work, as all the asylum seekers I have met desperately want to do, after 6 months if their case has not been resolved, it will restore their dignity, and save public money.
Abolishing the infamous Azure Card which costs too much to administer, as well as being demeaning, will ensure there is end to end support, from when an asylum seekers arrives in this country to when they either leave or get status when they will be able to work, will relieve the destitution.
Outsourced contracts for services such as for housing will be monitored more effectively to end the disgrace of inadequate housing at public expense. Putting contracts for deportation, transportation and enforcement back into the public sector as soon as the current contracts permit can only be for the better.
The decision making process we have for those claiming asylum has no place in a civilised country. We need not just speedier decisions, but the right one's. The papers proposals deal with this. Much better training for officers, including such as understanding cultural differences, and working better, and with more understanding, with vulnerable people will make a difference, as will making the Home office pay for the cost of lost appeals, giving them incentive to get it right first time. Better interpretation services at every stage of the process means better decision making and saves money too.
A climate of fear helps no one, and we say a determined NO to wasteful, ineffective, and just plain wrong projects such as racial profiling and Go Home Vans.
These policies are not tinkering at the edges of existing policy and practice. They are a radical and Liberal new look at how our asylum system works, putting the people who seek sanctuary with us at the very heart of our policy, giving them the humanity and dignity they need and deserve.
The work that we have put into this is a tribute to those brave and dignified seekers of sanctuary that we know.