Nationality & Borders Bill Passed
By Margaret Lally
We are devastated that the Government's cruel and inhumane Nationality and Borders Bill passed into law last night (27 April). This was despite it being criticised as being both contrary to the Geneva Refugee Convention and unworkable by organisations such as the UNHCR. Our Peers in the Lords, with the support of many cross benchers and Bishops, put up a brave fight right up until the end trying to get at least some improvements to the current system and amelioration of the draconian proposals. Lib Dem MPs spoke out strongly against the Bill in the House. But all to no avail. This is how the vote unfolded on some key issues:
Right to work - we got really close on this one. On Monday we won a third vote in the House of Lords. Unfortunately despite some Tories defying the whip, the Government's majority was unassailable and it the amendment was eventually defeated.
Offshore processing Despite a strong campaign again this proposal it was also agreed by the House of Commons. The ridiculous plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is a bit different as claims would be processed under Rwandan law (rather than Britain processing the claim offshore) but this makes it more likely it will go ahead.
A Two-tier system Now for the first time how a seeker of sanctuary is treated is determined by how they arrived in the country rather than why they had to leave their country in haste. Those arriving outside the "official" routes (which rarely exist and even more rarely work in practice) will be treated as second class asylum seekers - possibly even denied the chance to claim asylum in the UK. If they are able to secure refugee status it will only be temporary status meaning that they could be deported at some stage. This creates enormous anxiety and stress for individuals as well as making it harder to settle and integrate.
Last night was a very sad day for the UK and for those seeking sanctuary here. But significant strides were made in influencing MPs across the political divide. Refugee agencies will continue to fight the anti-refugee laws and are asking individuals to write to their MP to see where they stand. Refugee Action's ask is below