Comment

‘190,000 people could be locked up or forced into destitution’

Lucy Nabijou at Haringey Welcome shares her views on the government’s Illegal Migration Bill

Credit: Daniel Schludi

Cruel’, ‘egregious’, ‘unlawful’, ‘unworkable’, ‘grim’ — these are just some of the words which describe the government’s Illegal Migration Act, rushed through parliament without proper scrutiny and shortly to receive royal assent. The act prevents people who arrive in the UK “illegally”, for instance by crossing the channel in small boats, from claiming asylum. As there are no legal routes for the majority of people to claim asylum here, the act effectively ends refugee protection in this country.

The United Nations (UN) has said that the act “is at variance with the [UK’s] obligations under international human rights and refugee law”. Most people affected will be from countries such as Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran; currently a very high proportion of people from these countries are granted asylum. Vulnerable people, including children, survivors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and pregnant women will instead be subject to detention and deportation. Many will remain trapped here in indefinite limbo without rights or recourse to public funds. The Refugee Council estimates that over 190,000 people could be locked up or forced into destitution over the next three years.

The campaign to repeal this legislation starts now! It is vital that we in Haringey collectively step up our resistance to the ‘hostile environment’ policy, including this latest act. We must refuse to collude in its cruelty, and stand together in solidarity with migrant and refugee residents. It is highly significant that Haringey Council has chosen this moment to reconfirm its commitment to “always
provid[ing] a safe space for refugees and migrants in our borough” and to continue developing its pioneering welcome strategy.

Haringey Welcome, Haringey Migrant Justice Coalition, and other neighbours, friends, and colleagues stand ready to work with our council and call on it to provide urgent safeguards and protections to all those affected.


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