New migration bill is inhumane, Quakers say
Quakers in Britain have described the government's new migration bill as 'inhumane' because it would subject thousands of vulnerable people to destitution, detention and deportation.
The bill would ban people entering the UK via irregular routes from claiming asylum or re-entering in the future. They would be detained on arrival and the home secretary would have a duty to deport them to Rwanda or another country. There are also plans for an annual cap on the number of refugees accepted into the UK.
Quakers in Britain argue that the plans will violate the UK's duties under international law. Under the Refugee Convention, the UK has a duty to offer sanctuary to people fleeing persecution no matter how many countries they pass through or how they arrive here.
Quakers believe that people fleeing violence, poverty and natural disasters should be treated with compassion, rather than being subjected to further harm.
This bill is another step in the direction of hostility and away from kindness- Paul Parker
Successive UK government policies and legislation have undermined this principle in recent years, such as the Nationality and Borders Act and the Rwanda policy.
The government says that migrants should use 'safe and legal' routes to enter the UK, but Quakers and other groups have highlighted the huge lack of options for people seeking sanctuary in this way.
Rooted in their belief that there is 'that of God' in everyone, Quakers are committed to working for a world where dignity and rights are upheld regardless of migration or citizenship status.
Quakers in Britain support a network of over one hundred Quaker 'sanctuary meetings'. These meetings work to build a culture of welcome towards newcomers to Britain, challenge racism in all its forms, and campaign to change the laws on destitution, detention and deportation.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain said: “This bill is another step in the direction of hostility and away from kindness when it comes to UK migration policy. It is inhumane to automatically detain and deport people seeking sanctuary in the UK, simply on the basis of the route they have taken.
“The government should focus on tackling the drivers of forced migration by promoting peace and climate justice around the world and ensuring that people aren't forced to risk their lives in small boats by expanding safe and legal routes for those seeking sanctuary."