Yesterday, the government’s Illegal Migration Bill passed through the House of Commons by 289 votes to 230. It will now be voted on in the House of Lords.
Amy O’Shea, trainee solicitor in our Immigration, Asylum and Nationality team, comments:
The passing of the Illegal Migration Bill is deeply saddening, and marks yet another shameful day for the UK in its treatment of migrants.
The Bill intends to stop all of those arriving in the UK ‘illegally’ from being able to make asylum or human rights claims here at all, even where they have genuine claims. It punishes refugees for the way they reached the UK, despite the fact these individuals are fleeing persecution in their home country, often with limited documents, resources and finances.
The Bill puts the UK in opposition to its international obligations and conventions to which it was a founding signatory – the Refugee Convention and the European Convention of Human Rights, both rooted in history of the atrocities of war and genocide. However, beyond being in contravention to the law, the Bill is inhumane in its complete lack of compassion or care for those fleeing persecution.
The government rhetoric is that those seeking asylum should use ‘safe and legal routes’ to reach the UK. Yet the Home Secretary herself could not name these routes when asked by the Home Affairs Committee – which is hardly surprising given that these routes do not exist for the vast majority of asylum seekers. If the government truly wanted to ‘stop the boats’, the first step would be to create a genuinely safe passage for asylum seekers and migrants. Nearly eight years since Alan Kurdi drowned, the words of Somali British poet Warsan Shire resonate more than ever: ‘No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land’.
Bindmans will continue to fight for our clients, and asylum seekers, refugees and migrants more widely to have the dignity, respect and safety they deserve in the UK.