A coalition of faith groups and religious leaders has denounced the government’s New Plan for Immigration” (NFPI).
“We believe these proposals lack humanity and respect for human dignity,” they say in a open statement issued on Monday. “We believe it would be wrong to create a system in which the way people enter the UK will impact how their asylum claim is processed and the status they might receive.”
Home Secretray Priti Patel introduced the NPFI at the end of March, with government opening a consultation period to discuss the proposals. Following the closure of consultation, the government intends to introduce a bill to make the plan law.
Patel has said the new scheme will be “faster and fairer,” and would allow Britain to help the vulnerable, while cracking down on those who enter the country illegally. Specifically, the plan would make it easier to deport asylum seekers who enter the country illegally.
The proposal has been criticised as creating a two-tiered system that would punish those in most need of protection. In their statement faith leaders and faith-based organisations argue that penalising those who enter the country “informally,” means abandoning “the very principle of international protection.” The new plan, they say, would make it “effectively… impossible for most people to claim asylum in the UK, because safe and legal routes for claiming asylum in the UK are extremely limited, and could never feasibly be made available to all who need them.”
However, they also say they welcome the government’s “commitment to resettlement to resettlement through the new UK Resettlement Scheme,” and are looking forward to new resettlement targets.
“We urge the Home Secretary to embed principles of welcome, protection and integration into the government’s policies,” they say. “We must treat individuals and families seeking sanctuary on our shores as our brothers and sisters and valued members of our communities.”
Signatories to Monday’s statement include the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas, Welcome Churches, the Salvation Army, Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network, UK Welcomes Refugees, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the United Free Church of Scotland, among others.