Our grassroots campaigning working group met recently. In addition to discussing our new campaign on a supportive environment – a compassionate and practical alternative to immigration detention, we also discussed the so-called ‘Illegal Migration Bill’, we agreed that we should produce our own brief statement on this Refugee Ban Bill building on existing briefings from others but with a Detention Forum focus. Here is our brief statement. We hope it will inspire more people to get involved opposing this Bill.
A ban on asylum
The Bill effectively puts a ban on the right to claim asylum in the UK. It goes even further than the Nationality & Borders Act. With this Bill any person who does not travel directly from the country they are fleeing would have their asylum claim dismissed, and their immediate deportation would be sought. So, people arriving by what the government calls ‘illegal’ means (eg: small boats) will be denied the right to seek asylum, even though there are precious few safe routes. People whose claims are dismissed in this way would never have their asylum claims heard in the UK, be granted any form of leave to remain or become British citizens. This would also apply to their children and family members. This change will completely undermine the UN Refugee Convention in the UK. The UNHCR says that this measure will ‘extinguish the right to asylum in the UK.’
A vast expansion of immigration detention
The Bill will vastly expand detention centres in the UK, and dramatically increase the number of people being detained indefinitely. It creates sweeping new powers for the Secretary of State to place people in immigration detention, removes judicial scrutiny of government decision-making and strips away essential safeguards for vulnerable groups, including survivors of slavery and trafficking, pregnant people and children. We know the harm that detention causes people; this change will bring huge harm to many people; for more information, check out this Red Cross report.
People will be detained for as long as the Home Secretary believes is necessary to remove that person. This change will stop courts from protecting the rights of people in detention, which will cause standards of decision making to fall further and make it harder for people to challenge these decisions. Previously people could only be detained, if there was a reasonable prospect of them being removed imminently. This change will lead to continued and longer indefinite detention.
No access to release via bail
The Bill will make it almost impossible to apply for release via immigration bail or judicial review during the first 28 days of detention. Judicial review provides a vital tool to people in immigration detention, allowing the Court to assess whether detention is compliant with the Adults at Risk policy, which stops vulnerable people being detained. Together with restriction of the right to apply for bail, this vital safeguard to protect people is now being removed.
This Bill must be opposed – we know that there is a better way. See our plans for a supportive environment: a compassionate and practical alternative to detention.