The new Nationality and Borders Bill being introduced in parliament today will mean more than 9,000 people who would be accepted as refugees under the current rules – meaning those confirmed to have fled war or persecution following rigorous official checks – would no longer be given safety in the UK due to their method of arrival, according to our analysis of proposals. Some could be criminalised and put in prison for up to four years.
Our analysis, which you can read here, has found that half would be women and children despite the Home Secretary’s statement on the launch of the government’s proposals that: “We should ask ourselves, where are the vulnerable women and children that this system should exist to protect?”
Under the government’s reforms, people seeking asylum whose claims are deemed ‘inadmissible’ will have to wait six months before their application can be processed whilst attempts are made to return them to so-called safe countries. At present, there are no agreements in place with other countries to allow for this, so the only outcome is to add six months to the asylum process, increasing the waiting time for individuals and the record-high backlog. Our research suggests that could affect more than 20,000 people seeking asylum.
Over 66,000 people are currently waiting for an initial decision from the Home Office on their asylum claim, the highest number for over a decade. Shockingly, we revealed last week that the number of people waiting for more than a year for a decision increased almost tenfold from 3,588 people in 2010 to 33,016 in 2020.
Our analysis has also found that the government’s legislation will lead to as many as 14,200 people being held in reception centres that could be offshore, overseas.
The Refugee Council is part of Together With Refugees, a new coalition campaign of more than 250 organisations that is calling for a more effective, fair and humane approach to the UK’s asylum system.
Commenting today Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council said:
“For decades ordinary people have taken extraordinary measures to flee oppression – from those escaping ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, torture in Zimbabwe or war in Syria – having to make dangerous journeys to reach safety in the UK. They have gone on to become law abiding citizens playing by the rules and paying their taxes as proud Britons.
Today this government is cruelly choosing to not only turn away those in need of safety but also treat them as criminals.
This anti-refugee Bill will drive an already inefficient and ineffective system into disarray with even worse delays and far greater expense.
We need a system that gives everyone a fair hearing, protects those who need protecting and enables those to return who don’t. Competence, compassion and control are needed instead of cruelty, cold-heartedness and ineptitude.”