“Denying anyone the right to claim asylum in the UK is very concerning, it erodes the very foundation of not only our domestic humanitarian protection regime but creates an alarming precedent which other countries might follow.”The Refugee Council
By Hector Wesley, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC)
Even though the next General Election could be nearly 2 years away it does seem that preparations for the coming campaign are well advanced. A number of Red Wall Tory MPs believe that the key to reviving their hopes of keeping their jobs are the two Is: Immigration and Inflation.
One Tory MP told the Daily Telegraph on their party’s pledge to stop small boat crossings: “It is absolutely something that we’re going to be judged on and we do need to deliver on.”
There is a determination within government to press ahead with the Rwanda Policy despite vigorous legal challenges. While this is not the only scheme to process asylum claims offshore, it is one of the most draconian. The processing of such applications will be undertaken by the Rwanda government and the sole responsibility for the applicant’s asylum claim will be with Rwanda. Unlike other countries with similar policies, such as Australia, which has implemented offshore processing for asylum claims, those with successful claims when relocated to Rwanda will remain there.
The Refugee Council has raised serious concerns about the offshoring of asylum claims and the knock-on effect this could have: “Denying anyone the right to claim asylum in the UK is very concerning, it erodes the very foundation of not only our domestic humanitarian protection regime but creates an alarming precedent which other countries might follow. As a result, we are likely to see a lowering of humanitarian standards globally and such a situation will have dire consequences when countries are shifting responsibility for refugee protection to a third country.”
BARAC has consistently argued that the UK should honour its international obligations in respect of asylum and that many other countries that economically are in a less advantageous position accommodate far more refugees than the UK.
The PCS Union has proposed a Safe Passage Visa scheme is an alternative to the Rwanda Policy.
At the House of Commons Select Committee hearing last November the Home Secretary Suella Braverman was asked by Tim Loughton MP asked how a 16-year-old from a ‘hypothetical’ country in Africa who was facing persecution could make an asylum application in the UK or elsewhere to stay in Britain. The Home Secretary replied that they could apply through the “safe and legal” routes available. When she was pressed to give an example she couldn’t. The Home Office Permanent Secretary then said to the Committee:
“Depending which country you are from, you could engage with UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees]. That would be a way of getting leave to enter the UK in order to put in an asylum claim, but I accept that there are some countries where that would not be possible.”
As well as Rwanda policy it seems that the government wants to bring back a number of hostile environment policies. The Home Office is establishing an immigration taskforce. As well as blocking access to banking for those without immigration status, it intends to find new ways of checking individuals’ immigration status when they use schools or the NHS.
The admission this week that 200 unaccompanied children seeking asylum have gone missing indicates a serious failure of safeguarding.
Labour has been reluctant to set out its alternative to current government policy on immigration. It knows that any alternative it puts forward will come under great scrutiny. It is hoped that when they do put forward their proposals they are humane and workable.