Thousands to march on Parliament against new migration law which will ‘lock up children’


“The Refugee Ban Bill threatens to lock up refugee children and criminalise people wanting to rebuild their lives and be reunited with loved ones. It’s a cruel, vindictive piece of legislation.”

Zoe Gardner, protest organiser and migration policy expert

By Stop the Bill

Thousands of people are expecting to gather today (Monday) to demonstrate against the Government’s new channel crossing legislation. The protest, which has cross party support and takes place after a weekend of BBC controversy, will see people gather outside Parliament as the new legislation is debated. It also comes after it was revealed that the new law could reverse a ban on the detention brought in under David Cameron.

The protest, which will take place at 6pm in Parliament Square, has been called in response to what organisers call the ‘Refugee Ban Bill’. The new legislation will close down almost all the remaining routes to the UK, and threatens to detain and deport anyone who crosses the channel on a small boat. Ahead of the protest MPs have lined up against the legislation with Caroline Lucas describing it as a ‘rotten divide and rule tactic’ and Nadia Whittome saying it will ‘pile further pain on people who are fleeing safety.’.

Analysis by the Refugee Council shows that of all those who crossed the Channel last year two thirds would be granted asylum. Half (48%) were from Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea, Sudan or Syrian. Applications from all those countries are granted in at least 80% of cases and for three – Afghanistan Eritrea and Syria – it is 98%.

Zoe Gardner, an organiser of the protest and a migration policy expert with many years experience of working in the migration sector, said:

“The Refugee Ban Bill threatens to lock up refugee children and criminalise people wanting to rebuild their lives and be reunited with loved ones. It’s a cruel, vindictive piece of legislation that’s losing support fast.

“The suspension of Gary Lineker from Match of the Day, and the solidarity shown by his fellow pundits, has really drawn a clear divide. On the one side is the Conservative party and their friends in the media, and on the other the many millions of us who see this nasty piece of legislation for the divide and rule tactic that it is.

“On Monday we take to the streets demanding that this bill is scrapped and that we instead introduce safe routes for people who seek safety in the UK.’

Ahead of the protest Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

‘’This Government’s Refugee Ban Bill is a rotten divide and rule tactic and a stain on the UK’s reputation. It’s no surprise that people are taking to the streets and I back them in doing so. When we have a government that’s willing to break international law, and a national broadcaster that’s bending to their will, it’s essential that the voice or humanity and compassion is heard.’’

Nadia Whittome, the Labour MP for Nottingham East, said:

“’This Refugee Ban Bill doesn’t just threaten to breach international law, it will pile further pain on people who are fleeing danger and seeking safety. Everyone should have a right to be reunited with family and find a safe place to live. This Government is waging a war on migration in part to distract from their shocking record, but it won’t work. That’s why people are taking to the streets on Monday and why we’re saying clearly that we reject this cruel law.”

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said:

“Just like their botched Rwanda plan, this new legislation is immoral, ineffective and incredibly expensive for the taxpayer. It does nothing to punish the evil gangs who are responsible for these dangerous crossings, and instead criminalises their victims.
“This is not a practical or sustainable solution, it’s another vanity project for this Conservative Government. The only way to stop these dangerous crossings is to create safe and legal routes for refugees so small boats are not their only option. I will oppose this cruel Bill every step of the way and I urge people to use their right to protest peacefully to speak up for the vulnerable and voiceless.”

  • The Stop the Bill – Refugees Welcome demonstration takes place in Parliament Square, Central London, today (March 13th) from 6PM.
  • This article is reproduced from a Stop the Bill press release on 12th March, 2023.
Featured image: Refugees welcome demonstration, Refugees welcome 2016 gallery. Photo credit Solidarity with refugees © 2021 Solidarity with Refugees UK

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