26 March 2021
On Wednesday 24 March, the Home Office proposed a series of unfair and unjust changes to the UK’s asylum system. Home Secretary, Priti Patel, described the changes as ‘the most significant overhaul of our asylum system in decades’.
Her vision for a new asylum system is published at a time when asylum applications to the UK are at an historical low, yet the number of refugees globally are at an all time high, with 80 million people displaced. Despite this, there is a significant backlog of pending asylum applications with more than 60,000 people awaiting the outcome of their asylum procedure. Instead of fixing the system, the Home Office is choosing to penalise people fleeing war and persecution based solely on how they arrive in the UK.
We must stand against this new plan, and work to create a welcoming environment where refugees are treated with compassion and dignity. We understand that our friends seeking asylum must be feeling concerned and anxious about these changes, and we stand with you during this difficult time.
What is the New Immigration Plan?
The New Immigration Plan proposes the following key changes:
- Dividing people into categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ of protection, based on how they arrive in the UK. The Home Office will fast track appeals for those deemed to arrive in the UK via a safe and legal route, and reduce the level of protection and rights for people who arrive in the UK via irregular routes. Although the plan emphasises increasing safe routes, the changes will mean fewer safe routes to enter the UK, disproportionately affecting women and children. Additionally, although it repeats the commitment to resettling refugees, there are no numerical targets for how many refugees will be resettled in the UK.
- Restricting access to family reunion rights for some refugees, depending on how they originally enter the UK. Although resettled refugees will have enhanced protection including permanent leave to remain and enhanced family reunion rights, this is to the detriment of refugees who arrive in the UK via an irregular route.
- Abandoning the UK’s commitment to the UN Refugee Convention. We are concerned about the frequency and use of the word ‘illegal’ to describe refugees seeking safety in the UK. It is not illegal for people to take irregular routes to claim asylum in the UK, and no human is ‘illegal’.
- Replacing current accommodation for people seeking asylum, with reception centres in the South of England. It is essential that refugees are housed in communities, so that they can rebuild their lives.
No one chooses to become a refugee, and this plan shows a lack of compassion and understanding of what refugees must go through to seek safety. This is not a fair asylum system that the UK can be proud of. We must all stand together in solidarity with refugees and welcome people seeking asylum into our communities.
Emily Crowley, Chief Executive, Student Action for Refugees says: ‘We stand against the Home Office’s plan that undermines the UK’s commitment to providing protection for those who need it. We will equip students with the tools to fight against this cruel and unfair plan’.
The Home Office has launched a public consultation on their New Plan for Immigration. We will be announcing further actions, events and information for STAR groups in the coming weeks so you can meaningfully respond to the consultation, and campaign against the plan. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to take action:
- Join us to campaign against the new plan.
- Share a message of solidarity with refugees in the UK on social media.
- Share this statement with your members and on social media to spread the word.
Student Action for Refugees is a leading member of the Families Together coalition. We have shared a joint statement which provides more detail about the impact on family reunification rules for refugees in the UK.