Church leaders and Christian groups continue to monitor migrants in Calais and channel crossings to England, lobbying for a safe asylum process.
Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead Catholic bishop on migration issues, appeared on Songs of Praise praying at the Migrants’ memorials on the Dover seafront. Among those with him was Phil Kerton and Ben Bano, of Seeking Sanctuary, who have long lobbied for safe processes for migrants seeking asylum. In the same programme, the Church of England Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, felt British people “should welcome the stranger”.
Kerton told The Tablet that there is concern over the number of asylum seekers who are stuck in the Home Office system and who have been housed in 90 hotels around the country, many of which have no local support group. “Here in Kent there are now well over 100 in the former Gurkha barracks near Folkestone which been unoccupied for quite a number of years” he reported. Last Saturday saw a “welcome” gathering in central Dover “to promote tolerance and understanding”.
Migrant support groups continue to be concerned about the anti-migrant rhetoric coming out of the Home Office, which has been challenged by the Churches.
“The latest attack by the Home Secretary on immigration lawyers does not bode well,” said Kerton. “The popular myth that migrants are safe in France is an illusion”. Instead, he said, “they are harassed by the police and deprived of food and water and it is no wonder they put their lives and those of their families into the hand of traffickers.” The conditions have promoted British members of the cross-Channel network of non-governmental organisations and charities, People not Walls, to organise an on-line petition.
At least two relevant Parliamentary Inquiries are taking place. Firstly, the Home Affairs Committee is looking into “Channel crossings, migration and asylum-seeking routes through the EU”. Secondly, the Public Accounts Committee has more recently begun investigation of “Asylum accommodation and support transformation programme”.