Faith groups have signed up to a new coalition, “Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws”, which is challenging the Nationality and Borders Act which became law on 28 April. They include Caritas Shrewsbury and Westminster, Columban Missionaries in Britain, and Churches Together in England. More than 250 organisations, including refugee groups, have pledged to defend the right to seek safety from war and persecution in the UK.
The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) has described the passing of the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill into law with no amendments as a “dark day for human rights and humanity”.
The SVP continues to urge the government to embed principles of welcome, protection and integration into its asylum policy. The SVP states that no one should have to risk their life in search of sanctuary, but the new Act offers little regarding safe routes to access the UK. Proposals to expand immigration centres in the UK is also a cause for concern, as are plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, which the SVP recently described as "inhuman". SVP National President Helen O'Shea said: “This is not the end. We will continue to fight for justice and the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum. They deserve to feel safe, valued and heard, not maligned, detained or shipped away to a country at the other side of the world.”
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) UK has also vowed to keep working towards a just and humane asylum system. It deplores discrimination against recognised refugees on the basis of how they travelled, and criminal penalties for those arriving without documents. The process for fast-tracking asylum appeals in detention is criticised by JRS because “this resurrects a previous system of detention fast-track that was so unfair it was ruled illegal by the courts.” The punitive approach to irregular entry has been condemned by the United Nations Humanitarian Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“Asylum seekers and migrants seeking a safe or better life in the UK are to be treated like toxic waste to be dumped in foreign lands,” according to Professor Ian Linden, a former director of the Catholic Institute for International Relations.
The Law Society of England and Wales said on 29 April that the Nationality and Borders Act will fundamentally change the UK immigration system for asylum seekers and refugees and damage Britain’s reputation as a just nation.