Illegal Migration Bill will force desperate people into margins of society

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There’s no easy answer to the issue of asylum seekers and refugees arriving in the UK on small boats, but criminalising thousands of vulnerable people and further ruining already damaged lives, cannot be the best the UK can do.

‘Safe and legal’ routes to the UK don’t exist for the majority of refugees, so imprisoning people in detention centres for not using them is unfair, and punishes those who believe they had no other choice but to enter the UK this way.

No one chooses to be a refugee, or to risk their lives on dangerous journeys, it is a status forced on them by war or disaster.

If the Government believes there are people taking advantage of the system, then we urge it to invest in a better system, not to frustrate the asylum process for everyone just to stop a small percentage of bad faith actors.

According to figures from the Refugee Council, the majority of asylum claims made in 2022 (75%), resulted in a grant of asylum or humanitarian protection.

The Illegal Migration Bill, which promises to remove all illegal entrants into the UK, will therefore force desperate people to disappear rather than claim asylum. Those who would otherwise have been granted the right to live here, to healthcare, to housing, to employment, will instead remain on the margins of society for a lifetime.

These people should be given the chance to recover and thrive, and to live and contribute to our society in peace and safety.

The Bill also says that ‘If you come to the UK illegally you will be denied access to the UK’s modern slavery system.’

This punishes the victim not the perpetrator, and falls far short of the UK's commitment to addressing modern slavery abuses.

When we create a hostile environment for modern slavery survivors, we prevent them from seeking help, and embolden their traffickers and abusers to threaten them with deportation and arrest.

The UK can do better than this.