Illegal Migration Bill will prevent modern slavery victims from seeking help

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Causeway are concerned and disappointed that the Illegal Migration Bill is set to become law.

We believe it will harm vulnerable people, embolden traffickers, put people at risk of exploitation, and prevent those who are already victims of slavery from seeking help or justice.

Causeway support thousands of people each year who have been exploited, many of whom were brought to the UK illegally, either through force, coercion or deception. This law will not only prevent them from seeking help and trap them in their slavery, it will embolden trafficking gangs and heap further misery on a group of already vulnerable and marginalised people.

The Bill, which was developed as a way of tackling the ‘small boats’ crossing the channel, promises to remove anyone who arrives in the UK illegally, regardless of the reasons for their journey.

It passed yesterday after months of debate, and has been criticised across the refugee and modern slavery sectors for its harsh treatment of vulnerable people.

An amendment to the Bill that would have provided safeguards to victims of modern slavery was rejected in the House of Lords by 205 to 193.

Once the Bill has received royal assent and becomes law, anyone arriving ‘illegally’ in the UK will be not be able to apply for asylum or claim to be a victim of modern slavery. Instead, they will be removed to their home country, or to a ‘safe third country’ such as Rwanda.

We also believe The Illegal Migration Bill will force desperate people to disappear rather than seek support. This will expose them to a lifetime on the margins of society, where they will be vulnerable to exploitation and poverty. It will also allow traffickers to threaten their victims with arrest or deportation if they complain to the police, which makes the UK a hostile environment for victims, instead of traffickers.

Amy Bond, Causeway’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Along with others in our sector, we have spent months calling for those who have been trafficked into the UK to be protected from this Bill, so we are deeply saddened to see that our call has been left unheard. Those that have experienced the horrors of exploitation are some of the bravest and most resilient people in our society. Many of them arrived in the UK via false promises of visas and job security, but what awaited them was a nightmare of violence and poverty. It is wrong that they should be criminalised for the behaviour of their traffickers.”