Many of you will be aware of the government’s New Plan for Immigration which the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced on 24 March 2021 and that it has been criticised by many organisations working with refugees. Responses are invited by responding to a questionnaire. HWR too is very critical of the New Plan for the reasons outlined below. HWR will be completing the questionnaire but we think it very important that as many people as possible do so too so that the government receives a strong message.
Please could you take part in the questionnaire? The Home Office hasn’t made it easy but you will find guidance below. You do not need to answer all the questions but answering any of them sends a formal message to the Home Office that there is opposition to the New Plan.
Why is HWR critical of the New Plan?
1. We are concerned at the proposal that asylum seekers should be treated differently according to the way they have arrived in the UK. The claims of those arriving by ‘irregular routes’ (such as on small boats and in lorries crossing the Channel) will be inadmissible for asylum on the basis that they could have claimed asylum earlier in another “safe” country. The New Plan says that the government will seek rapid removal of inadmissible cases to the safe country from which they embarked or to another safe country. This approach is based on the view that asylum seekers must claim asylum in the first safe country they come to whereas it is established law that this is not correct. The claims of those who cannot be returned (the majority we expect) will be assessed for asylum but they will have only temporary status with no recourse to public funds (except in cases of destitution), nor will they have any family reunion rights. HWR feels that people should be assessed according to the persecution they are fleeing, not on the way they arrived in the UK. Desperate situations force people to take desperate measures.
2. At present, a person seeking asylum can only claim asylum once they are in the UK. This is why people take such risks to get here. There is mention of providing ‘safe and legal routes’ but little detail as to how these would be achieved. Indeed it is not possible to tell from the New Plan how a person might claim asylum in a way that the government considers “legal”.
3. Although the New Plan reaffirms a commitment to resettlement schemes such as the one under which many of our Syrian refugee partners came, there is no mention of numbers as there has been in previous schemes.
4. There are no proposals to enable unaccompanied child asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the UK unless they have family ties in the UK. This leaves children who have become irretrievably separated from their families, alone and vulnerable in often dangerous situations and more likely to risk dangerous crossings.
5. The New Plan will not prevent desperate people from trying to reach the UK to claim asylum, nor will it speed up the asylum system because there are no effective proposals to deal with outstanding claims and to reform the Home Office. Rather it will create a class of people living in limbo with no hope of achieving refugee status or contributing to the UK.
Please try to find the time to respond to the consultation. The New Plan can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-plan-for-immigration. At the bottom of the page, click on ‘Respond Online’ to take part. The plan itself is 52 pages long and in the main questionnaire there are 50 questions in all but it is not necessary to answer them all. On each page of the questionnaire there are arrows at bottom right whereby you can return to questions or skip forward.
Some of the multiple choice questions are difficult to answer because to complete them assumes agreement with the premise of the question which you may regard as wrong in the first place. You can skip any of these you don’t feel able to answer.
If you do not have much time, we suggest these are the questions you answer:
Question 1: HWR will be answering ‘Strongly oppose’
Taken as a whole, we don’t agree that the New Plan will lead to a fairer system.
Question 45: this allows you to add any comments that you may wish to make.
HWR will be focusing on Chapters 1,2,4,5 and 7 and Annex A in its response.
If you would like to see our full response, contact Kate Scott firstname.lastname@example.org
With thanks for all your support
HWR Management Team