Dear Prime Minister

8 July 2024: Asylum Matters: Joint Public Letter to the Incoming Prime Minister

Today, 300 organisations and over 500 individuals have written to the incoming Prime Minister urging him to fix our broken asylum system and to protect, rather than punish, people seeking safety.

Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on your election results on 4th July and on forming the new Government. We look forward to working with you.

We are writing to you as grassroots organisations and individuals grounded firmly in our communities across the UK. We are proud to welcome people seeking safety. For years, we have stepped in to support people who have been targeted and brutalised by hostile policies. We are now calling on your Government to take a new approach: protecting people seeking safety, rather than punishing them for political gain. 

The asylum system in the UK is fundamentally broken. Currently, people seeking asylum here, who have been forced from their homes due to war or persecution and made to endure perilous journeys to find safety, are barely surviving in poverty. Successive pieces of unworkable, cruel legislation have effectively extinguished the right to seek asylum in the UK, creating an ever-growing ‘perma-backlog’ of tens of thousands of people. Some are being retraumatised in open-prison camps on barracks or barges. Others are left in overcrowded hostels with their mental health deteriorating whilst they are banned from finding employment. And Channel fatalities are at unthinkable levels, with a 450% increase in deaths at our border in the past twelve months.

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

We are recommending some clear and tangible steps that you can take as a new Government to fix our broken asylum system, so that people forcibly displaced from their homes can rebuild their lives in safety and dignity, find care and belonging in our communities, and participate in our economy and society. 

We are calling on you to urgently:

  • Restore the right to seek asylum in the UK in line with international law, by repealing the Illegal Migration Act and the Nationality and Borders Act;
  • Open safe routes for people seeking asylum to reach the UK so that people are not forced to risk their lives in the Channel, including providing visa routes, enabling families to reunite safely, and rebuilding refugee resettlement;
  • Abandon offshore processing, including the Rwanda scheme, and ensure that people are able to have their cases processed in the UK in a fair and timely way;
  • Resolve the legal aid crisis and ensure that everyone has access to good quality legal advice;
  • House people seeking asylum in communities, not camps, and close down all institutional accommodation including barracks, barges, hotels and hostels which cause unnecessary lasting harm at an eye-watering cost to the taxpayer whilst community-based accommodation is available;
  • Restore the right to work for people seeking asylum within six months of arrival so people can rebuild their lives in dignity and contribute £1.2 billion to the UK economy;
  • Increase asylum support rates so people seeking safety are not locked into poverty and forced to choose between essentials like food and toiletries;
  • End the use of immigration detention which restricts people’s freedom and liberty and causes immense harm to people’s physical and mental health;
  • End the use of harmful rhetoric aimed at people seeking asylum, which contributes to a hostile environment which includes violence by far-right groups, and instead lead by example by promoting messages of compassion and welcome towards people seeking safety.

We believe that you can begin the vital work of building a compassionate refugee protection system in your first 100 days as a new Government. We hope we can work together to fix our broken asylum system, uphold human rights and ensure people seeking safety are treated with respect and dignity.

Signed: many organisations including QARN

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