On March 24, Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled the government's 'New Plan for Immigration' policy paper. It proposes that only people arriving to the UK through official routes, like resettlement schemes, will be permitted to settle in the UK permanently.
If put into place, this policy would deny refugee status to anyone who passes through a third 'safe' country before arrival to the UK. Anyone who makes a clandestine journey to the UK will be granted a new 'temporary protection status'.
This temporary status will make it nearly impossible for asylum seekers to build a new life in the UK. They will be assessed for removal every 30 months. They will have fewer rights to family reunion. And they will have no recourse to public funds except in cases of destitution.
Article 31 of the Refugee Convention states:
"The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened… enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence."
The New Plan fails to acknowledge that not everyone can enter the UK via a legal route.
Currently, only a very small proportion of refugees come to the UK through resettlement schemes. And, for many people, it is simply not possible to obtain a visa to travel.
How someone arrives here shouldn't determine the validity of their claim. People fleeing for their lives do not have the luxury of choosing how they escape.
The New Plan talks about the importance of integration. But it also proposes accommodating asylum seekers who arrive through illegal routes in 'reception centres' while their claims are processed. Some asylum claims could be processed offshore.
This doesn't add up.
Mears' recent introduction of a mother and baby unit in Glasgow is indicative of a general move by the Home Office towards institutional accommodation for asylum seekers. The New Plan takes things one step further by completely segregating those seeking safety from communities.
The New Plan reflects politics completely devoid of empathy.
When we value how a person arrived to the UK more than the reasons that brought them here, we lose all sense of humanity.
When those who look to us for protection are forced into a system that perpetuates fear and anxiety, we turn our backs on the most vulnerable members of society.
When we take away a person's ability to be reunited with their family or plan for the future, we lose all compassion.
Visit New Plan for Immigration to take part in the public consultation.
Sign the petition against the New Plan.