Author: Eno Adeogun
Faith representative have called on the government to rethink their approach to immigration and “move away from a hostile environment towards a culture of sanctuary”.
A letter signed by the Bishop of Croydon, Archbishop of Wales and other leaders from the Anglican, Baptist, Quakers and United Reformed Church stated they were “dismayed by the current debate around immigration”.
It reads: “As representatives of faith communities, we are dismayed by the current debate around immigration.
“The long-awaited Immigration white paper is misguided and disjointed, the promised engagement unclear, and the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill a missed opportunity.”
The home secretary recently appeared to suggest asylum seekers should be deterred from crossing the Channel in small boats by making it harder to gain asylum – despite that being a right enshrined in international law.
Speaking on a visit to Dover, Sajid Javid questioned why a “genuine asylum seeker” making the journey wouldn’t seek asylum in the first safe country they entered.
However, the faith leaders in the letter said “the first reaction to those arriving in boats should not be to disbelieve their stories”.
It went on to suggest: “Urgent action is needed to create a more humane system.
“Refugee families must be kept together, and close family members allowed to join their children in the UK.
“The right to work after six months should be extended to all people seeking asylum.
“There must be a time limit on immigration detention, an end to the detention of vulnerable people, and a genuine discussion about the often impossible standards of proof required by the immigration system.”