The Immigration Act – 2015-16
The Immigration Act was passed into law earlier this year. Much of the legislation in the Act will have a direct impact on refugees and asylum seekers. A number of amendments which sought to correct some of the injustices within the asylum system did not pass however.
- A Lords amendment granting asylum seekers the right to work did not pass in the House of Commons and did not receive sufficient support in the Lords second time round. Read more about it here.
- A Lords amendment establishing automatic judicial oversight for immigration detention after 28 days, was rejected in the House of Commons. A government amendment setting judicial oversight after four months of detention has instead been passed.
- A Lords amendment banning the detention of pregnant women failed to pass. A government proposed amendment limiting detention to 72 hours, extendable up to a week with ministerial authorisation, did pass.
- Lord Dubs’ amendment, which would allow the resettlement of unaccompanied refugee children in the UK from mainland Europe, was passed in the House of Commons. It has been announced that no children will be resettled in the UK in the next seven months however. Unicef and Yvette Cooper MP have called on the government to ensure 300 children are brought to the UK by September, in time to start the school year.
Refugee Family Reunification
The UK’s current refugee family reunion rules are very restrictive. They exclude the complex relationships that affect families torn apart by war – for example, people caring for orphaned younger siblings, or unaccompanied children who’ve been separated from their parents. This means refugees who have reached safety can find it almost impossible to bring their dependent family members to join them in the UK.
Indefinite Detention in the UK
The UK is unique in Europe in having no time limit for detaining asylum seekers and migrants. Indefinite detention leads many people to experiencing long-term damage to their physical and mental health. Their families also experience the distress of separation. Detention without a time limit damages the UK’s international reputation for defending human rights.
Work with The Detention Forum and René Cassin, the Jewish human rights charity (and a member of The Detention Forum), to campaign for the UK to introduce a time limit of 28 days for immigration detention.
Asylum seekers in the UK receive £36.95-per-week in support, regardless of age or circumstance. This number equates to 50% of what many in the UK receive in income support. The £5.28-per-day covers food, toiletries, clothing and transport costs and often leads to individuals or families sacrificing one necessity for another – food over clothing; money for transport to a doctor’s appointment over toothpaste. For many with children to support, this low-level support forces them to the brink of destitution.
Work with The Jewish Council for Racial Equality to campaign for an increase in levels of asylum support so that asylum seekers in the UK can live healthily and in dignity.
Calais & Dunkirk
Around 6,500 refugees and other migrants are currently living in two makeshift camps in Calais and Dunkirk. Conditions in both camps, while different, are in many ways atrocious. While those living there – and many volunteers – do their best, there are increased reports of violence against those in the camps, there are essentially no child protection measures in place and babies, pregnant women, unaccompanied children and the elderly are among those living in squalor.
A number of refugees in the camps already have a legal right to be in the UK, but have no mechanism to access proper legal advice. Join Amnesty’s campaign to help families reunite with their loved ones currently stranded in Calais & Dunkirk.