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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Christian groups express fears over new Asylum Bill
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¬† Church organisations that work with asylum seekers and refugees are calling on members of their congregations to lobby their Members of Parliament, as they prepare to debate the 2005 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill. The Methodist Church, the Quakers and the Jesuit Refugee Service have jointly prepared a briefing paper for churches, saying that "many in the Churches are concerned that the Bill, and the policy changes behind it, will worsen the situation for people seeking refugee status, and not improve the accuracy of asylum decisions." They list four specific concerns: That refugees would have less secure protection because of the removal of the right to remain. This, they say, "would make integration far harder and create a distressing uncertainty among many people who have already suffered alienation in their country of origin." That the offence of employing an adult who does not have permission to work "may result in some legitimate workers facing discrimination"; That the tightening of border controls does not prevent legitimate refugees from reaching this country; and: That the replacement of grants with loans for people granted leave to remaining the UK "would provide less generous provision and leave people who have been unable to work and are already vulnerable in debt." The Churches' briefing also lists two omissions from the 2005 Bill: a commitment to faster and more accurate decisions regarding asylum seekers, and the right to work while asylum decisions are being considered ≠ particularly among professional workers such as doctors and teachers. "This briefing might be most effectively used as the basis for writing to your MP or arranging an ecumenical or interfaith meeting with them," says the group. " While all aspects of the Bill and wider asylum policy are important the priorities for such meetings might be: ∑ to allow asylum seekers who have been in the country for over six months to work; ∑ to restore the security of Indefinite Leave to Remain to all who are granted refugee status." The briefing from the Methodists, Quakers and JRS is available in Word format on: http://www.methodist.org.uk and is also being distributed among their respective churches. Source: Jesuit Communications
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