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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Give refugees a chance to integrate, pleads Bishop O'Donoghue
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¬†On the 19 July, the government announced an end to the status of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to those asylum seekers granted refugee status. Instead refugees would be given Leave to Remain for five years, after which their status will be reviewed with the view to returning them to their home countries if conditions are safe. The new policy will take effect on 30 August. The right of appeal against a revocation of Leave to Remain is contained in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill currently in Parliament. In response to the announcement, Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster, Chairman of the Office for Refugee, Catholic Bishops' Conference said: This seems like a case of one step forward two steps back. It was not so long ago that the government said refugees needed stability to them rebuild their lives and integrate into British society. Today the government proposes to remove the very essence of stability - settlement ≠ without which refugees and their families cannot live normal lives. This change of policy is difficult to comprehend. It contradicts everything the government says in terms of helping refugees integrate. How is it possible for refugees to get jobs, care for their families and integrate, knowing that at some time in the future they might be sent back? This is not some complex political conundrum, its simple humanity: if we recognise someone as a refugee, then it's only right that we support the person to rebuild his/her shattered life, not leave the person in limbo. The government says that it will only send refugees back if there is "non-temporary and significant change" in the country of origins. The UNHCR suggests that "the change which has taken place must be fundamental, not a mere transitory change in the facts surrounding the individual refugee's fear". The government should consider this view very carefully. I ask people of goodwill to lobby your MPs to support the Early Day Motion proposed by Neil Gerard MP, urging the government to restore Indefinite Leave to Remain to recognised refugees.
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