Church urges UK Government to reconsider asylum seekers' bill
Published on 7 March 2023 1 minute read
The Church of Scotland is urging the UK Government to reconsider its plan to pass a bill aimed at preventing asylum seekers and refugees who cross the English Channel by boat from being considered for asylum or remaining in the country.
Rev Karen Hendry, convener of the Church of Scotland's Faith Impact Forum, expressed the General Assembly's long-held position on the issue, saying:
"I am deeply concerned by the growing hostility towards people seeking safety both in the way they are viewed and, as displayed today, in policy by the UK Government.
"The proposed ‘Illegal Migration Bill' goes against everything that we uphold and value in our faith and communities - the dignity and value of all humans and their right to seek safety when their lives are threatened and torn apart.
"We urge the UK Government to rethink their proposal and take a sharp U-turn. This bill will not just strip people fleeing war and persecution of their right to seek safety in the UK but punish them, based simply on how they came here, not whether they need protection from war and persecution.
"If someone risks their life in search for safety then we must assume that what they are leaving is worse by far and grant them the right to prove their case.
"Only a tiny fraction of people fleeing their own country make their way to the United Kingdom. We have a responsibility to share the duty of offering hospitality for those seeking sanctuary along with all the other nations of the world. If every country adopted a policy of closed borders to refugees, then ordinary people would be left at the mercy of warlords, terrorists and dictators."
"Nearly two thirds of people who arrive by small boats are granted refugee status following rigorous checks by the Home Office. Many arrive from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan and do not have the opportunity to seek the promised ‘safe and legal' routes that are open to a very limited number of people.
"We strongly oppose this bill and will continue to work with partners and in our local communities to ensure Scotland is a welcoming and safe place for all."