Kindertransport refugee and peer Lord Alf Dubs has led criticism of the government’s plans to overhaul the asylum system.
People who arrive in the UK illegally will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive legally under the Home Office plans, leading charities to criticise the changes for judging claimants on how they arrived and not just on merit.
In the Commons, Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed to tackle the issue “head-on” as she announced a “comprehensive, fair but firm” plan which would address those entering the UK “illegally”.”
Refugee activist and Labour peer Lord Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a child on the Kindertransport scheme, criticised the plans, saying: “Removing legal routes to safety doesn’t prevent criminality – it fuels it.”
He said on Twitter: “The Home Office has closed the only two legal routes for refugee children stranded in Europe, including lone children and those with family here, to seek asylum in the UK. This is not ‘fair but firm’ – it keeps families apart and lacks compassion.”
Lord Dubs has been a leading voice in the campaign for child refugees, with his ‘Dubs Amendment’ unsuccessfully seeking to allow in unaccompanied minors into the UK.
Patel’s plans were also criticised by charities such as Migrant Voice, the British Red Cross, Refugee Action, Freedom from Torture and the Catholic group, Jesuit Refugee Service.
The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) also joined the chorus of criticism, saying it “is deeply concerned” by the plans which “would result in the cruel creation of a two-tier system, which would seek to divide vulnerable people through the routes in which they have fled to the this country to escape persecution and conflict.”
While welcoming the “government’s commitment to improving the UK’s resettlement schemes” Jcore said Patel’s “ill-judged pledges to remove asylum seekers who have entered the UK after passing through a “safe country” are a shameful attack on international refugee law”.
It added that “under such plans, many Jewish refugees who fled to the UK from mainland Europe in the 1930s”, including Lord Dubs, “would not have been provided with protections.”
The Home Office said it will maintain safe and legal routes for refugees in need of protection and will continue a long-term commitment of resettling refugees “as capacity allows”, with immediate indefinite leave to remain in the UK granted to those arriving in this manner.
The UK resettled almost 25,000 refugees between 2015 and 2019, with around half being children.
Where to start with Patel's 'overhaul' of the rules regarding asylum, announcement today?
— Alf Dubs (@AlfDubs) March 24, 2021
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