We’re gutted that the UK Government’s cruel new Illegal Migration Bill has passed it’s second reading in the House of Commons.

The Refugee Ban Bill was passed by 320 yes votes to 250 no votes at its second reading on Monday 13 March. It will now move to committee stage where each part of the legislation and any proposed amendments will be discussed.

The Bill is, in reality, a Refugee Ban. If passed, it will not only strip people of their right to seek asylum in the UK, but also punish them for how they arrive here. This Bill will sweep away decades of refugee protection, which was enshrined in the Refugee Convention following the atrocities of the Holocaust.

We would like to thank all 250 MPs who stood up for refugee rights and human rights by voting against these horrendous proposals. You can find a full list of how MPs voted here.

Dehumanising legislation

The UK Government claims that it wants people to apply for asylum using “safe, legal routes”, but these routes do not exist.

As it stands, people must be on UK soil to claim asylum. This Bill will criminalise people indiscriminately for arriving here on small boats or in the back of trucks, without creating any safe routes to allow people to avoid these dangerous journeys.

This legislation will not help stop people from needing to seek safety. But it will further dehumanise people who have fled their homes, and legally remove our obligations to protect them.

Increase in use of detention

This Bill could leave thousands of people in limbo, consigned to extreme poverty or left isolated in detention centres. We will see more detention centres, the detention of children and families, and forced removals. While people in need of safety suffer needlessly, the private companies running detention centres will profit hugely.

Removal of rights for trafficking survivors

The Bill will remove protections for survivors of trafficking and slavery, including rights enshrined in Scottish legislation.

We urge Scottish ministers to protect our anti-trafficking laws and survivors rights. Removing the rights of trafficking survivors plays into the hands of organised crime and exploitation.

Removal of rights for unaccompanied children

Unaccompanied children will also face the full strength of this Bill. They too will be unable to claim asylum if they arrive irregularly and will be far less likely to be identified as trafficking survivors.

The bill will also give the Home Office the power to exert greater or full legal control over unaccompanied children, despite 200 children recently going missing under Home Office care.

We fear that this bill will only increase the vulnerability of unaccompanied young people, and again, play into the hands of organised crime and exploitation.

We demand an alternative.

This is a dangerous, dehumanising and morally repugnant Bill. Read the full briefing we prepared ahead of the second reading.

We demand a compassionate alternative. We urge everyone to reject the Refugee Ban Bill, and we join our colleagues at Together With Refugees to call for an asylum system which:

  • Protects refugees and defends the fundamental human right to asylum.
  • Stands up for the UN Refugee Convention and the UK’s proud history as a founding signatory.
  • Establishes safe routes for people to seek asylum in the UK.
  • Gives people seeking asylum a fair hearing.

Stand up for refugee rights

You can show solidarity with people seeking safety by joining the Resist Racism march this Saturday.

Thousands of people will also be gathering in Glasgow, London and Cardiff to mark UN Anti-Racism Day.

Bring your friends, family and a colourful banner. This is our chance to show the world that Scotland rejects racism, supports refugee rights, and opposes the cruel Refugee Ban Bill.

Join us in George Square, Glasgow, from 11am on Saturday 18th March
Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah