The UK government’s Illegal Migration Act denies to the right to claim asylum to anyone arriving in the country via an ‘irregular route’ – e.g by small boat or lorry.

The government claims this will deter people from making these journeys – but in reality it will result in the detention of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children fleeing oppression and violence.

The Bill has been widely condemned by charities, faith groups and community organisations across the country.

The Act has now been passed

Here are some of the reasons we’re against the Bill and how we plan to oppose it…

The Bill is unworkable and inhumane. It breaches human rights laws and takes protections away from the survivors of human trafficking.

The Illegal Migration Bill:

– Essentially abolishes the right to claim asylum
– Strips away all protections from trafficking survivors
– Will result in the detention of thousands of people, including pregnant women and children
– Breaches UN Refugee Convention laws

The impact

The Refugee Council has produced a detailed impact assessment on what could happen over the next three years.

– Over 190,000 more people could be detained or forced into destitution
40,000 children could be detained in the UK
– Around £9 billion would be spent on accommodation for people seeking protection

The Bill is retrospective which means that some asylum laws have changed for anyone who arrived after the 7th March 2023. Find out more here.

We’re doing what we can to protect people seeking safety from the worst impacts of the Bill.

Alongside Just Right Scotland and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland,  we commissioned a legal opinion from Kay Springham KC outlining the impact of Bill in Scotland.

Some key points from the expert legal opinion:

  • The Bill ends Scottish Ministers’ powers to support survivors of trafficking in Scotland.
  • Clause 19 of the Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to remove unaccompanied children from the supervision of local authority and put them directly into the care of the UK Home Office. There is no precedent for this, and it signals a profound and worrying shift of power to the Home Office to direct the accommodation of children in Scotland.  
  • Immigration is a matter reserved to the Westminster Parliament. However, the Bill makes direct intrusions into devolved powers exercised by Scottish Ministers and Scottish public authorities. These are so serious that the Scottish Parliament should have been asked to consider passing a legislative consent motion. We were disappointed to see the Scottish Parliament was not given an opportunity to debate legislative consent.  

READ the full legal opinion here.

Next steps

Alongside Amnesty International, Just Right Scotland and the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, we have written to the Presiding Officer asking why MSPs were not given the chance to debate whether the Bill should be given legislative consent.

You can read the full letter here.

We will continue to campaign against the Bill and we urge Scottish Ministers and Scottish public authorities to take action to challenge and mitigate the impact of the Bill.   

You can read our joint statement, signed by over 100 organisations, here.

You can read our most recent release here.

Read our full response to the passing of the proposals.

Gilly Furmage
Author: Gilly Furmage