Church Leaders from JPIT’s denominations have signed a joint statement expressing opposition to the government’s new ‘Illegal Migration Bill’:
We are appalled by the proposals in the government’s ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ to detain, punish and reject thousands of people seeking safety. They are completely incompatible with our Christian conviction that all human beings are made in the image of God, and are therefore inherently worthy of treatment which honours their dignity. Instead of dignity, these plans will foster discrimination and distrust, and cause immeasurable harm to people already made vulnerable by conflict and persecution. If ever there was a contemporary example of ignoring our neighbour and walking by on the other side, this is it.
When two in three people who cross the channel to seek sanctuary in the UK are granted asylum following rigorous checks, it seems unthinkable to reject them before they have even had a chance to have their claim for asylum heard. Many people fleeing war and persecution in countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan have been left with no safe and accessible routes to claim asylum in the UK, forcing people to make difficult and dangerous decisions. The UK falls far behind our global neighbours in welcoming people seeking sanctuary into our communities, and yet these plans essentially put a ban on claiming asylum and reject the UK’s responsibility to play our part in responding to global inequalities and conflict.
We all agree that we cannot continue to see thousands of people risk their lives to reach safety in the UK, but the solution cannot be deterrence and punishment. As Christians, we believe that we should be amongst the first to welcome the stranger with open arms. We urge the government to withdraw this legislation, to honour our moral and international obligations and to behave with compassion and fairness by establishing safe and accessible routes to enable the UK to play its part in welcoming people in need of safety.
Revd Fiona Bennett, URC General Assembly Moderator
Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union
Revd Graham Thompson, President of the Methodist Conference
Anthony Boateng, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference
Write to your MP
Write to your MP to share your views on the proposals. Here’s some guidance on where to start:
Find out who your MP is – Click here to search for your MP and find out their contact details
Remember to include your address – Remember to include your address in the letter or email, so that your MP knows that you are a constituent in their area and can respond.
Make it personal – Letters are always more powerful when they share something of your own personal experience or beliefs. Share why you are in opposition to the proposals, and tell the MP about any positive experiences you’ve had welcoming refugees and asylum seekers in your community.
Include some facts – It might be helpful to include some facts or statistics in your letter, to strengthen your message. Here are some you might want to use:
- Nearly two thirds of people who arrive by small boats are granted refugee status following rigorous checks by the Home Office. (Click here for reference).
- 48% of people who crossed the channel last year came from just five countries – Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan. Three of those nationalities currently have asylum grant rates of 98%, and the other two are 84% and 80%. (Click here for reference).
- Last year, 16% of people who crossed the Channel in small boats were children. (Click here for reference)
- France, Germany and Spain take many more applications from refugees than the UK, with Germany taking 2.4 times the number. (Click here for reference).
Ask your MP to act – Ask your MP to take a tangible action in response to your letter, including by voting against the proposals when they come before parliament. You might want to invite your MP to visit a project in your community which welcomes refugees and people seeking asylum.
For more information, take a look at our latest briefing on the Asylum and Migration system in the UK.