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A response to the proposed asylum system overhaul

Responding to the Home Secretary’s announcement regarding an overhaul of the UK asylum system, Claudia Webbe, Member of Parliament for Leicester East, said:

“The asylum system overhaul announced by the Home Secretary today lacks basic humanity and represent the latest step in this government’s pernicious demonisation of asylum seekers. It has rightly been criticised by human rights organisations including UNHCR and British Red Cross.

“The UK government has persistently been warned by experts, migrant charities and parliamentary committees that – if they do not open safe and legal routes for people to practice their legal right to claim asylum – then deaths at sea are unavoidable.

“Yet they have proceeded to close the few legal avenues that exist, such as the right to family reunion. This brutal immigration policy, which is echoed to varying degrees across ‘Fortress Europe’, is the reason why 19,000 migrants were reported dead or missing between 2013 and 2019.

“Contrary to the mistruths peddled by right-wing commentators, asylum seekers do not arrive in the UK to leech off the state – Asylum Support Allowance is a mere £37.75 per week. And far from the myths propagated by the Home Secretary in parliament today, it is also far from the case that the UK is overwhelmed with asylum seekers, with Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece and France registering far more asylum applicants.

“In the sixth-richest country in the world, there is no reason why we cannot provide a humane pathway towards stability and dignity for everyone in this country. We must also remember that 83% of world-wide refugees live in developing regions – not industrialised countries – which further reflects the grim, unbalanced nature of global power dynamics that are a legacy of colonialism.

“Today’s announcement is the latest example of the government’s mistreatment and demonisation of foreign nationals. It has sadly been a tried and tested technique of reactionary governments to gild their destructive administrations with a toxic veneer of appearing ‘strong’ on immigration. Yet, this divide and rule tactic has only ever brought misery to all working people, regardless of their country of birth

“We must oppose this callous policy, and stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the victims of this brutal discourse. Ultimately, we must repeal the 2014 Immigration Act, end the destructive demonisation of undocumented people, migrants and asylum seekers, and shut detention centres for good.”