On 7th and 8th December, the Nationality and Borders Bill will be the focus of debate in the House of Commons. At this stage in the process (the Report stage), MPs can submit amendments, speak to those amendments selected for debate and vote on the bill.
This is a key opportunity for concerns around the bill to be raised, and attempts to change the legislation made. There have been a great number of amendments tabled by MPs, however it’s unclear until closer to the time which will be selected for debate.
At this stage, every MP has the chance to speak to and support changes for the bill. It’s really important for MPs to hear from their constituents about key aspects of the bill, and where their constituents would like them to speak for change.
Why not send your MP an email before the debate asking them to support changes to the bill?
In order to address urgent concerns around the bill, you could ask your MP to support amendments which seek to:
- End the two-tier system – the bill proposes a differentiated approach towards refugees and asylum seekers, based on how they reached the UK. Under this new legislation, asylum seekers who reached the UK via irregular routes would not have access to the same rights and support as those who come via government schemes.
- Support the implementation of safe and accessible routes to the UK – the bill heavily relies on asylum seekers coming via government approved routes to claim asylum. However, these are not currently in place and the government have given no indication as to what they will look like. Changes should be made to establish clear targets and deadlines for getting schemes in place which take our fair share of asylum seekers and have broad acceptance criteria in order to be accessible.
- Support family reunion – since the closure of previous resettlement schemes, the UK has limited routes for family reunion to take place for those seeking asylum. Family reunion is an important way of enabling unaccompanied minors to reach their family, and ensuring that people can be reunited with those they love. Provision should be established in place for generous family reunion opportunities.
- End offshore detention – the bill seeks to change the rules around where asylum claims can be processed, so that asylum seekers can be held outside of the community and even in other countries. It is important for future flourishing that asylum seekers are embedded in the community from the earliest opportunity and supported in caring and compassionate ways. Changes should be made to the bill to move away from this structure and towards a community based model.
- End criminalization of asylum seekers who come via irregular routes – the bill seeks to criminalise claiming asylum if you have travelled to the UK via an irregular route. This is a hostile and uncompassionate way of treating people who have often had no other options to seek safety when fleeing persecution. Changes should be made to the bill to alter this harmful approach.
The Nationality and Borders Bill proposes legislation which will make the UK hostile towards asylum seekers and refugees, whilst failing to address the real challenges and dangers which exist in the current system. We must ensure that every opportunity is taken to make changes to this bill if we are to address the risks many thousands of people are under every day as they journey to seek safety.