Britain has ‘moral responsibility’ to accept Syrian refugees, say Church leaders

Church leaders are urging David Cameron to rethink government policy on Britain accepting Syrian refugees.

Forty-eight Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic and United Reformed Church leaders from across Great Britain have written an open letter to the Prime Minister acknowledging the significant role that Britain has played in providing funds for refugees in countries around Syria. However, the letter also speaks of the ‘moral responsibility’ to resettle a significant number of refugees in Britain. The letter criticises the Government’s initial commitment as falling a long way short of the contribution Britain should make given its size and resources. The leaders suggest that a proportionate figure well in excess of 1,000 would be far more appropriate and point out that following a major conflict most refugees are able and desire to return to their homes.

“We are proud of Britain’s long heritage of welcoming refugees,” said the Revd John Howard, Chair of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District, who coordinated the response. “We have an ethical duty to honour this tradition and play our part in caring for those displaced by this terrible conflict.”

The full text of the letter follows: Continue reading

IMMIGRATION BILL PASSES THROUGH COMMONS

The progress of another punitive Bill which strips away legal protection from migrants and will increase homelessness, ill health and destitution, seems for now to have tri-partisan support. 

The Immigration Bill finished its passage through the House of Commons on 30 January. The third reading ought to have been a last chance for MPs to consider seriously the devastating impact of the removal of the right to appeal wrong immigration decisions, the enormous accretion of powers to the executive, without whose consent judges may not grant bail in certain circumstances, or consider new grounds of appeal; the transformation of residential landlords into immigration enforcers, the denial of all shelter to those without papers. And principled opposition to the Bill, and particularly to the removal of appeal rights, the exclusion of undocumented migrants from the rental market, the introduction of policing duties for landlords and the extension of charges for NHS care, has poured in to the Bill’s parliamentary scrutiny committee from professional associations, housing charities and experts.

However, the level of scrutiny given to these careful, considered and reasoned arguments was derisory, and the level of parliamentary opposition pathetic. A small group of MPs, with Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas and Sarah Teather at its core, fought doggedly but in vain to rouse their fellows. Instead, the third reading became a battle among the wings of the Tory party as to which could be the toughest and which of the Right’s whipping-boys would be the targets – the foreign criminals, the suspected terrorists or the Romanian and Bulgarian ‘scroungers’. Provisions which turn migrants into outlaws, without remedies against illegal decisions and excluded from fundamental rights of shelter and health care, were nodded through. Continue reading

UK watchdog takes another bite out of failing outsourcer G4S

JOHN GRAYSON 12 February 2014; Commercial outsourcers fail and fail again. Privatisation hurtles on. The Public Accounts Committee has been interrogating executives and civil servants about the degradation of asylum housing in England.

Stephen Small spends a lot of his time trying to convince Members of Parliament that his employer is nothing like as bad as they think. He works for G4S, the gigantic security company that holds £2 billion worth of UK government contracts spanning public health, welfare, education, immigration and the justice sector.

In November 2010, just days after G4S guards killed Jimmy Mubenga on a deportation flight by heavily restraining him, Small was summoned before the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee. Disputing whistleblowers’ claims that G4S guards commonly used dangerous restraint techniques, Small claimed: Continue reading

INDEFINITE DETENTION IN DORSET: IRC THE VERNE Public Meeting – All welcome!

Meeting: Thursday 27th, February 2014, 6.45pm

St. John’s Church, Greenhill, Weymouth DT4 7SS

The UK’s use of immigration detention is growing. At any one time, there are around 5,000 people in immigration detention across the UK. The newest detention centre, IRC The Verne, will be the second largest in the country. It will hold 580 immigration detainees, without time limit, for administrative purposes.

Join us to find out how you can help those detained.

Speakers include:
• Ali McGinley, Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees
• Andrew Wilson, Morton Hall Visitors Group
• Tamsin Alger, Casework Manager, Detention Action
• A former detainee will talk about his experiences of detention

Come along to find out more about the realities of indefinite immigration detention in the UK, what life will be like for those held at the Verne, and how you can help by getting involved in setting up a local visitors group to support them.
Contact: enquiries@aviddetention.org.uk to RSVP or for more information

http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/images/verne%20event%20poster%20final.pdf