News News Our response to the New Plan for Immigration Migrant Help strongly opposes the proposals set out in the New Plan for Immigration. We are very concerned that the proposals are unworkable, will serve to create increased trauma for asylum seekers, establish a chaotic and complex system and hamper the ability of NGOs and civil society to adequately support asylum seekers. We believe that the UK’s reputation as a world leader in our approach to human rights will be damaged by the changes set out in this proposal. We feel the proposal creates an adverse environment toward those who are seeking asylum and will foster a culture of intolerance and mistrust. The reality of the drivers of asylum forces people into making choices in desperation and there should not be penalties based on routes of arrival. We have concerns about applying 'illegal' or 'legal' status based on how people enter the country. The mode of entry to the UK should not determine someone’s rights to claim asylum. We note that Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention sets out that states should not impose penalties on illegal entry. Every human has the right to be safe… if they have arrived legally or illegally it does not matter… both of the purposes are to save their lives... we cannot save people’s lives based on the different choices they have made." We believe family reunion is an integral component in the recovery process for resettled refugees to enable them to resume their lives, as supported by the European Convention of Human Rights. We reject any proposal that places further limits on family reunion which we hold to be both a legal and moral obligation. Any restriction to family reunification and any inequality in access to it, that is linked to means of arrival, are a violation of international human rights standards. We have a duty to protect the welfare of children regardless of how they have come into the care of the UK. Children must be accommodated and cared for as children, with a high level of protection and support. People seeking asylum require adequate time to prepare appropriately and source all required evidence. Speed itself should not be the aim of any reform if it compromises fairness and justice. The ‘Good Faith’ requirement does not adequately reflect the hardship faced by those who seek asylum. A person-centred approach allows the asylum seeker to provide accurate information in a timely fashion within the safety of a system that recognises the trauma experienced. It does not penalise victims or require claims be made in haste with repercussions if the haste causes the claim to be inadequately presented. We have serious concerns about the proposals for credibility assessments to be undertaken at the first stage of the identification process. We believe these will create a serious risk of harm to the mental health and wellbeing of victims, that they will in fact undermine the accuracy and efficacy of the decision-making process and increase the risk of re-traumatising the victim. We have seen huge developments in the anti-trafficking modern slavery sector spearheaded by the UK government in the pioneering 2015 Modern Slavery Act. It is with some concern that many of the new initiatives undo the developments in the sector over the last five years. We criticise the use of irresponsible and divisive language such as ‘… child rapists, people who pose a threat to national security and illegal migrants who have travelled to the UK from safe countries have sought modern slavery referrals, which have prevented and delayed their removal or deportation.’ This conflation between convicted criminals and migrants who may have arrived in the UK illegally, albeit for a multitude of unknown reasons and/or under duress, is intentionally sensationalist and misleading. It is important that the new immigration plan should penalise the smugglers and not those fleeing persecution. Asylum seekers are forced to participate in smuggling activity, such as steering the boats. We want the government to be clear that despite forced criminal activity, they will recognise their status as victims. Men often make the journey to secure safety for their families through reunification programmes. The withdrawal of reunification would put at risk a greater number of families and children, as they are left with no other choice but to embark on a treacherous journey. We believe that the proposal should be withdrawn, and the government should seek to work with NGOs and local authorities to develop plans that reflect the compassion and humanity of the people of the UK. Read our full response to the consultation here. You can take action to protect asylum seekers and refugees by donating to one of Migrant Help's funds: Donate to our Children's Fund Children are a particularly vulnerable group of migrant and displaced populations. Those we meet through our services may have been affected by modern slavery or are awaiting a decision on an asylum claim. Many have been through suffering and hardship. We are determined to do all we can to bring a bit of happiness into their lives and by making a contribution you will be giving them a moment of joy and hope. Donate to the Welfare Fund When vulnerable families and individuals come to Migrant Help for support with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, the welfare fund provides emergency money to buy essential items such as warm clothing, shoes and toiletries. Being able to provide these items quickly is a crucial step in the recovery of people who have often come from perilous circumstances, malnourished and scared.