Responding to the Nationality and Borders Bill
The Nationality and Borders Bill is going through the final sittings of the Committee Stage in Parliament.
This video from Hannah Brown of the Joint Public Issues Team explains more about the Committee Stage and gives us some prayer points of how we can pray for asylum seekers at this time.
What is the Nationality and Borders Bill?
The Nationality and Borders Bill proposes to reform the UK’s asylum system.
In particular, it would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission and would differentiate between the way people’s asylum claim is processed depending on the route they arrive in the UK.
Those who arrive via an irregular route (eg. a channel crossing) would be sent back to a ‘safe’ country they passed through on their way to the UK, or they would be provided temporary permission to arrive in the UK, with limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.
In a letter published on 12th September 2021, twelve Church of England bishops, including the Bishop of London expressed significant moral concerns over the new “turn back” policy in the Bill, which would see boats forcibly returned to France. They anticipate that this would increase risks at sea, and endanger lives of those attempting crossings.
The Bishops suggest that the stated goals of the new policy in terms of deterring migrants and preventing people using criminal gangs seem unlikely to be achieved. In fact, it may reinforce criminal activity as the only available option for those seeking asylum in the UK.
HOW CAN I RESPOND?
WE CAN PRAY
What we can all do is pray.
- Pray for the chair of the bill committee. Pray that they will be patient and compassionate in their consideration.
- Pray that they will listen to people with lived experience of the asylum system as they receive evidence. Pray that they will listen to the arguments behind amendments which seek to create a fairer and more welcoming system.
- Pray for members of the bill committee. Pray that they will work cooperatively with one another, and with other MPs and external groups, to bring purposeful amendments to the bill. We pray that they will focus on doing justice and seeking mercy in their actions, remembering those going through the asylum system and their need for sanctuary. Pray that they might be steered by fairness and compassion.
- Pray that the committee will be given enough time to debate the bill effectively, and that they will not be rushed through the process.
HOW ELSE CAN I RESPOND?
Write to your MP to call for changes to the Nationality and Borders Bill. Welcome Churches together with the Evangelical Alliance have produced a new resource HERE with suggested talking points to support people in writing to their MP.
- As a church join the coalition group Together With Refugees HERE which is formed of over 200 organisations calling for a ‘kinder, fairer and more effective approach to supporting refugees in the UK’. This group are calling for amendments to the bill to reject the ‘two-tier’ system of asylum seekers and refugees the bill creates.