A statement on the government’s new ‘illegal’ migration bill

10 Mar, 2023 | Latest

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As a Jewish community, we understand from experience that people seeking safety in the UK deserve dignity and compassion, not suspicion, punishment, and cruelty. Yet this is what people who seek sanctuary on our shores are faced with in this new migration legislation.

This Bill strips people fleeing war and persecution of their right to seek safety, and punishes them, based simply on how they came here. It ignores the fundamental point that most many of the people in small boats are men, woman and children escaping terror and bloodshed from countries including Afghanistan, Iran and Syria. 

If passed, the Bill amounts to a ban on seeking asylum in the UK for those who arrive irregularly. It will lead to the detention of many vulnerable people without trial and punish many who have been trafficked or exploited here by denying them access to modern slavery support.

Our families fled Nazi Germany to save their lives. They did not have time to find the perfect route. They took the path that was offered to them to survive. To turn our backs on these human beings today, fleeing forms of terror and persecution as we did, is to disregard the lessons of Jewish experience.

This Bill will dismantle the human rights protections introduced to heed the Jewish call of ‘never again’. It will undermine the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights, cornerstones of our democracy drafted in response to the atrocities committed in the Holocaust and the desire for a new, fairer, and peaceful order.

Bearing the weight of history, we urge the government to reconsider the passage of this Bill and heed our call. The UK needs a compassionate, fair, and workable system which prioritises safe routes, orderly asylum processing, and a comprehensive UK strategy of welcome.

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