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Bid to force Westminster to bring anti-refugee Bill in line with Welsh Nation of Sanctuary plan

07 Dec 2021 3 minutes Read
Pro-refugee protest. Picture by Haeferl (CC BY-SA 3.0).

A Welsh MP will today launch a bid to force the UK Government to bring their Nationality and Borders Bill in line with Wales’ Nation of Sanctuary plan.

Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts will urge MPs to support her amendment that would amend the Bill so that it does not “undermine” Wales’ efforts to welcome refugees fleeing war and persecution.

Her amendment would require the UK and Welsh Governments to jointly produce guidance setting out how measures under the Borders Bill would be exercised in a way that is consistent with the Nation of Sanctuary Plan. The Plan was published by the Welsh Government in 2019, and endorsed by the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees.

It comes after the Welsh Refugee Council launched a petition calling on the Welsh Government to oppose the bill, saying that it was “cruel, punitive, and inhumane towards people whose hopes are to live safe and feel free”.

Ahead of the return of the bill to the House of Commons for debate today, Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts called for an asylum system “based on humanity – not hostility”.

“This draconian Bill makes a mockery of our aspiration in Wales to become a Nation of Sanctuary,” she said. “Despite evidence that the overwhelming majority of people crossing the Channel are genuine asylum seekers, Priti Patel is on a war path to make these people’s lives as harrowing as possible.

“After the horrific deaths in the Channel two weeks ago, it is reprehensible that this Tory Government are continuing their attacks on vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. Now more than ever, we need an asylum system based on humanity – not hostility.”

‘Welcoming nation’

Plaid Cymru have said that the Nationality and Borders Bill will “turn the UK into one of the most anti-refugee countries in the world”. It will do this by:

  • Discriminating against refugees based on how they arrived in the UK, stripping many refugees of rights such as family reunion, support and long-term settlement. This is in contravention of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
  • Introducing extreme punishments for people seeking asylum and people who help them to safety.
  • Creating Guantanamo Bay-style detention centres for asylum seekers, instead of within communities, including the possibility of using overseas facilities.

The Plaid Cymru MP said that the “draconian Bill makes a mockery of our aspiration in Wales to become a Nation of Sanctuary”, and seeks to make asylum seekers’ lives “as harrowing as possible”.

“Whilst key powers over immigration and asylum policy are still reserved to Westminster, my amendment would ensure that our aspiration to become a welcoming nation is respected,” Liz Saville Roberts said.

“It would ensure that no Westminster government would be allowed to undermine our efforts to help refugees and asylum seekers to fully integrate into Welsh society.

“I today urge all Welsh MPs to support my amendment.”

‘Conflict’

Yesterday the Welsh Refugee Council attacked the bill as “an attack on Welsh Democracy”.

“This Welsh government has committed to preventing refugees from falling into destitution, by providing supportive public services. But the bill proposes that refugees who arrive in the UK irregularly will only have limited access to public funds,” they said.

“This directly conflicts with the Welsh government’s aspiration. The bill will leave them vulnerable to destitution and exploitation.

“We call our representatives to stand firm on our commitment to becoming a nation of sanctuary and publicly denounce the Bill, through all legislative, media and diplomatic means possible!”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Well said Liz…keep it up.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

As admirable as this call is, it s doomed. Only last week we had a Tory MP calling for troops to be sent to France to stop the boats being launched , not long ago a Tory MP wanted the R/N to blow up boats in the channel, and Patel wanted to erect a barrier in the channel to block boats. These are the acts and words a fascists Westminster Gov who have no interest in helping people, and as for Liz asking all Welsh MPs for support, I think I have enough fingers to be able to count how… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Given the present mindset of the electorate it is best to secure a clean break first and then set out our stall on how we manage the integration of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers etc. You may find that morally ambiguous but it’s one of the subject areas that need to be kept under a lowish profile until the sense of relief post independence gives our communities a stronger sense of optimism in managing new arrivals. It must be done but “horse before cart” is the best way to do it.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

Keep an eye on this so we know which Welsh MP’s agreed with the Welsh proposal. I have the feeling the unionist Welsh MP’s will run away like cowards and abstain like they always do on Welsh matters.

Finn
Finn
1 month ago

I can’t recall anyone consulting the public on this ‘nation of sanctuary’ thing.

Wales should be a sanctuary for the Welsh people, first and foremost.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
1 month ago

Thank for creating this amendment. I am willing it to be successful

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