WelCom June/July 2021
Bishops in the United Kingdom have spoken out against the British government’s New Plan for Immigration, which they claim will create a ‘two-tier’ system for asylum seekers.
Bishop Paul McAleenan, from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and Bishop William Nolan, Chair of the Scottish Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, have written to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the UK official in charge of immigration and security matters.
In their letter, the bishops call on the British government to provide ‘a generous response to those driven from their homes by the many challenges facing our world today, such as poverty, conflict, or the climate emergency.’
The bishops point to three areas of the New Plan for Immigration of particular concern: the creation of a two-tier asylum system, community sponsorship and resettlement, and human trafficking.
‘Creating arbitrary divisions based on people’s method of entry will have profound implications for those who need our support most. We know that many families and individuals have no choice in the route that they take and to penalise them on this basis dangerously undermines the principle of asylum,’ the bishops wrote. ‘We oppose any move to treat differently those forced to risk their lives or make difficult journeys to reach safety and those who are selected for organised resettlement routes,’ the letter continues.
As for community sponsorship, the bishops noted that parishes across the UK have been at the forefront of welcoming people through community sponsorship. Their letter calls for more ambitious targets and substantial support for people entering the UK through this route.
Finally, the bishops said they believed in tackling trafficking through ‘combining a strong response to organised crime, with the opening of more safe and legal routes to sanctuary, while ensuring that victims are never criminalised.’