In just over six weeks, we'll wake up to a new Parliament. Immigration will doubtless be a prominent and divisive issue in the run-up to the election. What does this mean for the refugees that will come to Britain fleeing war and persecution over the next five years? The welcome we give to refugees to Britain during the next Parliament depends not on the outcome of the election, but on what happens once it is over. Whoever wins we need to impress on them, and on the public, that a fair and just asylum system is the right thing for Britain and the right thing for the asylum seekers that need our support and protection.
Britain can and must provide asylum seekers and refugees with the protection and support they deserve. Its political parties must outline their proposals for an efficient and fair immigration and asylum policy, which reflects our national self-interest and the rights of those feeling war and persecution.
Many of the people we work with are relying on food parcels, crisis grants from the Red Cross and the kindness of the local community. After the 28-day transition period, the state no longer provides housing. Some people sofa-surf if they have friends. If they don't, sleeping rough is the only option. And what makes it even tougher to stomach is that it is entirely avoidable.
Imagine a country where, at the stroke of a pen and without any recourse to a judge, a faceless Government official can deprive someone of their liberty and, at the stroke of a pen, consign them indefinitely to what to all intents and purposes is a prison, without them having being charged with or convicted of any crime. That country is Britain. And if you thought that this use of state power was characteristic only of dictatorships or tyrannies, then think again, as it's happening here, on our doorstep, under our noses, without any fuss and certainly without any publicity.
Child poverty is simply unacceptable and is damaging children's lives. Much more is needed to meet the government's commitment to end child poverty by 2020. By taking the actions we are calling for, the government would make a significant start towards achieving this goal and improving the lives of millions of children.
Refugees come to the UK in fear of their lives, having fled the horrors of violent conflict, persecution, rape or other forms of torture or harm. They are met by a complex, insensitive and fiercely adversarial asylum system that all too often lets them down and, by association, lets us and the liberties we cherish, down too.
Politicians on all sides have been falling over themselves to praise former Immigration Minister Mark Harper for his 'honourable' decision to resign, following the discovery that his cleaner was an 'illegal immigrant.' Harper's colleagues, all of them honourable men and women themselves, have been been at pains to point out how correct and even noble he was