LAWRS statement on the “New Plan for Immigration”

We have responded to the government’s consultation on the “New Plan for Immigration”. LAWRS holds a long-standing tradition and history upholding the rights of asylum seekers, refugee and migrant women. We are disturbed by the proposals included in this ‘New Immigration Plan’ and the lack of compassion in its approach to ensure people seeking asylum are protected from further victimisation. We are concerned to see that lessons from the Windrush scandal and its review have not been learned, despite the commitments from the government and the Home Office to put ‘people first’ and have a more compassionate approach towards immigration.

LAWRS agrees that the UK asylum system must be reformed to better support people seeking protection, but we oppose the proposals as we do not believe they can lead to a fair asylum system. We believe they threaten the very right to seek asylum in the UK, they will make life harder for those people who do claim asylum here and put people seeking safety more at risk.

We oppose this “New Plan for Immigration” because we believe it will criminalise and punish vulnerable people seeking asylum, including women and children fleeing dire living conditions who have already experienced high levels of abuse and trauma. We are disturbed by the Plan and its lack of evidence to sustain the actual effectiveness of these proposals.

In the last decade, the government has put in place new rules on immigration without considering the negative impacts that they would have on equality and the wellbeing of highly vulnerable groups of people such as victims of VAWG, modern slavery and trafficking. As a frontline organisation supporting migrant women experiencing abuse, exploitation and hardship, we come across the damaging effects of immigration policies and changes on immigration law on extremely vulnerable women and children on a daily basis.

While the government could have used this opportunity to conduct a widespread consultation both with people with lived experience and experts in the field, they have chosen to make this process too quick and complex, and the questions too misleading, to achieve any meaningful results. We are concerned about the lack of opportunities that asylum seekers with lived experience of the UK system will have to participate and engage with this process. This exclusion extends to the fact that the consultation is only available online and in English. Furthermore, the platform and the way the consultation is structured are highly confusing, with minimal opportunities to give substantial feedback as many of the questions are highly misleading and based on assumptions that are not backed up by evidence.

In conclusion, we strongly believe that a fair immigration system should be built on human rights, safety and dignity foundations for everyone who claims asylum in the UK in order to allow asylum seekers and refugees the support needed to rebuild their lives, regardless of their route of entry.

Read LAWRS full response to the consultation here.