News

Lib Dems announce proposals to fix broken immigration system

We welcome the official announcement below today by Christine Jardine of the Lib Dem fair and effective immigration and asylum system.   Note the link at the end to further information.

These key points are part of a raft of Lib Dem policies on asylum and refugee issues.  You can see more detail through these links to our mini manifesto on these issues http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/330 and our policy briefings here http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/category/documents

Lib Dems announce proposals to fix broken immigration system

The Liberal Democrats have unveiled their Plan for Immigration and Asylum. The plan sets out the party’s ambitious proposals for a fair, effective immigration system – part of the Liberal Democrats’ broader plan to build a brighter future.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will outline plans to reform and strengthen our immigration system by:

  • Saving EU free movement and safeguarding the rights of UK and EU citizens.
  • Scrapping the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment.
  • Investing in officers, training and technology to prevent illegal entry at Britain’s borders, assist seekers of sanctuary and combat human trafficking and the smuggling of people, weapons, drugs and wildlife.
  • Making detention an absolute last resort, with a 28-day time limit.
  • Resettling 10,000 vulnerable refugees each year, and a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years.

Announcing the plan, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

“The UK’s immigration system is broken and it is hurting everyone. Employers can’t recruit the workers they need. People are wrongly denied access to healthcare and housing, detained and even deported. Public confidence in the system has been shattered.

“Decades of hostile policies and rhetoric from Labour and Conservative governments have created a system that no one trusts, and that fails to respect people’s dignity. Now both Labour and the Conservatives want to make it all much worse by delivering Brexit and ending free movement.

“Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future, with a fair, effective immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect. We will scrap the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment, restore dignity and common sense, and stop Brexit to save free movement.”

Further details about the Liberal Democrats’ Plan for Immigration and Asylum can be found here

https://www.libdems.org.uk/plan-immigration?fbclid=IwAR0ft9I6oiSj3JQgNbPxMyPnf6rgYD8rheBqPWUQpLd85ijL7wKASvyR8qM

WHATEVER THE ISSUE AROUND ASYLUM AND REFUGEES – LIB DEMS HAVE A POLICY ON IT!

Obviously issues around refugees and asylum seekers are not top of the agenda in this election, but the issues often get raised at hustings, particularly those in places of worship, and those asking are the sort of people who vote, and tell others.

We have done a “mini manifesto” based on Lib Dem policies on these issues that is handy to have for quick reference. It is on our website here http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/330.

Also we have detailed briefings on issues in more detail. For instance on detention, right to work, decision making, Family Reunion, and LGBT+ issues affecting asylum seekers. Also on Refugees, including unaccompanied children. They are in our “documents” section of our website, here, http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/category/documents

We are happy to send word documents or PDFs of any of these. If issues come up in the campaign, or you are asked questions, please do get in touch at info@ld4sos.org.uk and we will do what we can to help.

A huge amount of time and effort has gone into making these policies, and condensing into handy formats. They are there to use. For very many years Lord Roger Roberts has been campaigning for the right of asylum seekers to work. We made our policy on ending indefinite detention for immigration purposes, along with many other issues, in 2014. These were expanded and new one’s added in 2018. With policies on “Safe Routes for Refugees” and “Communicating in English” being added in between. Our policies reflect our Liberal Democrat values too. Details may change, our values don’t.

Don’t let Labour or anyone else steal credit for our policies.

Restoration of Legal Aid for asylum seekers

Letter to The Guardian from Lord Roger Roberts.  Not published, but here it is :

Your article in the Long Read https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/nov/01/dizzying-maze-uk-immigration-system-hostile-environment rightly highlights the issue of justice not being available to those seeking asylum in a complex legal system, leading to terrible consequences for many.

Liberal Democrats have deep concerns about the situation and last year made it part of their policy to “ support restoring the arrangements for legal aid for seekers of sanctuary that existed before The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012.”

Treating asylum seekers with respect, dignity and with justice, is at the heart of what we believe.

November Election Special Newsletter

Here is our November election special newsletter, giving links to our mini manifesto on asylum and refugee issues, that will be needed for the general election, so please pass onto candidates in your area.

November 2019 Newsletter Election Special

Also there is information on the latest news and how it links in with established Lib Dem policies.

Good campaigning !

VOTING IN THE GENERAL ELECTION

Please share this with people who might not be registered to vote, as they are relatively recent refugees.

NOTE if they have leave to remain, and do not have to have citizenship, but are from a commonwealth country, they can register to vote.
WILL YOU HAVE A VOTE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION ?

There is a lot of information about registering to vote here :https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

If not already registered, you need to do so by midnight on 26 November to vote in the General Election on 12 December.

If you want to apply to vote by post, register before 5pm on 26 November if you live in England, Scotland or Wales.

If you’re going to be abroad on election day, you can apply to vote by proxy after you’ve registered. It takes time to vote by post from overseas.

Who can register

You can register if you’re a UK citizen (or an Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address).

So anyone who has leave to remain in the UK, but not yet got British Citizenship, can register as a commonwealth citizen.

There is a full list of who qualifies as a commonwealth citizen here:

https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/register-vote-and-update-your-details the most common countries that qualify for refugees here could be Cameroon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zimbabwe. But do check on the official list for other countries.

Lampedusa, the colliding point of the International Migration Crisis ?

A talk given at a Liberal International British Group meeting at Lib Dem Conference, by LD4SOS Council member, Suzanne Fletcher.

This isn’t a talk about the facts and figures, there are very many indeed. In the first half of this year 137,000 crossed the Mediterranean Sea, travelling in terrible conditions, in unsafe boats and dinghies. Many more have tried and failed. In 2013 a boat from Libya to Italy sank near to Lampedusa, and 368 refugees died. In short too many feel compelled to try, too many die in the process.

The majority of those taking the sea route to Europe are refugees in rapidly rising numbers. Most are fleeing from war, conflict, or persecution at home, as well as deteriorating conditions in many refugee hosting countries. The main countries of origin of those arriving in Italy, for instance, are Eritrea, 25%, followed by Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Gambia.

Where do they want to go? More than 90% want to move elsewhere in the EU, most are not heading for the UK, the most popular places being Germany and Sweden, where they hope for a warmer welcome.

As the arrivals increase, reception capacity and conditions in Europe remain seriously inadequate. There are little or no facilities for people with special needs, including separated and unaccompanied children, making them even more vulnerable to the risk of exploitation. The lack of dignified reception facilities not only creates precarious conditions, but fuels tensions with local communities and contributes to onward movements.

To answer the question of the fringe meeting – is Lamepedusa the colliding point on the International Migration Crisis? the answer is definitely not. We, in the UK, all hear about what happens in the Mediterranean in the news, but it is a relatively small part of the global picture. Whilst we obsess about how many are arriving in Europe, but a massive 86% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries.

A refugee crisis is nothing new, it goes as far back as written history, at least 3,500 years. The 1951 Refugee Convention set a global standard, and there is no reason at all why this should not be upheld today.

The lack of legal routes means that there is just no choice for many people and their families but to turn to smugglers. In doing so they are paying out huge amounts of money, but even worse are endangering their, and often their families’, lives.

At a fringe meeting, http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/623, held by Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary some years ago, the life jacket situation was described to us. “..holding up a fluorescent life jacket that she had picked up on a beach in Lesvos. It was made for a toddler.  She then told us it was actually a fake.  It would not have acted as a life jacket, but the parents who would have paid money for it did not know that.  It was worse when she showed us a tiny life jacket, for a baby.  Also fake.  What sort of pressure would a family be under to put their children through such a risky journey ?” The room went silent. We were shocked, and the image of that tiny, fake, life jacket remains with me.

The controversial – and should they not be controversial? – efforts to save lives have sparked opposition citing the “pull factors”. Quite simply, those taking the risk see no other choice, it is a “push factor” not a pull one, as Baroness Sally Hamwee often points out.

To go back to Lampedusa. Whilst so many died, the heroic efforts of the islanders meant that 155 lives of the boat that sank were saved. The Island’s carpenter was so moved by the situation of the survivors, and what they had fled from, he made each one of them a cross from the boat wreckage. Both as a reflection of their salvation from the sea and also as a powerful symbol of their hope for the future.

Another cross was made that is taken around the world as a witness to the uncertainties faced today by those fleeing over the sea. It is to remind us of the power of own acts of love, mercy and hope.

The Pope said “we ourselves need to see, and then enable others to see, that migrants and refugees are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved.”

UNHCR has a set of proposals, condensed as:

Saving lives at sea; Dignified reception conditions; Ensuring greater solidarity within Europe; increasing legal avenues to safety, and collective action in response to the global displacement crisis.

As Liberal Democrats we cannot disagree with this. The root causes of the displacement must be tackled; fences and border controls are not going to stop people moving in a time of crisis. We need there to be a radical reappraisal and bold thinking, along with other countries. A Brexit that could be the beginning of the break-up of the European Union is only going to make the situation worse. The crisis is huge but not impossible, to tackle.

Above all else, as Lord Roger Roberts has just said, we must give HOPE.