There are no safe or legal routes for asylum seekers to get into the UK. The government knows this, and they will punish you for doing so regardless. Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s new Illegal Migration Bill, announced on 7 March, will further criminalise asylum seekers that arrive in the UK via ‘irregular means’, such as small boats crossing the channel. It will disqualify these people from accessing the UK’s asylum system – which already is not fit for purpose – and could lead to them being held indefinitely in detention centres, or be deported to Rwanda.
Additionally, these latest plans will essentially legalise slavery. Yesterday, Rishi Sunak and Braverman announced that under this proposed bill, if you arrive in the UK ‘illegally’ then you will be “denied access to the UK’s modern slavery system”. So, for example if you are a victim of human trafficking, you will get no help or intervention from the UK government, because you came here ‘illegally’. If your trafficker is successful in trafficking you to the UK, in the eyes of this government, it’s your fault for getting trafficked.
Sunak and Braverman’s ‘Stop the Boats’ fantasy has found new lows, with it even becoming a campaign slogan, and plastered across a shiny new lectern; further proving that this iteration of the British government is like a snake that keeps shedding to reveal a new, more insidious layer. Every time we think they are doing something terrible, they find a way to make it even worse.
“Every time we think they are doing something terrible, they find a way to make it even worse”
To think that this is some kind of ‘dead cat’ distraction strategy is also harmful. This government knows exactly what it’s doing, and they don’t care what it looks like. Of course, issues of food shortages, strikes, and Matt Hancock generally being a terrible person are all worthy of the valid outrage and this government should certainly be held accountable. But the issue on the table should also be taken seriously, and not belittled into some kind of PR tactic. That narrative gives this government far too much credit; these plans are intrinsic to their politics.
In recent prime minister’s questions, Sunak implied that this new legislation is “acting with compassion” and that this is in order to “help the most vulnerable”. If this is true, then why are there no clear safe or legal routes? Sunak and Braverman frame these policies as ‘helping asylum seekers’ because the small boats are too dangerous. But how is criminalising someone, or holding them in a detention centre indefinitely, helping them?
In 2022, over 45,000 people came to England via small boats crossing the channel. Less than 1% of people arriving on small boats have had their claims processed. When asylum seekers do arrive in the UK, they are placed in temporary accommodation, where the public temperature is just as unaccommodating as the government’s, seen with the recent violent riots in Knowsley.
Not to mention, this government has absolutely no mandate for their plans. Lest we forget that Rishi Sunak was actually only voted for by 202 people: the Tory MPs that backed him. Not even the Conservative party members got a say back in October 2022 when he got the top job.
The Conservative party’s 2019 manifesto, on which Boris Johnson was elected, had only one major policy on immigration – to introduce an ‘Australian-style points system’. But Sunak and Braverman seem to get off creating these parasitic and dangerous policies they have absolutely no mandate for. Braverman seems to be in some type of one-sided competition with Priti Patel about who can be the absolute worst. Meanwhile Sunak is co-signing literally everything and anything.
“Let it be known, this Illegal Migration Bill will end lives”
This government is beyond despicable. Let it be known, this Illegal Migration Bill will end lives. We are already acutely aware of the hostile environment this government is fostering, it is not a stretch to assume things are about to somehow get worse. At present, the Bill is still in its early form and has not yet been passed. It still has to go through 10 more stages of debates and votes to be passed into law.
Perhaps it could be another Public Order Bill situation, where literally the most undemocratic arm of government – the House of Lords – managed to defeat a heinous piece of legislation. It’s a truly bewildering sign that our last form of defence is the unelected House of Lords.
This is not just a Tory Britain, it’s a fascist Britain. Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman are playing out their sick and twisted fantasies and it’s a vicious nightmare that keeps getting worse.
How do we stop this?
These abhorrent immigration plans extend far beyond an issue of borders. It sows division and further emboldens an already-momentous fascist movement in this country. By proposing these new policies, the government is co-signing the messages of the far-right. This will inevitably seep into everyday life, with more visible hostility, xenophobia and racial violence hurled at racialised people. Stand Up To Racism and the Trade Union Congress have organised ‘#ResistRacism’ protests across the country for 18 March. Keep an eye on this page for more details.
We need to band together to fight against what we see, whether that means intervening in a police stop, or showing up when there’s a suspected immigration raid. We should be lobbying our MPs to get them to vote against these terrible bills. There are many organisations and charities working with and for asylum seekers, and we should support them.
Organisations to support and donate to include:
- SOAS Detainee Support: You can donate or join their cause here.
- Care 4 Calais: You can donate and volunteer with them here.
- Migrants Organise: Get involved by volunteering or donating here.
- Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants: Learn more about their campaigns and donate here.
- Right to Remain: Stay updated through their newsletter here, and donate to their cause here.
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