After a series of votes in the House of Lords failed to result in further modern slavery protections and child detention limits, the Illegal Migration Bill will become law.
Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Paul McAleenan, says the Church will continue to ‘love the stranger’ and called for the expansion of safe routes for those fleeing their homes:
“This legislation stands at odds with the teaching of the Church on welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating refugees.
“Refugees are human beings made in the image and likeness of God, not a political problem to be solved. We must never make recognition of people’s dignity dependent upon where they come from or how they reach our country. The biblical call to love the stranger is unequivocal and indiscriminate.
“As a Church, we will continue to welcome those seeking sanctuary here and call for the expansion of safe routes. We urge our government to redouble its efforts to tackle factors such as conflict, persecution, and climate change that force people to flee their homes.”
Jesuit Refugee Service vowed to continue the fight against an unjust law that will leave many refugees in limbo at a time when they need support, deeming it not only illegal but wantonly cruel.
Sarah Teather, JRS UK’s Director, said:
“The Illegal Migration Bill drags any sense of the UK’s moral leadership on the world stage headlong into a gutter of hate. In it, we have abandoned the principle of refugee protection, and denied that we have a duty to anyone else in the world. We haven’t even done this to achieve any useful end, but revelled in sheer performative cruelty.
“I am particularly horrified that Parliament has decided to revert to wholesale incarceration of children in the immigration system, a practice I was instrumental in outlawing when in Government.
“At JRS UK, we shall continue to oppose this despicable piece of legislation and call on politicians from all parties to overturn it at the earliest opportunity.”
Many of the faithful kindly took time to write to their MP, expressing their concern and opposition to the Bill. Although the Migration Bill will now come into force, it is more important than ever to to advocate for migrants and refugees, and to stand in solidarity with them through prayer and peaceful action.
A related "Call to Action" document with suggestions of how the Catholic community might respond practically to the plight of refugees and migrants has come from the national Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), and can be found through this link
In March this year Bishop Terence Drainey, Chair of CSAN, reminded us that the Catholic community needed to speak out against this 'cruel and unworkable Bill which is an affront to human dignity and a breach of our responsibilities to the global common good and our obligations under international law.' Upon the passing of the Act, he said,
“we call upon the Catholic community to speak out against this cruel Bill and write to their MPs urging them to work to expand safe routes for those seeking asylum.”
Please send a letter or email to your MP (including your address to show that you are a constituent) and express your disappointment and your opposition to the policies of the Illegal Migration Act, which is at odds with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Please urge them to work for more humane and workable policy solutions that respect the dignity and rights of migrants.
- You can find out how to contact MPs here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP
- A checklist of key points to consider when writing can be found in the attached document
As a new CSAN member, Caritas Southwark encourages diocesan action and research in response to these calls. As the placard in Dover port reminds us, the people who take perilous journeys to arrive upon the shore of our diocese are made in God's image and likeness and share the same hopes and needs as the established residents.
Those wishing to intercede for this challenging situation can find support and inspiration in a collection of prayers compiled by "Seeking Sanctuary", at https://prayersformigrants.weebly.com/