GOVERNMENT RESPONSE ON REFUGEE ISSUES CONCERNING
29 May 2017
It’s been over a year since the Dubs amendment to resettle unaccompanied asylum seeking children was passed. The Government has since abandoned the scheme and child refugees throughout Europe remain at risk. Elmbridge CAN wrote to local MPs to raise questions about the Government’s action on refugees.
We wrote to Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, with the questions you submitted about the Government’s action on refugees.
One of our volunteers also wrote independently to Phillip Hammond, MP for Weybridge and Runnymede with the same questions.
Dominic Raab contacted to the Minister for Immigration, Robert Goodwill MP, to raise the questions you asked about the welfare of unaccompanied minors who have family in the UK but have not been reunited.
Robert’s response outlined the content of the Dublin III regulation, which stipulates that unaccompanied minors have a right to be reunited with close family in the UK. He did not, however, address the situation of the unaccompanied minors in Europe who meet this criteria but have had their applications rejected by the Government.
We also asked Dominic what he would consider to be a long-term solution for unaccompanied minors in Europe and whether he could clarify the evidence the Government is using to determine that the Dubs scheme acts as a pull factor.
Dominic responded that he believes it’s vital to avoid creating a pull factor for refugees and pointed us to two statements (1,2) made in Parliament by Robert Goodwill MP.
We don’t think these statements answer the questions posed.
WHAT DID THE HOME SECRETARY SAY?
One Elmbridge CAN volunteer wrote independently to Phillip Hammond, MP for Weybridge and Runnymede, to raise the same questions. He passed our letter to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who replied with a comprehensive letter outlining Government policy on refugees.
On why the Government believes the Dubs scheme acts a pull factor, the Home Secretary stated, “there must be a reason why two thirds of asylum seekers in the EU last year chose to go to Germany and Sweden.”
We’re disappointed to see the Government take such a simplistic approach to what the Home Secretary acknowledged is an “extremely complex question.”
The issue of asylum applications made to Germany and Sweden is very different to the question of vulnerable unaccompanied minors being relocated to the UK through official schemes, like Dubs. In fact, the very purpose of such schemes is to avoid the need for unregulated arrivals, like those seen in Germany and Sweden.
The response ignores the fact that the Dubs scheme only applied to children already in Europe at the time the scheme was passed, not those who arrived later, therefore avoiding the creation of an incentive for children to travel to Europe. It also says nothing about the evidence that the closure of the Dubs scheme is creating a ‘terrifying new market’ for human traffickers.
The Home Secretary added, “the UK experience over the last 20 years suggests that policy changes such as juxtaposed immigration controls, limiting the right to work for asylum seekers… and taking a robust approach to failed asylum seekers has reduced the pull factor.”
Elmbridge CAN co-chair, Vicki Felgate, said:
"This policy is extremely concerning, given the widely reported destitution and poverty of asylum seekers in the UK. If replicated by other countries, it creates a race to the bottom, where each country competes to have the weakest possible policies to protect asylum seekers."
It’s difficult to see how such a policy fits with the Government’s insistence that the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers is a top priority.
VOTE FOR REFUGEES IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION
You can help give refugees a voice in the upcoming general election by asking your candidates where they stand on refugee issues. Safe Passage has put together a campaign toolkit that includes a list of questions that you put to your candidate MPs.
Elmbridge CAN will be at the local hustings asking questions… why not join us and make our voice even louder?
Elmbridge CAN will maintain a dialogue with local MPs on these issues following the general election.