Standing with Refugees: JRS UK calls for action ahead of General Election

June 20, 2024

"Refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity" - Pope Francis

As Refugee Week unfolds and the General Election approaches, we shine the spotlight on the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) election asks aimed at strengthening refugee protection and support. These requests are crucial, urging political candidates to prioritise compassionate policies that safeguard the rights and dignity of people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

JRS UK’s three asks to candidates:

Repeal the anti-refugee laws

Candidates are urged to support the repeal of anti-refugee laws or policies such as the Illegal Migration Act and plans to forcibly transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda, which effectively bans refugees from claiming asylum. These laws lead to inhumane conditions and plans for forced transfers, contradicting Catholic teachings on welcoming refugees.

End immigration detention

Candidates are asked to support an end to immigration detention as it is hugely harmful to people’s physical and mental health, particularly for vulnerable individuals like torture survivors. Research by JRS UK has demonstrated that immigration detention does deep and lasting damage and that people’s rights are systematically abused in immigration detention. Pope Francis and other church leaders have warned that immigration detention violates human dignity.

Lift the ban on work for people seeking asylum

Candidates are encouraged to support the right to work for people seeking asylum. Currently, asylum seekers are prohibited from working, forcing them into poverty and causing them to lose valuable skills and purpose. Allowing asylum seekers to work will enable them to contribute to society, support themselves and their families, and maintain dignity. A 2022 YouGov Poll shows strong public support for this, with an 81% approval rate.

To support these demands, JRS UK encourages active engagement with candidates in local constituencies through direct communication, attending debates, or using social media platforms to amplify voices, with the aim of creating a more compassionate and fair system for refugees and asylum seekers.

Sarah Teather, JRS UK’s Director, emphasised the urgency:

“This is a vital moment to change the conversation around people seeking sanctuary in the UK.  Over a number of years, we’ve seen a shocking rise in hostility, scapegoating and cruel policies targeting refugees and asylum seekers. But so many of us want a different approach: one that welcomes women, men and children who come here in search of safety, treats them with dignity, and celebrates the gifts they bring. During the next few weeks, we have a crucial opportunity to let our politicians know that we stand with refugees.”

For more information and resources on supporting refugees during this critical election season, visit JRS UK’s election page.

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