The Immigration Bill returns to the House of Commons on Monday, April 25th. Some very important amendments will be coming from significant wins in the House of Lords, when it was debated there. ALL MPs need to be lobbied and told how important it is that these amendments are incorporated into what is a terrible Bill, to at least make a difference to many asylum seekers already in the UK, as well as the 3,000 unaccompanied children seeking refuge, already in Europe.
Please do take the time to write, meet, or otherwise lobby your own MP on these issues.
1. Right to Work. Asylum seekers should be given the right to work after they have been in the UK after 6 months. There is a briefing here/attached. Lord Roger Roberts has campaigned on this for 10 years now. His full speech is here, and the issue is in the Lib Dem manifesto for the 2015 elections. You are asking your MP to vote for the Lords Amendment 59. Please also tweet this widely, using the hashtags #immigrationbill and #letthemwork
2. The vote on ending indefinite detention for immigration purposes. The amendment about this was won by 17 votes. Much has been written and campaigned about this, and LD4SOS have campaigned for years. (This was a key manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election). You can read a further briefing from Detention Action here (pdf). Please ask your MP to support amendment 84.
3. The ending of detention for immigration purposes of pregnant women. Pregnant women should never be detained, and this is said in both the APPG report, chaired by Sarah Teather, and published last year, and the Government commissioned Shaw Report published earlier this year. There is more information in this report “Expecting Change”. Please ask your MP to vote to keep the absolute exclusion on the detention of pregnant women and vote for sub–‐clause (1) to Lords Amendment 85.
4. The UK Government to agree to take in 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from Europe. This was agreed by the House of Lords on April 12th by a majority of 102. Tim Farron has led this campaign, working with organisations such as Save the Children Fund who have expertise on this issue. Bradley Hillier-Smith has done a great video on this, do look at it and distribute it. You can read more in this article, and download the blueprint for action here (pdf). Please ask your MP to support amendment 87.
If you need any further information on any of the above, please do get in touch. City of Sanctuary have done a briefing, which includes a suggested letter, with suggestions and information here too.
It is so very important that as many people as possible let their MP know how strongly you feel on these issues. If you have any personal experience, know people who have (for instance women who have been detained whilst pregnant, asylum seekers with skills needed that cannot work) or are part of an organisation that works with any groups affected, then it will be very effective to talk about this.
So get writing, meeting, facebooking and tweeting !
* Suzanne Fletcher was a councillor for nearly 30 years. Now retired, she is active as a campaigner in the community both as a Lib Dem and with local organisations. She also does voluntary work with an advice agency. She is chair for Liberal Democrat Seekers of Sanctuary.