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These are the notes that we took in the public forum, if you have any questions please email us on [email protected] We also held a meeting with representatives from Bristol’s refugee sector, discussing the impact of the bill on people seeking sanctuary. If you would like to find out more you can read Thangam Debbonaire MP’s blog post

On July 9th, Bristol City of Sanctuary hosted a public forum to discuss the Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through parliament. We were joined by:
– Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
– Forward Maisokwadzo, Inclusion Adviser for the Mayor of Bristol
– Beth Wilson, Director of Bristol Refugee Rights

Several key points were discussed during the public forum which have been summarised below:

– The Bill proposes that people be treated differently depending on how they arrive in the UK. It suggests that people who are forced to come through “irregular” routes would have less entitlement to financial support and family reunion rights. The Bill also proposes to criminalise these people.Offshore processing is a concern as it puts people at much more risk of abuse, exploitation and poor mental health.

– Thangam argued that safe and legal routes were the most effective alternative to what the government is proposing.

– The Bill will leave victims of modern slavery at more risk and with less support.

– It is important to acknowledge who in our community would not be here under the new rules, and how diversity and migration is a part of our community, for example with the England Football Team.
The Panelists argued that we need to reclaim our British Values, as the Bill is supposedly patriotic but it does not align with what many of the British public think about migration.

Q&A Section:
– As has been said, our local MPs and civic leadership are supportive of refugees. However there is a government majority of around 80. Should we be organising a campaign for Bristol people to spread the word to our friends, colleagues and relatives who live in Conservative constituencies and ask them to lobby their MPs to vote against this bill or amend it? = They are in government, they have a huge majority and so we do need to talk to them. We need to treat them respectfully and not go in on the offensive, it is not effective. Treat every MP as a potential ally, they need to know what we think because they then can’t say that no one in the constituencies care.
Look up this link: https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk to join a coalition against the bill.

– What is happening with the consultation? = There is an organisation that is trying to legally challenge this but there is not much to report at the moment.

– Should the focus not be on preventing the conditions that force people to flee their homes and countries and protecting those who do flee, as opposed to this new plan? = Yes, everyone’s situation is different and we need more focus on supporting people.

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