The below letter has been adapted from Together With Refugees. Please copy and paste it, and adapt to make it more personal. If you aren’t sure who your MP is, you can click here for a helpful guide made by one of our volunteers
Dear [name of MP],
Re: The Nationality and Borders Bill
I am writing to you as a member of your constituency to express my concern about the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill. I support Bristol City of Sanctuary, who hold the vision of building a movement of welcome for those seeking sanctuary here. They have growing support from over 65 organisations and over 410 individuals for their statement against the proposals laid out in the Nationality and Borders Bill. They are also part of Together With Refugees, a coalition of over 300 local and national organisations of all kinds who have joined together to campaign for a better approach by the UK to supporting refugees that is more effective, fair and humane.
I believe this Bill will have grave consequences for people fleeing war and persecution, creating a two-tier system where people are judged not on their need for protection, but on the journeys they had to make to get here. This will mean that people that the UK currently recognises as refugees will be turned away in future. It will separate families and lead to people being forced to take more dangerous journeys. It will create ever longer backlogs and delays in the asylum process. It could lead to people being sent to unsafe, costly holding centres in countries with which they have no connection and without their claim for asylum being given a fair hearing in the UK first. It could criminalise those helping people seeking asylum reach the UK – not just people smugglers, but refugees themselves or others providing help, such as by rescuing refugees at risk of drowning. It will lead to greater poverty and homelessness for people seeking asylum. The Bill is based on agreements with other countries that do not exist and are unlikely to be secured, and flies in the face of international law and our responsibilities as a global nation.
Much of the focus this past month has been on the crisis in Afghanistan. It is important to note that any people fleeing Afghanistan, outside of the resettlement routes put forward by the government, will be subjected to the proposals in the Nationality and Borders Bill.The only difference between them and the people evacuated through the resettlement routes, is the way they arrived.
Instead of these inhumane proposals we want to see safe passage guaranteed for people seeking sanctuary without the risk of being trafficked, people seeking sanctuary being treated with humanity, without discrimination, as well as safe routes for unaccompanied children and guaranteed rights for people seeking sanctuary to family reunion.
Without these guarantees we will continue to see people legitimately seeking safety and security forced to travel to the UK through dangerous routes. We will continue to see the arbitrary division of refugees into legal and illegal groups when, under the UDHR, they are legal by definition. We will continue to see people forced into poverty and destitution by policies that ignore our shared humanity. Furthermore, people seeking sanctuary will continue to be denied the human rights to family reunion and family life.
The Nationality and Borders Bill takes no account of the value that people seeking sanctuary in this country have contributed to our national economy and culture. In addition the Bill takes no account of its mental health impact on already settled communities in the UK.
I am therefore requesting three things of you as my parliamentary representative.
First, please let us know your own views on the Bill and the issues we raise above – and reflect our deep concerns about the Bill by speaking out locally, in Parliament, within your party and on social media.
Second, let us know whether you will back our call for a more compassionate and effective approach that: defends people’s right to seek safety in the UK no matter how they came here; ensures they can live in dignity while they wait for a decision on their asylum application; empowers refugees to rebuild their lives and make a valuable contribution to our community; commits to a clear target for the UK to resettle at least 10,000 refugees a year through internationally-agreed programmes and expands safe routes for people to seek asylum in the UK; and, sees the UK working with other countries to do our bit to help people who are forced to flee their homes.
Third, write to the Home Secretary to convey our concerns, ask for her response, and let us know what she says.
Many thanks for your time in considering our concerns.
I look forward to hearing from you.
[Your address and contact details]