For the past few years, our government here in the UK has explicitly aimed to create a hostile environment for those without leave to remain or permanent residency. This has included making it difficult to access healthcare or accommodation, passport checks in hospitals, criminalising people who may find themselves without status, and even billboard vans telling people to “go home". These policies affect a huge number of people, including refugees and people seeking asylum, as well as long-term residents of the UK. These are our friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and they need support now more than ever.
Our guiding principles of justice and equality mean that we campaign for a fairer world for all. In a time of global crisis, certain groups of people, including refugees and people seeking asylum, are especially at risk. These people are our neighbours, friends, and family. And when someone in our community needs us, we all pitch in.
It’s more important than ever that we stand in solidarity with people disproportionately affected by crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Are We Asking For?
Alongside many other organisations and individuals, we’ve added our voice to this open letter to the Home Secretary calling for an immediate suspension of the hostile environment. This would ensure the following:
- Access to healthcare, including immediately suspending all NHS data sharing with immigration enforcement and launching a public information campaign that makes clear that healthcare services are available and safe for all migrants to use.
- Access to vital public services by suspending 'No Recourse To Public Funds' conditions.
- Assurance that no one will be penalised for missing appointments, reporting, or court dates due to illness.
- Extending or modifying visas so that no one is pushed into a precarious immigration status because of being self-isolated or unable to return to a country that is not safe.
- The release of everyone detained under immigration powers to reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering the detention estate and causing avoidable harm.
- Specialist support for those housed in shared Asylum Accommodation in order to enable safe access to medical services, testing, and where necessary, re-housing for particularly vulnerable people.
We’re all vulnerable right now, and some people even more so. We need to look after ourselves and each other. Find out more and add your name to the letter written by JCWI, Liberty and Medact NOW.
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