‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.’
We want to see a society that welcomes the stranger. Migration, whether voluntary or forced, appears in political discussions time and again. As Churches we approach the question of migration first and foremost with the understanding that we are all children of God. We highlight the ongoing plight of refugees and displaced people affirming a human response to the crisis. We emphasise the importance of treating people with decency whatever our immigration policy. This is why as Churches we are calling for an end to the government’s hostile environment policies, for a humane approach to those seeking sanctuary, and for asylum seekers to have the right to work.
The Illegal Migration Act
In July 2023, the UK Government passed the Illegal Migration Act.The Act is designed to fundamentally change the status of asylum seekers in the UK, making it illegal to enter the UK and claim asylum without permission. The legislation states that anyone who enters the country without permission, whether by crossing the channel or by another means, will be detained, removed to another country, and unable to apply for asylum in the UK at any point in the future.
We’ve produced a summary of what the Illegal Migration Act means for the UK asylum system.
Briefing on the UK Asylum System
With issues facing asylum seekers and refugees arising in the media so frequently, it can be hard to see beyond the headlines and build a bigger picture understanding of the questions and challenges around asylum and refugee policy.
We’ve produced a briefing looking at:
- Some of the key issues currently facing asylum and refugee policy
- Key thoughts underpinning a Christian response
- Proposals for an improved system
Fill the Skies with Hope
Together with Refugees are calling for groups around the country to Fill The Skies With Hope. Stand in solidarity with refugees by calling on the government to change course on their policy to send refugees to Rwanda.
How can you get involved?
Make and send orange heart shaped paper planes to the Prime Minister. This is a simple and powerful message, to say that we want to see a more compassionate and fair asylum system.
Together With Refugees have everything you need to get started, including:
- An origami template to make your paper plane
- Tips for holding a paper plane launch event, to raise the profile of your messages to the PM
Lift the Ban on our High Streets!
We’ve been part of the campaign to lift the ban on asylum seekers working since 2018. Now, we’re calling on you to get your high street involved!
Right now, people seeking in the UK are banned from working and forced to live in poverty. This ban is harmful to everyone. It has the biggest impact of people seeking asylum, but also the UK economy misses out on tax revenue and much needed skills by freezing people out of work.
We know that there are lots of businesses in our towns and on our high streets who want to welcome people seeking asylum into work. Could you ask your local businesses to become allies to the campaign?
Lift The Ban have put together everything you need to know, including a handbook, flyers and posters, and a template letter to businesses.
The Nationality and Borders Act 2022
In April 2022, The Nationality and Borders Act passed into law. Our Churches campaigned against this bill during its time in parliament, and together we have signed the Anti-Refugee Laws pledge. Together with hundreds of other organisations and charities, we pledge to:
- Defend the right to seek safety from war and persecution in the UK
- Speak out against attempts to criminalise and punish those who make their own way to safety
- Challenge the anti-refugee laws which will risk the lives and well-being of people
- Work towards a refugee protection system that treats all people with dignity and compassion
How can I help refugees coming from Ukraine?
The war in Ukraine has led to millions of people being displaced from their homes. Many of them have been displaced to countries bordering Ukraine, and some have travelled to the UK to seek sanctuary. Our denominations are coordinating responses from communities in the UK, which you can get involved in.
Methodists for Ukraine is a scheme supporting Methodist communities in the UK to match with and host Ukrainian refugees. Click here to find out more.
Baptists Together also have a scheme matching Baptist churches with Ukrainian refugees hoping to come to the UK. Click here to find out more.
The Right to Work – Asylum seekers in the UK are effectively banned from working. Click here to find out more about the campaign to Lift The Ban.
End Hostility – The ‘hostile environment’ is a web of government policies designed to make life so difficult for people who cannot prove they have the right to live in the UK that they will choose to leave. We are calling for an end to the hostile environment. Click here to find out more about the campaign to End Hostility.
Deportation agreement with Rwanda policy
In April 2022 the UK Government announced a new deal to send people to Rwanda who cross the channel in order to claim asylum in the UK. Our churches have been vocal in their opposition to this policy.
A welcoming environment – In this context of migration and hostility, churches can play a positive and practical role in creating an environment of welcome and hospitality. Many already do. Click here to read our blog series on a welcoming environment.
Some useful resources for local congregations:
City of Sanctuary – faith groups resources
CTBI Focus on Refugees – practical action