Write to your MP to tell them that Greater Manchester welcomes refugees and stands against the cruel new Refugee Ban Bill.  

The government is currently in the process of destroying the asylum system as we know it, with their “Illegal Migration Bill” (dubbed the Refugee Ban Bill). Pushing it through Parliament as quickly as possible, Home Secretary Suella Braverman is dialling down the potential for much-needed scrutiny while dialling up inflammatory and hateful rhetoric.  

Is this Bill really who we are? It’s been welcome to see some powerful displays of solidarity, compassion and protest in response to this latest threat to the right to seek safety. We may not all have Gary Lineker’s platform but we all have the power to speak out and say: not in our name. we’re asking people in Greater Manchester to write to their MPs to draw attention to what this Bill will do to our local communities. 

Others have explained that the Bill is unworkable, may be in breach of international law, and will fail to achieve its stated aim of preventing deaths in the Channel. They’ve pointed out that providing safe routes is the only way to avoid people taking dangerous journeys, and that the government refuses to do so. And that the way to move people out of inappropriate quasi-detention hotel accommodation is to make decisions on their asylum claims, something else the government will now refuse to do altogether for people arriving in the UK.  

But what will it mean here, for people in Greater Manchester? If the Refugee Ban Bill passes, it will begin immediately to create a growing class of people with effectively no rights. Our communities will be less safe for all of us. The Home Office will refuse to consider asylum claims made by people who arrive in the UK via “irregular” routes (in other words, the only routes available). Denied a way to regularise their status and begin to contribute to our communities, those people will have no choice but to live in the shadows. They will be denied the right to work, to rent, to access benefits, healthcare, education or even open a bank account. They will be pushed into exploitative, unregulated work as the only way to survive. In our city this will mean more people in dangerous working conditions, suffering from homelessness and destitution, frightened to ask for help from the services and authorities who have pledged to care for the most vulnerable. 

The Bill also creates provision for the government to vastly expand its detention facilities. Those who do not go underground will be subject to detention and attempts to remove them from the UK. Even their children – born in the UK – will be denied ever becoming British citizens. Without returns agreements in place, it currently looks like this will mean long periods of imprisonment for people – simply as a consequence of arriving on our shores. This may include families with children and unaccompanied children as soon as they turn 18, reversing decades of work and progress preventing children being subjected to such cruelty. For us here in our city, this will mean raids, people ripped from their homes, families and the communities they have been able to build. It may mean new detention facilities in Greater Manchester with thousands of people imprisoned inside them indefinitely.  

Homelessness, destitution, exploitation, unsafe unregulated working, modern slavery, violent raids, largescale detention. This is not who we are as a city-region. Our local politicians have made commitments that these new laws cut directly across: they’ve stood against destitution for people seeking safety and those with No Recourse to Public Funds, against the Hostile Environment, and pledged to end homelessness. And people in our communities have shown time and time again in outpourings of support for people seeking safety that we are a compassionate and welcoming place. We have always been diverse, and we have always stood up to unjust power and stood with people who need our solidarity. With an increasing and organised threat from the far right, voices of hate are shouting disproportionately loudly. MPs tell us that what they read in their email inboxes matters; they take into account what their constituents care about. We must make our voices heard and stand up for people whose rights are under attack. 

Please write to your MP to tell them to vote against the Illegal Migration Bill and to stand up as representatives of Greater Manchester to declare that we welcome people seeking asylum and that they will be safe in our city.  

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