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Campaigning

We want to see increased resettlement for refugees in response to the global refugee crisis. We also campaign alongside other partner organisations for a fair and just asylum system where asylum seekers can no longer be detained without due process and get adequate support to avoid destitution.

Current issues we are concerned about:

Destitution

A quarter of the members who come to our drop in are destitute.  Bristol is a City of Sanctuary and because of this the Mayor signed a number of pledges at a conference last year.  These pledges need to be implemented to support people with no means of supporting themselves.  Measures in the Immigration Act will increase destitution, particularly among families, so our Council needs to be prepared for this.

Immigration Act 2016

Improvements:

Detention: review on detaining pregnant women; 4 month judicial oversight.

Resettlement of child refugees – a watered down version of Lord Dubs’ amendment means an unspecified number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children will be resettled.  This will be reliant on cash-strapped local authority willingness to volunteer to resettle them.

Harsher measures:

Most of the Act.  Support for asylum seekers particularly troubling as government removed right of appeal for those refused support – including families.

Syrian Resettlement

In September 2015, the Prime Minister pledged to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrians refugees in the UK from the Middle East.  As of June, only 1,600 have come to the UK under the scheme.  Unlike previous refugee resettlements which were centrally coordinated and pre-planned, Syrian resettlement is reliant on local authorities offering to take in refugees.   In Bristol, 3 families have been resettled, with plans for two more over the summer.

Brexit

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, there has been a steep rise in reported racist hate crime.  The Leave campaign has been widely criticised for overstating the negative impact of immigration and scapegoating migrants. Many EU and non-EU nationals, including our members, feel insecure. While the majority of Bristol residents voted to remain, we urge refugee and migrant supporters to be vigilant and immediately report hate crime to 0800 171 2272.

Campaigns we support (and you can too) – Autumn 2017:

Refugee Action have launched a new campaign “Dignity not destitution” which we have supported on social media.  You can find out more about the campaign and support it here 

A New Report from Refugee Action: ‘Slipping Through the Cracks’ highlights the delays faced accessing asylum support for people who have claimed asylum.   You can read the report here

City of Sanctuary has launched a campaign about the changes to healthcare – you can find out how to support the campaign here or more about the changes to healthcare here

Update on Detention campaign:
The latest detention statistics show there has been some reduction in the number of people entering detention, but the number of people in detention and the trend for long-term detention remain the same.  The Detention Forum said:

“Sadly, the latest statistics published by the Home Office show that changes the Government have made to detention policy have not had the required impact. Nearly 28,000 migrants are still entering detention every year and the number of people in detention in any given time has remained unchanged. As Stephen Shaw begins his follow-up review on immigration detention this month, the evidence is clear: the Government’s policies have failed to change the mentality of the Home Office which remains one of detain first, think later.

Indefinite detention has a severe, damaging impact on those who are subjected to it…..

It is time to implement radical and fundamental change, to create a fair and humane migration governance system. The implementation of the key recommendations made the cross-party inquiry would force the Home Office to rethink how they use immigration detention and will lead to a significant reduction in the scale and the length of detention.”

You can find out how to support the Detention Forum’s campaign to end indefinite detention here.

Freedom From Torture has launched a campaign action, asking MPs to call for a Home Affairs Committee inquiry into handling of torture evidence in asylum claims. Their Proving Torture Report had revealed the mistreatment of medical evidence by the Home Office as a critical issue for torture survivors which can and does result in asylum claims being incorrectly refused. Their research has revealed that Home Office caseworkers frequently mishandle and disregard expert medical evidence of torture. Amongst those torture survivors in the study whose outcomes were known, three quarters of cases initially refused were overturned on appeal. You can support their campaign here.
If you have an idea for a campaign or want to get involved please get in touch: info@bristolrefugeerights.org

Please note that we don’t have any staff resources dedicated to campaigns but we link with other organisations that do have these resources.