Patel’s asylum plans lack sense and compassion – two letters to the Guardian

Priti Patel. Image: Sky News

Patel’s asylum plans lack sense and compassion

Instead of pursuing cruel and unethical means of controlling immigration, the Home Office must focus on providing safe and legal routes to the UK, write Jewish campaigners for racial equality, while Richard Hargreaves describes Priti Patel’s proposals as indefensible

13th October

Recently Jewish people marked the start of Sukkot, a Jewish festival rooted in concepts of sanctuary and shelter. We have been disturbed at this time to read reports of deeply unethical Home Office plans for offshore asylum processing, and other measures that would cruelly create barriers to those seeking refuge in this country (Home Office may use nets to stop migrant boats crossing Channel, 11 October).

Priti Patel was correct to acknowledge in her conference speech that the UK’s asylum system is broken, and that current delays to asylum applications are unacceptable. The present reality reveals the vital need for fairness and compassion. Asylum seekers fleeing to the UK from conflict and war have found themselves housed in army barracks on arrival.

Even more shocking is the Home Office’s resumption of evictions for people with negative asylum decisions, which recklessly pushes vulnerable people into homelessness and destitution during a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

If the government is serious about reform, it should take its moral responsibility by providing safe and legal routes to the UK, reopening refugee resettlement schemes, and supporting Alf Dubs’ family reunification amendment to the immigration bill.

It must also avoid its recent hardline rhetoric, which has attacked both vulnerable asylum seekers, and those defending their legal rights (Home secretary’s ‘dangerous’ rhetoric ‘putting lawyers at risk’, 6 October). During a time of national crisis and increasing tensions, avoiding such divisive politics is crucial.

Dr Edie Friedman Executive director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Jack Kushner The Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild London, Rabbi Alexandra Wright London, Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky Manchester, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg London

After 20 years as a volunteer teacher of English to asylum seekers and refugees in Bradford, and a campaigner against the Home Office’s increasingly hostile environment, I suppose I qualify as one of Priti Patel’s “defenders of the indefensible”. I maintain that I am defending the defenceless. It is Patel herself who is defending the indefensible.
Richard Hargreaves
Skipton, North Yorkshire

Comments (1)

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    This horrible specimen of Toryism hasn’t got an ounce of sense or compassion in her body. As disgusting characters go in UK politics she is rivalled on by the oaf that is her boss.

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