As we all know, the general election looms on 6th May…not long to go now. We have heard the debates, we have read the news and seen the manifestos…but in amongst all this talk of “immigration” where is the differentiation between economic migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants? We keep hearing about the “uncontrolled immigration” that has been going on since Labour came into power, but what does that mean? Jobs going to migrants rather than to British people is an important aspect of their discussions but asylum seekers are not entitled to work, so how do they fit into this?
Labour deals with asylum and immigration in the ‘crime and immigration’ section of their manifesto. Their approach emphasises the record low number of asylum claims and low cost to the taxpayer of the asylum system. They claim faster decisions are often fairer decisions and they will continue to aim to process all applications within six months. They also promise to continue to tackle human trafficking.
The Conservatives 2010 manifesto does not mention any proposed changes to the asylum system but the party has recently condemned slow decision-making and increasing backlogs. In the past, the Centre for Social Justice (led by Iain Duncan Smith) suggested an asylum system in which applicants are given more leeway to establish a good case and which encourages voluntary returns. In 2005 their manifesto called for all asylum applications to take place outside the country and for the UK to withdraw from the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The Lib Dems would take the responsibility for the asylum system away from the Home Office and hand it over to an independent agency, while pushing for an EU wide plan to ensure that the responsibility is shared fairly between EU states. They would allow asylum seekers to work, end the detention of children and explore options such as residence restrictions and tagging for adults considered at risk of absconding.
The Greens would deal with applications within three months and allow asylum seekers to work during this time, ending detention for all but the most exceptional circumstances. They would also allow asylum seekers to be joined by their partner and partner’s family. Asylum seekers would receive full welfare benefits, boost reception facilities, housing, language training and legal support, oppose destitution and support the recognition of LGBT people as a social group as defined by the 1951 convention.
They promote tolerance, mutual understanding and difference; support the right of asylum seekers to work in the UK while they wait for decisions; oppose detention of recently arrived asylum-seekers, especially children; concerned by recent UK Borders Agency decisions that fail to reflect Welsh links with Argentina.
Scottish National Party
They seek to give Scottish Parliament control over immigration, give asylum-seekers in Scotland the opportunity to work while awaiting decisions on their right to remain, encourage skilled immigrants and Scottish ex-pats to settle in Scotland and are opposed to dawn raids on asylum seekers and the detention of their children.
They would withdraw from the 1951 Convention and replace it with a UK Asylum Act specifying the conditions which decide who should be granted asylum and with a limit on the number of refugees the country would accept. All asylum seekers will be held in secure and ‘humane’ centres until a decision is made. There would be no right of appeal. The party would also end what it calls the ‘doctrine of multiculturalism’ by government and public bodies.
The BNP would immediately deport two million people it claims are here illegally and deport anyone who has committed a crime whose nationality is not British. It would review all recent grants of residence or citizenship and offer financial incentives for those of foreign descent to leave the country. It would automatically reject all asylum seekers who passed through safe countries on their way to Britain.
Wow. Some differing opinions there but I wanted to give you the broad spectrum of all the parties to enable you to bear them all in mind.
This summary was compiled from the BBC website and by Refugee Action through their Action Matters! e-newletter. It is well worth signing up for if you are interested in the rights of people seeking asylum in the UK.
Thanks for reading, now please vote on 6th May!!