Government plans to toughen up immigration laws opposed by Birmingham City Councillor

Refugees fleeing their own country for a better lifeRefugees fleeing their own country for a better life
Refugees fleeing their own country for a better life

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The Government is proposing to impose visa penalties on countries that refuse to take back their own citizens who have no right to be in the UK

The Birmingham City Councillor in charge of social inclusion has written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to oppose the Government’s New Plan for Immigration.

The government proposals include giving the Home Secretary new powers to impose visa penalties on countries that refuse to take back their own citizens who have no right to be in the UK.

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They say these measures will help prevent dangerous illegal journeys into the UK and break the business model of the criminal gangs exploiting people.

But Cllr John Cotton believes the new Plan for Immigration will have negative effects on an already failing asylum system.

Cllr Cotton, who is Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities,  has stressed that Birmingham is a historic place of sanctuary which welcomes people fleeing war and persecution to offer them safety and support to rebuild their lives.

He said they were “part of the city’s rich fabric”.

Home Secretary Priti PatelHome Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel

What does Cllr Cotton’s letter to the Home Secretary say?

Cllr Cotton’s letter to Priti Patel states:Our City of Sanctuary policy statement proudly welcomes refugees, those seeking asylum, and migrants, and aims to support them not just to survive, but to thrive in Birmingham and contribute to their new communities. 

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“Therefore, we strongly disagree with the Government’s New Plan for Immigration and the negative changes it proposes to an already failing asylum system.

“My colleagues and I have repeatedly communicated Birmingham’s deep dissatisfaction with the current asylum system, which is clearly unfit for purpose and fails to respect the needs of vulnerable asylum seekers or properly support the communities who seek to welcome them. 

“However, it is clear that the proposals set out in the New Plan for Immigration will not fix this broken system.  Instead, they will make matters much worse.

Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and EqualitiesCouncillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities
Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities | Birmingham city council

Do refugee campaigners agree with Cllr Cotton’s stance on the Government’s New Plan for Immigration?

David Forbes, founder of Lifeline Options, a Community Interest Company in Birmingham which offers immigration advice and helps asylum seekers agrees wtih Cllr Cotton.

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Lifeline options recently helped a Iraqi Kurd who finally received refugee status in Birmingham this year - 18 years after he arrived.

Mr Forbes said that if the government’s New Plan for Immigration had been in place then his 38 year-old client, known as Mr KK would have been presumed to be a criminal.

He said: “He would have had no route to permanent settlement and he would be at best a second class citizen, probably for life.

“I would add that KK is a most pleasant, polite and patient man, whom I respect greatly

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“This is why the Plan and the Bill must be opposed by all fair-minded people.”

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