Asylum bill is Labour’s disgrace

Yvonne Roberts says the Nationality,
Immigration and Asylum Bill is a racist and unworkable piece of

My child, aged seven, goes to an inner London
primary school in which over half the children come from ethnic
minorities, many of them refugees and asylum seekers. In spite of
high levels of deprivation, and the difficulties that sometimes
come from painfully disrupted lives, the school received a glowing
Ofsted report and is a wonderfully thriving community.

One of
my daughter’s friends has been moved with her mother three times in
nine months, twice from hostels. She now makes a 40-minute journey,
which includes two bus rides and a long walk, from her new home,
consuming 10 per cent of their income on benefits, so that, in a
short life of constant upheaval, at least her schooling provides

and daughter, who has juvenile arthritis, come from a country that,
until recently, was at war. Three years ago, while the mother was
away, her husband was killed and her two older children
disappeared. Two weeks ago, the son and daughter were traced by the
International Red Cross. Both were well, but living

week, the asylum bill is going through parliament. It is a
disgraceful piece of propaganda, ill-thought-through, dishonest and
unprincipled. Undoubtedly, we have three groups of asylum seekers –
political, economic and a small minority who are here to exploit
the welfare state. For liberals to pretend otherwise is to further
feed the flames of prejudice. But the bill is unlikely to reduce
the two-year delay many asylum seekers face before hearing whether
their application has been successful, while many of its measures,
including deporting asylum seekers before their appeal is heard,
are nothing more than an abrogation of justice.

Blunkett, the home secretary, originally intended that children of
asylum seekers in accommodation centres would be educated
separately from mainstream schools, which he alleged they were
“swamping”. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the efforts of
rebel MPs will have been successful, and the proposal will have
been dropped completely – but the bill needs many more amendments
if it is not to become a shameful and unworkable law.

mother and child, whom I know, have talent, ability, drive and
optimism, in spite of the horrors they have experienced. Yet, what
the mother meets too often is not friendliness, nor is she even
given the benefit of the doubt. Instead, she is treated with
hostility and disrespect.

potentially devastating corrosion of the connections between
ordinary human beings is what happens when Labour politicians
choose to speak the language of the racist right.

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