Three steps to haven

During our Right To Refuge campaign, Community Care has
fought hard to achieve a fairer deal for asylum seekers. We have
had to fight, along with our friends in the voluntary sector and in
parliament, on several fronts. We have taken the battle to the
government, to policy makers, to the media and to the public. Our
campaign has stood up for values that are fundamental to social
care: justice, tolerance and protection of the vulnerable. These
three principles we will continue to fight for.

Asylum seekers still have much to complain about, but small beacons
of hope are becoming visible. Our campaign has called for improved
immigration processes, an end to degrading detention, better
protection of children, and a more informed debate without the
racism and bigotry that have characterised so many of the
contributions from politicians, press and public. Some progress was
made towards these objectives this week.

While the welcome decision to give 15,000 families caught up in the
asylum system leave to remain was taken purely for pragmatic
reasons, three important decisions of principle received less
attention. First, Home Office minister Beverley Hughes promised
measures that will at least partially allay fears about the
well-being of asylum seekers’ children kept in detention. Details
are still scarce, although it is likely that she will seek to plug
gaps in the woeful schooling offered to detained children and
examine whether they can be allowed to go on organised outings. The
measures fall short of the moral imperative to end the detention of
these children once and for all but they move in the right

Second, the High Court moved to soften the impact of the infamous
section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 by
insisting that anyone awaiting the outcome of a court case receive
support and accommodation. Since there are around 800 cases
pending, the High Court has struck a blow for justice at a time
when the government has tried to make that goal more difficult to
achieve by slimming down appeals procedures.

Finally, and in one sense closer to home, Community Care
has campaigned hard for an end to media hysteria about asylum
seekers, particularly the insistence that they take away from our
society and add nothing. The Press Complaints Commission’s ruling
that the press should stop its illogical talk of “illegal asylum
seekers” goes a small distance towards this aim.

No historic victory yet then, but three important steps along the

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.