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JCORE's response to the 'New Plan for Immigration' consultation

In late March, the government announced its new proposals for reform to the UK’s asylum system. Despite promising fairness, the plans are extremely worrying and if implemented, would result in the creation of a cruel two-tier system, dividing refugees according to the routes they take to reach the UK when fleeing persecution and conflict.


The plans also form a shameful attack on the automatic right to claim asylum, and would limit family reunification rights, leaving vulnerable child refugees at further risk of being stranded and separated from their families. You can read our submission to the government's consultation on the proposals below.


Introduction, question three: The UK Government is committed to building an asylum system that is firm and fair, based on three major objectives:

  • To increase the fairness and efficacy of our system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum;

  • To deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger; and

  • To remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here.

Please use the space below to give further detail for your answer. In particular, if there are any other objectives that the Government should consider as part of their plans to reform the asylum and illegal migration systems.


Our response:

  • The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) is deeply concerned about these proposals. It is extremely disturbing that on the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, the government is putting forward plans which would seemingly violate international law, by deeming refugees who have arrived outside of an ‘official route’ as inadmissible to the UK’s asylum system.

  • Punishing refugees who are unable to use official routes will create a cruel two-tier system, dividing refugees between those who can use official resettlement schemes (which currently only account for around 20% of grants of protection provided by the UK), and those forced into other, dangerous routes to safety.

  • While the UK resettled the highest number of refugees through planned schemes than any other country in Europe, from 2015-19, it is important to clarify that only 0.5% of the world’s refugees were resettled in 2019, and that the UK receives far fewer asylum applications than other European countries like Germany, Greece, France and Italy.

  • It is extremely worrying that under these proposals, refugees who flee to safety in the UK without using official schemes would be provided with lesser rights and protections, and that the Home Office would seek to return such refugees to so-called ‘safe third countries’.

  • Under such plans, some Jewish refugees who fled to the UK from mainland Europe in the 1930s would likely not have received protections.

  • By proposing to grant asylum seekers who cannot be returned with ‘temporary protection status’, lasting no longer than 30 months, the government will guarantee insecurity and uncertainty, and it is appalling that such refugees will be granted with very limited family reunion rights.

  • If the government is serious about preventing families and young children from losing their lives on dangerous journeys, then full family reunion rights must be granted to all refugees.

  • Between 2015 and 2019, 29,000 refugees, 90% of whom were women and children, were able to come to the UK using family reunion rules. Under the new proposals, thousands of these people would not have been able to reach safety in this country and would be forced into taking dangerous journeys to be reunited with family members.

  • In a shameful betrayal of the humanitarian spirit of the Kindertransport, the plans will do little to address the current lack of safe and legal routes for present-day child refugees, following the closure of the Dubs Scheme, and the reductions to family reunion rights will also likely adversely affect unaccompanied child refugees.

  • We are also deeply worried that the new plans would see asylum seekers being accommodated in reception centres, rather than being housed in the community.

  • While much community housing is unfortunately now often in very poor standard, we remain concerned about the prospect of isolated reception centres, especially following appalling revelations about conditions in Penally and Napier Barracks. The imagery of such sites has recalled unpleasant memories of the internment of Jewish refugees in this country during the Second World War.

  • We are also extremely concerned that the option to develop offshore asylum processing centres in future has been left open.

If the government is serious about reforming our asylum system, it must instead:


Make it safer

Refugees shouldn’t need to risk their lives in order to be reunited with their families or seek protection in the UK. The government must extend safe and legal routes, including creating new routes for unaccompanied child refugees now that the Dubs scheme has closed and expanding family reunion rules.


Make it fairer

Refugees deserve quick and reliable decisions on their asylum applications, no matter how they reached the UK. The government must address delays in the asylum system to ensure that asylum seekers are not kept in limbo for years.


Make it more humane Refugees are just like us - they need housing, food and essentials to live, and the right to work to support themselves and retain their dignity. The government must ensure that all refugees and asylum seekers can live in suitable accommodation in the community, with full access to services, and should lift the ban on asylum seekers’ right to work.


Chapter two, question four: Please use the space below to give further feedback on the proposals in Chapter 2. In particular, the Government is keen to understand:


(a) If there are any ways in which these proposals could be improved to make sure the objective of providing well maintained and defined safe and legal routes for refugees in genuine need of protection is achieved; and

(b) Whether there are any potential challenges that you can foresee in the approach the Government is taking to help those in genuine need of protection.


Our response:

  • The plans rightly highlight the important of refugee family reunion. However, under the proposals to limit family reunion rights for refugees arriving in the UK outside of the ‘official route’, it is likely that many of the 29,000 people able to reunited with their families in the UK in the past five years would have been forced into undertaking dangerous routes, to re-join their family.

  • The proposals will not put people off taking irregular routes to the UK, but will force them into more dangerous journeys, and through plans to remove recourse to public funds for refugees provided with temporary protection status, heighten risk of exploitation and deprivation.

  • It is also important to note that while resettlement schemes are important, irregular routes make up the majority of arrivals of people seeking asylum in the UK, who lack viable alternatives.

Family Reunion, including for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, question seven: Are there any further observations or views you would like to share about safe and legal routes to the UK for family reunion or other purposes for protection claimants and/or refugees and/or their families that you have not expressed?


When you answer please indicate if your views relate to protection claimants and/or refugees and/or their families in the EU and/or the rest of the world.


Our response:

  • The government’s plans will do nothing for child asylum seekers in Europe. Without safe routes, vulnerable children are forced into incredibly dangerous journeys and are at risk of exploitation.

  • After the closure of the Dubs scheme, there are no safe routes for unaccompanied child refugees to reach the UK.

  • The government should introduce a new route for child asylum seekers in Europe. This should include children who do not have any family members living in this country.

  • Following Brexit, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in EU have lost family reunion rights with the vast majority now unable to reunite with family members in the UK. EU family reunion law means children can reunite with a far wider range of family members, including uncles, aunts, siblings, grandparents. Routes to the UK for child refugees should match those available to EU countries.

  • If the government is serious about tackling people traffickers, it must provide family reunion rights to all refugees who reach the UK, regardless of the route taken.

The government should also:

  • Allow adult refugees in the UK to sponsor their children and siblings aged under 25; and parents, to join them.

  • Allow unaccompanied child refugees in the UK to sponsor their parents, and any siblings aged under 25, to join them.

  • Reintroduce legal aid for all family reunion cases.

Chapter four, question seven: The UK Government intends to create a differentiated approach to asylum claims. For the first time how somebody arrives in the UK will matter for the purposes of their asylum claim.


As the Government seeks to implement this change, what, if any, practical considerations should be taken into account?


Our response:

  • The government should abandon the appalling proposal to create a two-tier asylum system.

  • It is shameful that on the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, the government is proposing to violate international law and deem refugees who have arrived outside of an ‘official route’ as inadmissible to the UK’s asylum system.

  • If such proposals had been in place in the 1930s, some Jewish refugees fleeing to the UK from mainland Europe in the 1930s would likely not have received protections.

  • Proposals to grant asylum seekers who cannot be returned with ‘temporary protection status’, lasting no longer than 30 months, will guarantee insecurity and uncertainty. It is disgraceful that such refugees will be granted with very limited family reunion rights.

  • If the government is serious about preventing families and young children from losing their lives on dangerous journeys, then full family reunion rights must be granted to all refugees.

Chapter four, question fourteen: Please use the space below to give further feedback on the proposals in Chapter 4. In particular, the Government is keen to understand:


(a) If there are any ways in which these proposals could be improved to make sure the objective of overhauling the domestic asylum framework is achieved; and

(b) Whether there are any potential challenges that you can foresee in the approach being taken around asylum reform.


Our response:

  • We are deeply concerned that the government is leaving open the inhumane and abhorrent option to send people seeking asylum in the UK to offshore locations. Such proposals bring back worrying memories of the overseas internment of Jewish refugees during the Second World War. The use of offshore asylum processing in Australia has resulted in horrendous violations of human rights.

  • We are also strongly opposed to plans to expand the asylum estate, through the creation of asylum reception centres. The recent use of barracks has provided a focal point for far-right activism and intimidation, and we are concerned that reception centres could see a continuation of such actions. The government must ensure that asylum seekers are able to live in dignity while their claims are assessed, and asylum seekers should be housed in the community, with full access to services.

  • Plans for a new ‘Temporary Protection Status’ are extremely concerning, and will guarantee insecurity and uncertainty for vulnerable refugees. It is appalling that such people will be granted with very limited family reunion rights, which would severely limit what is often the only safe way for refugee families to be brought back together. Such plans would force refugees into taking dangerous routes to be reunited with family members. By not providing recourse to public funds to such refugees, these people will be forced into destitution and likely struggle to access key necessities.

Chapter five, question six: The Government propose an amended ‘one-stop process’ for all protection claimants. This means supporting individuals to present all protection-related issues at the start of the process. The objective of this process is to avoid sequential and last-minute claims being made, resulting in quicker and more effective decision making for claimants.


Are there other measures not set out in the proposals for a ‘one-stop process’ that the Government could take to speed up the immigration and asylum appeals process, while upholding access to justice?


Our response:


There are numerous well-founded and clear reasons why individuals may not be able to present all relevant information to support their claim, at the earliest opportunity. These include:

  • Fear of those in authority, due to previous experiences.

  • Lack of access to relevant documents or records, or delays in accessing suitable legal advice.

  • Being unable to recall or recount relevant information, due to trauma.

  • Feelings of shame which may lead to reluctance to recount particular information.

For the above reasons, it should be recognised that a ‘one-stop process’ is completely unsuitable and inappropriate, and would likely result in people who have a well-founded fear of persecution being denied asylum, or the right to claim asylum, through no individual fault of their own.


Public Sector Equality Duty, question six: Please use the space below to share any other feedback on the New Plan for Immigration that you would like to submit as part of this consultation.


Our response:

  • These plans strongly negate the values of justice and fairness which are central to our community and Jewish identity.

  • Many within our community are the children or grandchildren of refugees who would have been denied entry to the UK under such proposals.

  • Alongside our deep concerns that these proposals threaten the right to asylum, they are also likely to be largely unworkable.

  • We agree that the UK’s asylum system needs reforming: however, there is nothing in these plans which will improve major challenges such as the record high backlog of people waiting for an initial decision on their asylum case.

  • The government must ensure that the UK is supporting its European neighbours and takes its fair share of refugees.

  • The UK should also introduce new resettlement schemes for child refugees; both for refugees with family members in the UK, but also unaccompanied child refugees without family here. It is appalling that following the closure of the Dubs scheme, there are now no safe or legal routes to the UK for unaccompanied minors in Europe who do not have family in this country.

  • Above all, the government must act to ensure that all asylum seekers are treated with compassion, humanity, dignity and respect.