We’re shocked by your treatment of asylum seekers, rabbis tell Priti Patel
25 rabbis from across the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements have written to the Home Secretary to protest at her asylum policies and urge her to meet her moral responsibilities.
In the letter, initiated by JCORE (Jewish Council for Racial Equality), the rabbis welcome Priti Patel’s comments that the asylum system needs urgent reform; but express their concern at the reports of “deeply unethical” proposals for offshore asylum processing.
They also say that they are “appalled” that refugees from conflict and war are being housed in army barracks on arrival in the UK, and shocked by the Home Office’s resumption of evictions for people with negative asylum decisions—a move which, they say “recklessly pushes vulnerable people into homelessness and destitution during a pandemic which has disproportionately impact black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.”
The rabbis urge the Home Secretary to provide safe and legal routes to the UK, reopen resettlement schemes which have been closed since March, and support Lord Dubs’ family reunification amendment to the Immigration Bill. And they implore her to avoid divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, both against asylum seekers and against those defending their legal rights in international law.
The full text of the letter has been published in the Guardian newspaper today here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/12/patels-asylum-plans-lack-sense-and-compassion.
Open letter to Priti Patel - Secretary of State for Secretary of State for the Home Department
Dear Home Secretary,
We are writing to you as rabbis and members of the Jewish community to express our deep concerns about the UK’s asylum system.
Last Friday marked the end of Sukkot, a Jewish festival which has its roots in concepts of sanctuary and shelter. During this period, we were disturbed to read reports of deeply unethical Home Office plans for offshore asylum processing, and other measures that would cruelly create barriers to those seeking refuge in this country.
We welcome your acknowledgement in your party conference speech that the UK’s asylum system is broken, and that current delays to asylum applications are unacceptable. The present reality reveals the vital need for the fairness and compassion promised in your address. It is appalling that asylum seekers fleeing to the UK from conflict and war have found themselves housed in army barracks on arrival. As rabbis, we have also been shocked by the Home Office’s resumption of evictions for people with negative asylum decisions, a move which recklessly pushes vulnerable people into homelessness and destitution during a pandemic which has disproportionately impacted black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.
If your government is serious about reform, we urge you to step up and take your moral responsibility by providing safe and legal routes to the UK, reopening refugee resettlement schemes, which have been closed since March and supporting Lord Dubs’ refugee family reunification amendment to the Immigration Bill. We also implore the government to avoid the recent hard-line rhetoric which has attacked both vulnerable asylum seekers, and those defending their legal rights to protection under international law. During a time of national crisis and increasing tensions, avoiding such divisive, inflammatory politics must surely be critical.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your officials in the Home Office to discuss the issues raised in this letter further, and look forward to receiving your reply.
Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Jack Kushner, Youth Engagement and Campaigns Support Co-ordinator, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Rabbi Rachel Benjamin
Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts
Rabbi Howard Cooper
Rabbi Janet Darley
Rabbi Colin Eimer
Rabbi Warren Elf MBE
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein
Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton
Rabbi Richard Jacobi
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Rabbi Judith Levitt
Rabbi Monique Mayer
Rabbi Danny Rich
Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky
Rabbi Sybil Sheridan
Rabbi Irit Shillor
Rabbi Jackie Tabick
Rabbi Larry Tabick
Rabbi Roni Tabick
Rabbi Pete Tobias
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Rabbi Alexandra Wright