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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.

Yours sincerely,


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

© 2020 THE JEWISH COUNCIL FOR RACIAL EQUALITY. REGISTERED CHARITY 1132666  TEL: 020 8455 0896

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