Response to HM's Government White Paper on Immigration, Citizenship and Asylum Secure Boarders, Safe Heaven | Asylum Seeker | Immigration

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In this White Paper the Government seriously attempts to address the nature of British society within the context of the realities of a twenty-first century world. This is a world shaped by modern technology, a globalising economy, and post-Cold War politics which are characterised by widening disparities in wealth, and increasing breakdown of security and state protection in under-developed nations. All these factors are creating a huge movement of people around the world. Some aspects of the Government’s analysis are to be applauded. In particular, we welcome the recognition that migration for economic reasons is understandable and valid
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    RESPONSE TO HM GOVERNMENT’S WHITE PAPER ON IMMIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP AND ASYLUM SECURE BORDERS, SAFE HAVEN    Contents Introduction ……………………………………………………………… 4 Oxfam’s Response to the White Paper  ………………………………5 Issues of Access…………………………………………………………. 5 Working in the UK………………………………………………………… 5 Refugee Resettlement…………………………………………………..  6 Border Controls………………………………………………………….  7  Asylum Support System……………………………………………….. 8  Abolition of vouchers/Cash Support………………………………….. 8  Asylum Registration Cards ……………………………………………. 8 Induction Centres……………………………………………………… . 9  Accommodation Centres……………………………………………… 11 Dispersal………………………………………………………………… 11 Reporting Centres………………………………………………………  12 Detention……………………………………………………………….. 12 Determination of Claims……………………………………………… 13 Removals……………………………………………………………… 13 Voluntary Assisted Returns…………………………………………. 14 Refugee Integration………………………………………………….. 14 Matters not dealt with in the White Paper  ………………………. 14 Resources ……………………………………………………………… 14 Gender Issues ………………………………………………………… 15 Permission to work… ………………………………………………… 15 Conclusion …………………………………………………………… 15 Summary of Recommendations …………………………………. 16   Appendix 1 …………………………………………………………… 19 Oxfam’s experience working with and on behalf of asylum-seekers and refugees 2    The views expressed by Oxfam in this submission come from its experience of working with and on behalf of refugees and asylum-seekers, as we have described above. However, we were also keen to seek and represent the views of asylum-seekers and refugees on the proposals put forward in the White Paper. To this end, we conducted a small consultation exercise with refugees and asylum-seekers in the Oxford area. These views are contained in the text boxes. The consultation meeting was attended by 11 people, seven asylum-seekers and four people with Indefinite or Exceptional Leave to Remain, from Iran, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe. All were men. The observations made at this meeting are included in the boxes below. While such a small number of people certainly cannot be seen as representative, their views offer an interesting insight into the perspective and experience of some individuals who are seeking or have sought protection in the UK. 3    Introduction In this White Paper the Government seriously attempts to address the nature of British society within the context of the realities of a twenty-first century world. This is a world shaped by modern technology, a globalising economy, and post-Cold War politics which are characterised by widening disparities in wealth, and increasing breakdown of security and state protection in under-developed nations. All these factors are creating a huge movement of people around the world. Some aspects of the Government’s analysis are to be applauded. In particular, we welcome the recognition that migration for economic reasons is understandable and valid; that the UK can benefit from immigration; that the UK must open up more routes for legal entry to the UK for both migrants and refugees; and that those fleeing persecution must be welcomed and protected. We regret, however, that the analysis in the White Paper is not adequately reflected in the proposals for action. The proposed new ‘routes of entry’ into the UK may turn out to be too limited and too cautious to have a significant impact. These issues are addressed in the first section of this submission, Issues of Access We are also disappointed at the tone of Chapter 4 on asylum, which still reflects the attitude that what the asylum system needs most is more control, more deterrence, more powers to remove failed asylum seekers as quickly as possible. The White Paper addresses many issues that surround those seeking asylum in this country, but does not adequately address the core question: how do we ensure that we recognise those in need of protection from persecution, and offer them a life in this country that offers them both security and a regard for their human rights? This issue is addressed in the sections on Determination of Claims and Removals The recognition of those in need of protection lies at the heart of the asylum process. Oxfam acknowledges that those who are found, by a thorough, just and equitable judicial process, not to be in need of protection do not have the right to remain in the UK. Oxfam also believes that while that decision is being made, asylum-seekers should be able to live with dignity, and should not be forced to live in poverty. Our definition of poverty goes beyond the purely economic to encompass problems of powerlessness. We are, of course, concerned at the poverty of asylum-seekers who are forced to live on inadequate levels of financial support. But we are also concerned that, with its increased focus upon controlling asylum-seekers and limiting their opportunities to take part in society, the White Paper will deny asylum-seekers’ basic rights and inhibit their integration into UK society. In the comments on the proposed changes to the  Asylum Support System, and Detention, this submission works from the basic principle that asylum-seekers should be allowed to live within the community, with a reasonable degree of self-determination over their own lives, unless there are exceptional and substantial reasons why this should not be the case. Many of the comments throughout the consultation meeting reflected the view that the Government imposes too much control on the lives of asylum-seekers, who are forced into a state of dependency. There was a real sense of confusion about why asylum-seekers were not allowed, and indeed   encouraged, to work from the day of their arrival, so that they could be self-sufficient, and not be a drain on government resources . “The government do not understand – most of us came here expecting that we would just have to find work and look after ourselves. We don’t want to live off the Government. We want to work and support ourselves. We want to make choices about our lives” 4
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