Stephen Kinnock MP, the Shadow Minister for Immigration, started by outlining how we’d got to this situation of increased numbers of migrants coming over in small boats, with other previously used routes shut down by changes to the freight infrastructure. But the Government’s policy of leaving the European Union without resolving whether asylum seekers could be returned to safe countries they travelled through has exacerbated it.
Kinnock pointed out all the basic financial, legal and logistical challenges that make Suella Braverman’s “Illegal” Migrants Bill completely undeliverable.
We then heard from Merton Citizens, who campaign for asylum seekers who are waiting for their claims to be processed – often for many many months if not years – to be allowed to work through the “Lift the Ban” campaign, which Merton Council has signed up to. We heard directly from Kevan, an El Savadorean asylum seeker who is desperate to contribute.
Finally, we heard about the amazing work that has gone into welcoming Ukrainian refugees here, from Naomi Martin of Commonside and Julia Gorytska from Polish Family Association. Julia was a university lecturer in Kyiv, and when she came to London last summer quickly began supporting other Ukrainians to settle. She talked about how being able to get a paid job providing frontline support has made her feel like she is contributing back to the country that gave her safety.
Despite holding the meeting on a very rainy evening, we were joined by around 40 people, including some non-members and members from neighbouring CLPs. We look forward to holding other public events in the near future – let me know your ideas for potential topics, particularly if you have expertise and can speak on it, or have a contact who does.
Eleanor Stringer, email@example.com