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Open Letter to Mrs. KIM JOHNSON MP

Posted on 16th April, 2022

St. Vincent de Paul Presbytery

13 Hardy Street,


L1 5JN

Mrs Kim Johnson MP,

Liverpool Riverside Office

Kuumba Imani Millenium Centre

4 Princes Road


L8 1TH

 Saturday 16th April 2022



Dear Mrs Johnson,

I hope you are well. I am writing to you as I would like to raise my concerns about the Nationality and Borders Bill as it returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments. The Bill is a key instrument in a wider overhaul of the asylum system proposed in the government’s New Plan for Immigration. This legislation shows no respect for human dignity, justice, or the protection of human life.  

Already, asylum claimants often struggle to get justice and are re-traumatised by the asylum process and life in the asylum system. Proposals in The Bill would create further barriers to protection for those who badly need it, and an even more hostile environment for asylum seekers and refugees.

Some of my key concerns are:

  1. The Bill would punish refugees for how they got to the UK. This ignores the reality of seeking asylum and is deeply cruel. Refugees rarely have a choice of how they travel, and the Refugee Convention does not oblige them to seek asylum in the first safe country they come to. Ukrainian refugees trying to get to the UK are currently held in limbo by complex visa processes, demonstrating the folly of insisting that refugees must obtain authorisation prior to travel. Under the Bill’s proposals for differential treatment, Ukrainian, Afghan, Syrian, and other refugees would be heavily penalised if they arrive other than by pre-arranged routes. These plans deny the right of refugees to seek asylum, and should be abandoned.
  2. The Bill would allow for asylum seekers to be removed from the UK while their claims are being processed, opening the door to offshore processing of asylum claims.[i] This would be highly impractical and costly, and has given rise to serious human rights abuses in other contexts where it has occurred. It undermines our commitment to processing claims fairly and offering sanctuary to refugees.
  3. The Bill would make people seeking sanctuary more vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery. By punishing refugees who arrive without the right documentation and makes it easier to subject them to criminal penalties, it will make it much harder for trafficking victims to seek help from police. Victims of trafficking are regularly warned by their traffickers that if they go to the authorities, they will just be detained rather than helped. This Bill therefore plays into the hands of traffickers.
  4. The new move by the Government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to continue their process of verification and consideration does not take into consideration the fragile state of human rights in that country. By this move the government shows its lack of responsibility for the care of the vulnerable and those who suffer. Given the comparative poverty and the clear lack of democratic accountability of the Rwandan state, there is no guarantee that justice will be done and seen to be done.


This legislation is deeply cruel, impractical, and destructive to the common good. Changes that peers supported reflect widespread concerns with these key aspects of the Bill. I urge you to support changes that abandon differential treatment of refugees, criminalising of refugees for arriving without documents, and offshore processing.


Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to arrange to meet with you to discuss this matter further.


Yours sincerely,



Fr. Terence Madden and Fr. Ferdinand Van Campen



Cc to Westminster address



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