Families Together Coalition Responds to the Second Reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill

July 21, 2021

On Monday the 19th and Tuesday the 20th of July, a parliamentary debate took place concerning the proposed changes to the UK asylum system laid out in the Nationality and Borders bill. At the close of yesterday’s debate, 366 MPs voted in favour of the bill, with 265 MPs voting against. The proposed legislation outlined in the bill effectively creates a discriminatory two-tier asylum system, undermining how the UK fulfils its international obligations to those seeking asylum. The Bill will criminalise and punish refugees, depending on how they arrived in the UK, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of women, men and children who are able to access family reunion, one of the few existing safe and regular routes into the UK.

Opposition MP’s raised the widespread concerns that this bill is in fact an anti-refugee bill, that it sets out to undermine the 1951 Refugee Convention and it will place refugees in further harm, pushing them into the hands of people smugglers and increasing the strain on their mental and physical well-being. A number of MP’s raised concerns about refugee family reunion including the impact that restricted access to family reunion for group two refugees will have on women and children. 

Stuart McDonald stated that ‘Their refugee family reunion rights will be diminished, according to the plan, meaning that they cannot be joined by a spouse or perhaps a child. The detail is not in the Bill, but that is what the plan suggests and the Bill enables… that inevitably gives the Christian convert a choice: does the family stay apart or do other family members—often the women and children that the Home Secretary professes to be protecting—then have to follow and make their own dangerous journeys? Without the family, without state support and without stability, the Uyghur, the Syrian and the persecuted Christian convert have no hope of rebuilding their lives. That amounts not to a place of sanctuary, but to a place of punishment—and the Home Office has the audacity to claim that it is in their best interests.’