JRS Comment on UK Government response to Channel-crossing refugees
JRS: Government response to those crossing Channel in search of safety is deeply troubling
In the following statement, Jesuit Refugee Service UK expresses grave concern over the Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s comments on refugees crossing the Channel:
JRS UK is deeply troubled by the Government’s comments and response to those individuals crossing the English Channel to reach the UK in search of safety and security. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those individuals around the world who are struggling to find safety, as we welcome in this New Year.
As was widely reported today (Wednesday 2 January), Mr Javid spoke to reporters during a visit to Dover. He appeared to address those individuals making the treacherous journey across the Channel directly, saying: “if you do somehow make it to the UK, we (the UK Government) will do everything we can to make sure that you are often not successful (in your asylum claim).”
In response to these comments, Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK, said: “The comments made by the Home Secretary today amount to the government pre-judging an individual’s claim for sanctuary, something to which every individual has a legal right. This is likely to have disturbing implications for the fairness and credibility of the UK asylum determination system as a whole.
“Somewhere in all this we seem to have forgotten that those men women and children making the treacherous journey across the Channel are our fellow human beings who are in need of our care, support and compassion.
“It is especially disappointing to see a Home Secretary, who initially expressed high ideals about changing the culture of the Home Office, resort so quickly to the standard fare of inflammatory rhetoric that stokes fears and prejudices and results in a system which views all migrants with the hermeneutic of suspicion.
“A person’s asylum application must always be assessed and determined on its individual merit, regardless of how the individual arrived in the country not be pre-determined ahead of their claim being heard, as implied by Mr Javid.”
In his Message for the 2019 World Day of Peace for 1 January 2019, Pope Francis focused on the role of politics as “an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.” Singling out the problem of contempt for those seeking exile, His Holiness continued, “Politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony.”
Sarah Teather continued: “The tendency of senior politicians to whip up mistrust against the small number of men, women and children seeking sanctuary in the UK is a long-running story that predates the current Home Secretary. The Pope’s essay on politics should be essential reading for anyone serious about changing the culture and approach.”