- 2002 National Black Members' Conference
- 8 November 2002
Conference deplores the fact that during the Labour Government’s second term of office, asylum and immigration legislation remains oppressive and racially discriminatory. This Conference further condemns the Labour Government’s proposal in the Asylum, Immigration and Nationality Bill that proposes to withdraw the right of appeal from asylum seekers in this country.
Conference applauds the work of all UNISON members, other organisations and individuals who continue to fight the injustice of this legislation.
Conference welcomes the move by the Government to finally end the humiliating and demeaning voucher system for asylum seekers. However, Conference is alarmed by the Government’s attempts, along with other EU member states, to link the war against terrorism to the war against human trafficking and the need for a deterrent asylum system. This approach has led to asylum seekers being stigmatised as criminals and potential terrorists and having their basic human rights trampled on.
Conference is appalled by many of the proposals published by Government in the White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Havens and in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill that once again seeks to further restrict the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. These proposals include:
1)The introduction of bio smart cards for asylum seekers;
2)Asylum seekers being forced to live in accommodation centres;
3)The continuation of mandatory dispersal;
4)The introduction of mandatory English tests as a prerequisite for citizenship;
5)The introduction of a one-stop appeal mechanism;
6)The removal of the right to appeal against removal directions;
7)The introduction of provisions to deport children who have been given leave to remain once they have reached 18 years of age;
8)The damaging proposals to exclude children of asylum seekers from the mainstream education system;
9)The extension of powers to stop search and arrest asylum seekers.
Conference believes such draconian measures are not compatible with the spirit of the 1951 United Nations Convention on refugees and further undermines the fairness and dignity with which refugees and asylum seekers should be treated.
i)The Government’s policy on and media scapegoating of asylum seekers are fuelling an atmosphere where racist violence is increasing along with support for fascist parties such as the British National Party;
ii)The Home Secretary’s proposals amount to the biggest attack on civil liberties since World War Two;
iii)Refugees and immigrants have, for generations, made a positive contribution to United Kingdom society both economically and culturally.
Conference, therefore, instructs the National Black Members’ Committee, in conjunction with the National Lesbian and Gay Committee, National Disabled Members’ Committee, National Women’s Committee and the National Young Members’ Forum to:
a)Campaign against the latest Nationality Immigration and Asylum Bill;
b)Request that the National Executive Council seek support for this through the TUC, Welsh TUC and Scottish TUC;
c)Continue to support and oppose these draconian measures through the broad based Speak out Against Racism, Defend Asylum Seekers campaign;
d)Support the national campaign the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, BCM Box 4289, London WC1X 3XX;
e)The National Black Members’ Committee report back to National Black Members’ Conference 2003 on the progress of this campaign.