At last week’s meeting of Tower Hamlets Full Council on Wednesday 15th March, Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Aspire Party councillors voted against hearing an emergency motion against the Conservative Government’s vicious “Illegal Immigration Bill.”
The motion was proposed by Tower Hamlets Labour Group in response to the emerging legislation and the potential impact it could have on families in Tower Hamlets and on the borough, which is traditionally a home for refugee and migrant communities.
No member of the Aspire group voted to hear the motion.
The full text of the motion is below.
Illegal Migration Bill
Urging Government not to pursue the cruel Illegal Migration Bill and break
Proposer: Councillor Sabina Khan
Seconder: Councillor Amina Ali
This Council Notes:
- The Illegal Migration Bill will change the law so that those who arrive in
the UK illegally will not be able to stay here and will instead be detained
and then promptly removed, and then ban them from returning once
removed. Currently, asylum seekers have the right to remain in this
country to have their claims heard.
- Tower Hamlets council stands proudly behind the refugee convention and
the European convention on human rights. We believe that all who seek
asylum and refugee status deserve a fair hearing and we should not
detain anyone without a legal process.
- The Home Secretary’s Bill will not touch people smugglers or people
traffickers, but it will cause serious and devastating harm to those who
have already endured incredible suffering.
- Immigration lawyers and NGOs have warned the government’s strategy
amounts to a de facto withdrawal from the 1951 UN convention on
refugees, introduced after many countries turned away Jewish refugees
during the second world war.
- The UN refugee agency said that the legislation would in effect deny
protection to many asylum seekers and prevent them from putting their
case. “This would be a clear breach of the refugee convention and would
undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British
people are rightly proud,” said the UNHCR. The bill has been criticised
by opposition MPs, charities, and migration experts as “unworkable”, in
part because the UK has no viable agreements in place for the return of
refugees to “safe” third countries.
This Council Further notes:
- Considering appeals, 59% of asylum applications submitted in 2017 to
2019 inclusive are estimated to have received a grant of asylum-
related protection by May 2021.
- Tower Hamlets has a proud and rich history of welcoming refugees
and asylum seekers. From the Huguenots and Ashkenazi jews fleeing
Russia in the 17 th century to the Somali refugees fleeing civil war in
This council believes: –
- It’s unacceptable in the UK to imprison people without any court
process, knowing that some of them are not only innocent of any
crime but are fleeing persecution.
- This bill will not stop people taking dangerous journeys, instead people
will find even more dangerous routes to cross.
- It is important to uphold the principles of justice and fairness, which
are integral to a functioning democracy. Any policy or action that
undermines these principles should be scrutinized and challenged to
ensure that the rule of law is upheld.
This council resolves to: –
- We reaffirm our support for Human right granted to us under the Un
convention of human right 1951, The universal declaration of human
right 1948 and European convention of human rights – which provides
that anybody in the UK is protected by due process of law and cannot be
imprisoned without a legal process.
- Tower Hamlet’s council Support and we will increase funding for agencies
who provide services to asylum seekers and refugees in Tower hamlets.
- To liaise with NHS Tower Hamlets to communicate with GP’s and primary
care providers to shape the services to accommodate asylum seekers health
- Tower Hamlets children and families’ services to take account of the new
refugees and asylum seekers and shape the services to support them. Its
our moral duty to support the most vulnerable in our society.
- Forward a copy of this motion to Suella Braverman Home Secretary of the
United Kingdom express that this bill is cruel, immoral, and unworkable. – we
urge Members of Parliament Rushanara Ali and Apsana Begum to support this motion and to raise this important issue in Parliament. Call on the Executive Mayor and the Lead Member for community safety to work with asylum seekers and Tower Hamlets stand up to racism organisation to show our solidarity.