Runnymede signs up to the following statement:
IMMIGRATION AFTER BREXIT: BUILDING BRIDGES, NOT WALLS
The UK’s approach to immigration now lies at the heart of our future beyond the EU.
After Brexit, the Government seemingly intends to turn its back on the world. It plans to introduce tough new rules which could close the door to future talent and subject many more people to unfair treatment here.
We are calling for a better approach, so that all those who come to work, study and make a home here are treated with dignity, fairness and respect. Join us! 5 KEY CALLS FOR ACTION:
1. The UK must take a confident and positive approach to immigration
2. Post-Brexit policy must ‘level up’ treatment of all migrants
3. Immigration rules must be fair, humane & respect the rule of law
4. The immigration system must be reformed & improved
5. Communities must not be divided by hostile rhetoric or policy. 1. The UK must take a confident and positive approach to immigration
Immigration has contributed to our culture, our economy and our communities for centuries and the UK has a proud history of welcoming people from across the world. We want to live in a country that celebrates this history, and values those who come here.
Instead of a dogmatic commitment to arbitrary ‘targets’ for reducing numbers of people coming here, we want to see pragmatic, sensible policies that maximise the benefits of immigration.
We recognise that there are valid concerns about inequality and neglect in our society that often dovetail with concerns about immigration. But we call upon government to find lasting solutions to economic and social problems, rather than scapegoating migrants for them.
Progressives must not accept division, suspicion and insecurity as guiding principles for the public debate about immigration. We must build and strengthen bonds of solidarity to ensure that our future beyond the EU is guided by a confident, positive approach to immigration. 2. Post-Brexit policy must ‘level up’ treatment of all migrants
Whatever the final settlement for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals currently residing in the UK, it is increasingly clear that future EEA nationals seeking to migrate to the UK will be brought under an immigration system that has for decades subjected many non-Europeans to harsh and unfair treatment.
Progressives must resist the temptation to argue for a two-tier system and should instead view this moment as an opportunity to fight for fairer, more just immigration laws that guarantee the same rights to both EEA and non-EEA nationals alike.
As those who are hostile to immigration argue that the rights of EEA nationals should be levelled down, we must call for a levelling up of rights for all those who come here to work, study and make a home. 3. Immigration rules must be fair, humane and respect the rule of law
We believe that post-Brexit immigration policies must be evidence-based, considered and guided by basic progressive principles of fairness and consistency. Your country of origin and your immigration status have nothing to do with your inherent dignity as a human being.
The Government is already using EEA migrants as bargaining chips in its Brexit negotiations. As the UK pursues further trading deals across the world, migrants will continue to be bartered over. Short-term ‘guestworker’ visas could be introduced for low-skilled jobs, leaving many vulnerable to exploitation and potentially spurring an increase in the undocumented population. More families will be affected by some of the harshest immigration rules in Europe.
Brexit is likely to increase the numbers of people subjected to our unfair immigration system. We urge the Government to undertake a full review of immigration policies, and to replace problematic areas with new, even-handed rules fit for today’s world. 4. The immigration system must be reformed & improved
The UK deserves an immigration system that is fair, functional and serves the needs of our society. Recent years have highlighted the unfortunate reality that the Home Office does not currently provide this.
Immigration law has become so convoluted that some areas are difficult for both applicants and officers to understand. The Home Office is overstretched and under-resourced with routine delays and poor decision-making affecting tens of thousands of people every year. Exorbitant application fees are not matched by the quality of service provided by the Home Office or its contracted partners. The system falls well short of the standards of accountability that the UK should expect. Few have appeal rights and there has been a troubling rise in the reliance on detention – including indefinite detention.
The system is broken. It needs reform if it is to deal with the pressures of Brexit without increasing the human suffering and indignity it routinely generates. 5. Communities must not be divided by hostile rhetoric or policy
We all want to live in communities that are tolerant and welcoming. We all strive to be better neighbours.
Sadly, recent years have seen Government rely more heavily on divisive rhetoric and on its so-called ‘hostile environment’ policy. This means that immigration rules are policed locally through in-country controls. Doctors, nurses, teachers, bank clerks and landlords have been enlisted in the service of the Home Office and the border now runs through homes, classrooms and operating theatres.
After Brexit, Government intends to intensify this hostility, extending the use of biometric ID cards and placing ever greater pressure on public service providers and private citizens to enforce immigration rules.
We call on the Government to end its efforts to build a hostile environment. Ours is a diverse and tolerant society. There is no place here for policies that divide communities or leave people fearful of a visit to the doctor or a letter from school.
Over the coming period we will be campaigning for immigration policy after Brexit that can
build bridges, not walls.
Please stay involved and join the fight for a fairer, more just immigration system that works for everyone.