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SUELLA BRAVERMAN was slammed by anti-racists and migrant rights campaigners today after saying that those coming to Britain through non-government approved routes “have values at odds with our country.”
As the Illegal Migrant Bill returned to the Commons today, the Home Secretary said: “We are seeing heightened levels of criminality when related to the people who’ve come on boats, related to drug dealing, exploitation, prostitution.”
The Bill, dubbed the anti-refugee Bill by human rights groups, will change the law so that those who arrive in Britain on small boats and other dangerous routes will be detained and removed to the country they were trying to get away from or to a third country such as Rwanda.
It is expected to pass in the Commons but could face obstacles in the Lords.
Stand Up To Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said Ms Braverman’s latest comments are “yet another attempt to stir up racism,” adding: “Research shows the vast majority of those crossing the Channel are desperate people fleeing wars and persecution and have every right to seek asylum here.
“Portraying them as criminals is abhorrent and racist.”
Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley called her language “inflammatory, polarising and dehumanising.”
She said: “People fleeing conflict, war and persecution have a legal right to claim asylum, they just don’t have a safe way of coming to the UK.”
Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan said that the majority of people who cross the Channel are granted refugee status as they have a legitimate claim to asylum.
She said: “Ms Braverman accuses them of being criminals and traffickers when it is her own government’s failure to provide safe passage which forces them into the hands of the criminals and traffickers.
“This divisive and discriminatory rhetoric will embolden more far- right attacks against those seeking our protection.”
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) campaigns and networks manager Mary Atkinson said the comments are “straight from the far-right’s playbook.”
She said: “We are used to dog-whistles and nudge-wink rhetoric from this government — but with these comments, the mask has come off.
“This is just more government spin to push through this dangerous refugee ban Bill.
“We need to demand this Bill is scrapped and insist the government provide safe routes for people seeking refuge now.”
Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum proposed a range of human rights amendments in the Bill and protections for pregnant migrants.
She warned that the Bill will imprison pregnant women and put their health and the life of their unborn child at risk.
“Migrant women, who should have finally escaped persecution, will be facing pregnancy and birth alone — without proper medical support facing the fear of potential separation from their baby or worse,” Ms Begum said.
“This despite the fact that pregnant women in prison are almost twice as likely to give birth prematurely and five times more likely to experience a stillbirth.
“The UK should be offering people in need protection, not pursing political point scoring regardless of the consequences.”
SNP home affairs spokeswoman Alison Thewliss pushed for the party’s amendment which would prevent the government from “extending their harmful proposals on unaccompanied children to the devolved nations without their consent.”
“This Bill remains an affront to human decency and to our obligations to our fellow human beings,” she said.
“The Bill will not meet its stated aims, but it will cost lives, and it fails to provide safe and legal routes. It will cause untold suffering.”
Former Tory leaders Theresa May and Sir Iain Duncan Smith both warned that the Bill will leave more people facing modern slavery in Britain.
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