Should nations prevent anyone from crossing their borders? We are all citizens of the world, so should we have the right to live and work where we choose?
All governments have a responsibility to their citizens to keep their country safe and ensure economic and social stability for their citizens. There would be mass immigration without border control, which would put enormous burdens on infrastructure and public services, inevitably leading to economic instability and unemployment.
This are the reasons why every country has its own rules about who may travel, work, and reside within its borders.
Every country has the right to protect its borders.
Every country has legal migration routes via visas or work permits.
Every day, thousands of migrants and refugees leave their countries in search of refuge, safety and better lives.
Refugees are unique in their plight; they have fled their country, unable or unwilling to return because of war, violence or fear of violence, or being persecuted because of their race, religion, sexuality, nationality, or political opinion.
An economic migrant is different from a refugee, being someone who leaves his or her country of origin for education or financial or economic reasons. Economic migrants choose to move in order to find a better life and they do not flee from war-torn countries or because of persecution.
Refugees and migrants are not the same, even though many people – especially on the opposite side of the House - argue that all migrants should be treated as if they are refugees on the basis that they are all seeking a better, more secure life.
The United Kingdom has a proud record of helping those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny from around the world. Alongside providing around £10 billion a year to support people through our overseas aid, the UK is a global leader in refugee resettlement. As a country, between 2016 and 2019 we resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any member state of the EU. In total across all Government funded resettlement schemes, the UK has resettled more than 25,000 vulnerable refugees in need of protection over the past 6 years, with around half being children. Over 29,000 family reunion visas have also been issued in the last 5 years.
This Bill seeks to retain a compassionate approach and combine it with increased fairness, firmness and efficiency.
I welcome the ambition to see an asylum system based on need, to better protect and support those who require our help most.
I welcome the fact that the Government is strengthening the safe and legal routes for refugees and fixing historic anomalies in British Nationality law.
I welcome the Government’s commitment to ensuring that resettlement programmes are responsive to emerging international crises and that persecuted minorities are represented. Continuing to resettle refugees directly from regions of conflict and instability fulfils our manifesto commitment to support those fleeing persecution.
I welcome the improved support for refugees provided for in this Bill, to help these vulnerable people build their lives in the UK. The enhanced integration package and immediate indefinite leave to remain in the UK for refugees who are resettled through our safe and legal routes will make it more attractive to use legal means of resettlement than illegal ones and help to deter perilous crossings.
It is well known that refugees seeking asylum in the UK are not penalised for entering illegally.
I welcome life sentences for people smugglers. It is vital that we crack down on the criminal groups that risk lives. Strengthening penalties will halt the business model of criminal trafficking networks and protect those who are in danger of being trafficked.
By cracking down on illegal immigration, we can prioritise those in genuine need. This will help prevent people making dangerous and unnecessary journeys to the UK.
I particularly welcome the commitment to tackle modern slavery and the increased protections for those found to be a victim of modern slavery.
For too long criminal gangs have profited from our broken asylum system at the expense of vulnerable people who need protection and the British public, who pay for it.
This Nationality and Borders Bill will create a fair but firm system and delivering on our promise to take full control of our borders.