Church of England’s synod may back asylum seeker's right to work

By staff writers
February 13, 2009

Following its vote on Tuesday to ban its clergy and workers from membership of the BNP, the Church of England’s General Synod may call for the right to work for asylum seekers in the UK.

Today (Friday) the synod (or 'Parliament') will vote on a motion about the ‘intolerable situation’ of people refused asylum living in destitution.

Synod members are expected to condemn the government's use of destitution as a tool of public policy.

A motion for debate entitled ‘Justice and asylum seekers’ has been tabled by the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham. It calls for the right to work for people seeking asylum and for an amnesty for the massive back-log of “legacy” cases which predate the government's ‘New Asylum Model’.

It says that “care for the vulnerable, welcome for strangers and foreigners” is an essential part of the Christian message.

Niall Cooper, National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Across Britain many churches are picking up the pieces of the government's despicable use of destitution to try to force asylum seekers out of the country. For many people refused asylum there is no safe route back so they are stuck in limbo here. For the last few years our Living Ghosts campaign has been seeking to ensure the principle of ‘work for those who can, support for those who can't’ should include all people on these islands, which includes people refused asylum.”

The full text of the motion is as follows:

“That this Synod, continuing to affirm scriptural teaching about care for the vulnerable, welcome for strangers and foreigners, and the Church’s calling to reach out to the marginalized and persecuted, call upon Her Majesty’s Government:
(a) to ensure that the treatment of asylum seekers is just and compassionate, and to that end to consider:
(i) conferring a right to work on all asylum seekers, and
(ii) declaring an amnesty for so called ‘legacy cases’ that predate the Government’s New Asylum Model;
(b) to find a practical and humane remedy to the intolerable situation of destitute ‘refused’ asylum seekers who are unable to return to their country of origin because of personal safety, health or family reasons.’

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