On 24 March 2021, the UK Government published its New Plan for Immigration, which sets out various proposals for changes to nationality, immigration and asylum law. The consultation invites members of the public to participate by completing an online survey which consists of a combination of multiple-choice and free text boxes, covering a wide range of proposals.
We have written a briefing for civil society organisations and other agencies in Scotland that are responding to the consultation and provides some guidance on how JustRight Scotland will be framing our own response, as well as some further explanation in relation to some specific questions in the consultation.
Our view is that many of the proposals in the consultation are not based in evidence, contradictory, unworkable and unlawful.
However, we also feel it is important that people and organisations in Scotland respond to the consultation – particularly:
- people who have come to Scotland to seek safety (asylum seekers, survivors of trafficking and domestic abuse and refugees);
- other British and non-British people who live in Scotland and will be affected by the proposals (on British nationality, deportation and statelessness); and
- frontline professionals, civil society organisations, and other agencies who work with and support these groups of people.
We also feel it is important that a wide range of organisations respond to the consultation – not just migration sector organisations, but people who work across the violence against women’s sector, children’s rights, disability, health and mental health, education, labour, anti-trafficking and exploitation, housing and homelessness, and LGBT+ organisations.
Impact in Scotland
Our key concern is that whilst some of the proposals relate to issues that are reserved to the UK Government (for example, proposals around the legal standard for assessing asylum claims, or reforms to British nationality law), some of the proposals are not matters to be decided by the UK Home Office alone, because they are issues devolved to the competence of the Scottish Parliament and/or their impact will fall into areas of devolved competence, such as the identification, support and safeguarding of vulnerable groups.
Our briefing highlights key concerns that could be raised by individuals, civil society and other frontline professionals in relation to the impact of the proposals on:
- survivors of trafficking
- survivors of gender-based violence
- children and families facing destitution
- unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children
- families separated by borders or by migration status
- access to justice for migrants in Scotland
How do we respond to the consultation?
To respond to the online public consultation, follow this link
If you are not able to use the online system to respond, or you would like to respond in a different format, you can also email your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for responding is 11.59pm on 6 May 2021.
This consultation is the first step in a longer process of reforming immigration law.
We expect the UK Government to announce the Sovereign Borders Bill 2021 in spring 2021 and for a further opportunity to respond by way of public consultation to more specific provisions through summer 2021.
We will continue to work with our statutory and third sector partners across Scotland and the UK to ensure that the evidence and experience of people in Scotland who are seeking safety here, and the professionals who work with them, are included in the Government’s evidence at each stage of this process.