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Westminster should consult Holyrood on ‘anti-refugee bill’, Scots say

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ALL asylum seekers should have the right to work and the UK Government should seek consent from Holyrood before enacting its “anti-refugee bill”, according to new polling seen by The National.

The findings come from wide-ranging research set to be published by the Scottish Refugee Council today.

The polling, by Survation, reveals welcoming attitudes towards those seeking sanctuary, with 47% saying they’d be happy if a refugee family was housed in their local area, compared with 11% who’d be unhappy, and 82% said “people deserve to live in dignity while their asylum claim is processed”.

Meanwhile, 79% of the 100-plus people surveyed agreed refugees are “ordinary people just like us” and 77% of people stating that those seeking refugee status “should have the right to work to support themselves and their families”. Only 7% disagreed with this.

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On Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill — dubbed the anti-refugee bill by campaigners due to measures that would criminalise all those who reach the UK by irregular means — 45% said that “would deliver a hammer blow to the UK’s ability to help people fleeing for their lives in crises such as that in Afghanistan today”, while just 13% disagreed with the statement.

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A provision in that bill has raised grave fears over potential drownings in the English Channel, stating that officials would “not be liable any criminal or civil proceedings for anything done” while turning around small boats carrying refugees seeking asylum in the UK.

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And the vast majority – 66% – said the UK Government should “consult or seek consent” from the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government due that bill’s impact on devolved legislation like criminal justice.

Most people thought the Scottish Government, not the UK Government or Home Office, who should hold responsibility for decisions on identifying and supporting trafficking victims in Scotland.

The findings are to be released during the UK-wide Together With Refugees week of action.

Sabir Zazai, who leads the Scottish charity, said: “The majority of people in Scotland want to live in a country in which people seeking safety are treated with dignity and can live as members of communities who are able to support themselves and their families through work.

“Scotland wants to welcome refugees. I have had the privilege of witnessing this warm welcome first hand as our staff supports people to integrate into communities across the breadth of the country, and as we continue to receive so many incredibly generous offers of support from the Scottish public for people fleeing Afghanistan.

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“Sadly, this warm welcome is not reflected in legislation from Westminster. The UK Government’s anti-refugee bill seeks to implement an even more hostile regime, which criminalises people seeking sanctuary and houses people in institutional accommodation with little control over their lives.

“These simply are not the wishes of the people of Scotland. It is not too late for the UK Government to scrap this anti-refugee bill and stand together with people seeking protection to build a humane and fair asylum system of which we can all be proud.”

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