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REFUGEE rights groups will intensify efforts to defeat the Tory Borders Bill with a mass rally outside Parliament on Wednesday.
Hundreds of people are expected to join the Refugees Welcome rally in Parliament Square from 4.30pm as MPs scrutinise the Nationality and Borders Bill.
The protest is part of a week of action against the new legislation, dubbed the “anti-refugee Bill,” which seeks to criminalise asylum-seekers who arrive in Britain via irregular routes and give the Border Force powers to turn around small boats in the Channel.
MPs, lawyers and campaigners have roundly condemned the legislation, with the United Nations refugee agency warning that it would breach international law.
Wednesday’s rally – organised by groups including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Refugee Action and Women for Refugee Women, and supported by dozens more – will call on MPs to drop the Bill.
“Most of us want to live in a caring society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” JCWI interim chief executive Minnie Rahman said.
“The government’s new Borders Bill flies in the face of these values, and instead sets out to criminalise, punish and remove people who’ve sought safety here.
“That’s why we’re joining together … to take a stand against this cruel new legislation, which is designed to sow division and fear.
“In doing so, we will be standing in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and demanding a society based on values of care and compassion, where people can seek protection, rebuild their lives and become part of our communities.”
The rally comes as MPs scrutinise the legislation line by line as part of the Bill’s committee stages, before it returns to the Commons for its third reading.
Somalian refugee Mariam Yusuf, who is due to speak at the rally, warned that the new legislation will “cause a lot of damage, especially for women.”
Having sought asylum in Britain after being trafficked to the country in 2008, Ms Yusuf now campaigns for the rights of other female refugees.
She told the Morning Star that such women “are liable to incur violence and abuse with this new Bill.
“We see women already struggling with destitution. If the Bill goes through it will be very difficult.”
Ms Yusuf feared that women will be “denied a fair hearing” as the Bill requires them to give all the reasons for their asylum claim as soon as they arrive in the country.
“Women are traumatised when they arrive,” she said. “They will need help and counselling before they are able to narrate their story which means they will not be able to have a chance of narrating it.
“If they don’t give enough evidence they will be deemed as not fit for being given protection.”
She continued: “Everybody is outraged with this Bill and even the lawyers … who scrutinise the Bill are saying it is unworkable. So this Bill is going to destroy everything.”
New measures in the Bill announced last week would give Home Secretary Priti Patel new powers to hand out visa sanctions to countries that refuse to “co-operate” with deportations.
Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan warned that the legislation “signals the end of protection as we know it.”
She said: “It fails to encompass even the most basic respect for human rights and dignity.
“It treats those who are trying to find sanctuary, as any of us would do, as criminals, and also paves the way for offshore detention centres.
“The government must scrap these draconian plans.”
Today, a giant puppet of a Syrian child refugee landed in Kent as it continued its 5,000-mile journey symbolising “millions of displaced children.”
Little Amal has travelled through much of Europe after setting off from the Turkish-Syrian border in July, and will finish its journey in Manchester.
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