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Uncertain Times

by Paul FitzPatrick

As I write, uncertainty about the asylum system hangs in the air. An ‘amnesty which is not an amnesty’ has been proposed for (a small proportion of) those waiting years for a determination of their case. It appears to offer a questionnaire instead of an interview. If the few published examples of questions are typical, the language is abstract, technical, an affront to plain English, and designed to be difficult to understand. And there are threats attached to non-completion.

Meanwhile, misinformation abounds. Tensions arise when the arrival of people seeking asylum meets the real inequalities of British society as experienced in housing or the loss of community resources of all kinds.

And as people continue to die crossing the Mediterranean, will the thawing of relations between the UK and the EU lead to a strengthening of ‘Fortress Europe’ rather than a culture of welcome?

All the more reason, then, to continue to pay attention to the language of those political leaders who seem to believe that retaining the so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats requires ‘stopping the boats’. Instead, we need to work together to reduce the misdirected anxiety which insists that ‘we’ can only regain control in an uncertain world by securing our border against those who are considered not to be in their ‘proper place’. Let us recognise a fundamental solidarity. People in Doncaster, Rotherham, or Knowsley share with people seeking asylum the same basic needs to be valued and treated with dignity in housing, services and integration into a common life.

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