In anticipation of Brexit the British Government is proposing a new Emigration Bill which will adversly affect immigrants in the United Kingdom. This prompted religious leaders to sign a joint letter to the British government protesting about the new bill.
The letter written on January 6, feast of the Epiphany, refers to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill is considered by the various faith communities in the UK as “misguided” and a “missed opportunity”.
The bill outlines a new immigration system following the UK’s expected withdrawal from the European Union on 29 March.
The signatories of the letter reminds the government that the feast of the Epiphany commemorates the flight of the Holy Family. This story, they say, “echoes the plight of refugees around the world”.
According to “Vatican News” the religious leaders are very critical of the forced separation of refugee families; the fact that asylum seekers will not have the right to work not even after six months of their stay in the country, the conditions in the detention centres and the way many refugees are met with upon arrival in England. They are calling for a more humane system.
In his speech to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Vatican on 7 January, Pope Francis gave special attention to the defence of the most vulnerable. He said that these include not only refugees but also migrants fleeing from poverty and social instability.
The Pontiff quoted his predecessor, Pope St. Paul VI, saying “We want to speak… for the poor, the disinherited, the unfortunate, and those who long for justice, a dignified life, liberty, prosperity and progress”.
The Holy Father further implored all governments to do their utmost to provide assistance to migrants, and praised the many countries who, at great expense, have already received a significant number of refugees and migrants.