Why not join us?
OK, you ve looked at the website, hopefully read articles, and looked at some of the links. So why not actually join LD4SOS ? If you are a member of the Lib Dems, and support our aims, then why not?
We are delighted we have a lot of supporters, but we need members to be able to take our work forwards and become an official organisation within the Liberal Democrats. This would mean that we can put policy motions and amendments in our name, as well as have a stall at conferences.
All you have to do is click here or the 'join us' button on the left hand side of this website.
Asylum and immigration: Your views are still needed - policy has not been made yet!
A lot is being said about what Lib Dem policy says about asylum and immigration issues. However our policy remains what it was when we went into the 2010 election. Policy is being made, as we have said here before, through the process of consultation on a document from the Policy and Working Group. If you are going to Lib Dem Conference, please try to go to the consultation session at 10.00 am on the Saturday morning.
If not, whether you are a Lib Dem member or supporter or not, please do submit comments by October 11th.
Only after all the comments have been gone through by the Working Group will policy be actually put into a policy document to go to the MARCH 2014 Conference for approval or amendment by conference. In the meantime any announcements by anyone in the party are NOT our actual party policy !!
The consultation paper on Immigration, Asylum and Identity is available from the part website at www.libdems.org.uk/autumn_conference_papers.aspx and you can use the link below to download a consultation form.
Immigration, Asylum and Identity Consulation form
Lib Dem Conference events organised by LD4SOS. Please come along if you are at conference!
LD4SOS are having their first AGM on SUNDAY at 1.00 p.m. in the Hebrides Room of the Crowne Plaza.
We are very sorry that Sarah Teather can no longer come to speak at this event, but Lord Tony Greaves is going to speak, on "Why Liberal Democrats should stand up for Asylum Seekers". So it should be interesting, and the more formal AGM follows, with hopefully time to discuss the way forward for LD4SOS.
If you haven't yet joined LD4SOS, please use the links on the left to get a membership form and pay a £10 subscription (£5 for unwaged).
If you want to stand for election to our council, please use the nomination form below.
There is also a fringe meeting organised by LD4SOS on the Monday lunchtime, from 1.00pm to 2.00 p.m. at the India Quay Restaurant, Finnieston Street, opposite the Hilton Garden Hotel, and SECC complex. (first floor, sorry no lift). Join us for a facilitated round table discussions over a buffet lunch as we listen to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland sharing with politicians their experiences of the asylum system, and their recommendations for improvements.
Speakers are: Lord (Roger) Roberts of Llandudno; Gary Christie, Head of Policy and Communications, Scottish Refugee Council; Nico, a long term destitute asylum seeker from Zimbabwe will share his views.
Young people will share their best and worst experiences of being asylum seekers in Glasgow
Hopefully you can come to this event, too. It is not the usual fringe with a panel of speakers and a few questions. All will have a chance to listen first hand to those with those who are or have been through the asylum system, and join in discussion if you wish.
We are sorry that Sarah Teather has announced that she will not be standing for Parliament again in 2015, and are grateful for her sterling work so far, in standing up and fighting for the rights of those seeking asylum. We look forward to continuing to work with her, as well as other MPs and Peers, on these issues in the future.
Nomination form for AGM elections to LD4SOS Council
Lib Dem conference bid to stop Home Office Poster Vans
Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and LD4SOS have been working together on a motion to conference condemning these offensive and racist vans. There will be a ballot to decide which two emergency motions are taken, so we hope all those going to conference will make this one a number one on the ballot paper. We need a very strong, loud and clear message to go to the Home Office from Lib Dems, and predict it will have 100% support if it is debated!
The text of the motion is below :
Emergency Motion: Home Office Poster Vans and Attitude and Approach to Migrant Communities
Conference notes that:
In July 2013 Home Office poster vans bearing the message In the UK illegally? Go Home or Face Arrest were deployed in six London Boroughs as part of a pilot scheme.
The Advertising Standards Authority is currently investigating the campaign after receiving a large number of complaints.
Conference believes that:
Immigrants to the UK are largely the result of Britain s history, providing an economic benefit to this country and enriching our culture and diversity.
The Government can encourage voluntary returns of those with no legal status who have no alternative in a more collaborative way than forced removals and divisive campaigns.
The Home Office poster van advertisements are offensive and irresponsible. They risk inciting and exacerbating racial hatred and tensions, especially in multicultural communities.
The poster van campaign is an insensitive and ineffective way of dealing with illegal immigration and is unlikely to encourage voluntary returns.
Resources and effort should be directed at detecting unscrupulous employers who exploit and provide refuge to illegal immigrants.
The condemnation of the Poster Vans by the Party Leader, President and senior Parliamentarians.
Conference calls on the Government:
1. Not to repeat or roll out more widely the initial pilot.
2. To work with community groups, local authorities and NGOs to encourage voluntary returns in a more effective, liberal, sympathetic and humane manner.
3. To take immediate and decisive action against those encouraging people to come to the UK llegally.
Immigration, asylum and Identity - consultation on party policy
The Lib Dem policy working group on 'Immigration, asylum and Identity' has now published the consultation document that it has been working on from April.
There will be a session at the Lib Dem Party conference in Glasgow on Saturday 14th September from 10.00 am till 1.00 pm for Lib Dems at conference to be able to have an input into this document, and influence policy in this way.
If you cannot come to conference, contributions to the consultation process are very welcome in writing. Please circulate this document to all that you know, including those who are not party members, so that there can be as wide ranging input as possible.
(Please note there have been some minor changes since the document was first made available. You can use the link below to obtain the final version of the consulatation document.)
Responses need to be received at party HQ (8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE) by 11th October. After the consultation has taken place, all submissions will be looked at and as a result of this a policy paper will be prepared for the party s spring 2014 conference.
UPDATE: Click here to view the consultation document (in pdf format)
Help for Syrian Refugees
LD4SOS have written to Nick Clegg and other Lib Dem parliamentarians asking them, in addition to debating the case for or against military intervention in Syria, to take up the cause of refugees from Syria.
We have pointed out that :
- There are a total of almost 2 million refugees that have fled from Syria.
- One million of those are children.
- 8,000 people a day are arriving in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
- This is resulting enormous pressures in these countries and a humanitarian crisis.
We have asked Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers to make reference to this, and demand that support and aid are given by the UK Government to the countries hosting the refugees. Also that those Syrians that arrive in the UK are given the support and recognition that they need. In addition, that the necessary help be given for families that are split by the atrocities in Syria, to be able to get visas to be reunited and join their partner in this country.
Jimmy Mubenga inquest
We remain shocked about the death of Jimmy Mubenga at the hands of the government contractors at the time. Whilst it does not bring him back to his family, we are pleased that the inquest has ruled that it was an unlawful killing, and look for progress after that.
Citizens UK have put out a statement that we agree with entirely, and thank them for their work on the issue. They are making for 3 simple recommendations:
- That there is no need for the deliberate use of pain to control people being removed;
- That there should be better forms of risk assessment with a panel to be used for complex cases;
- That there should be more monitoring of what actually happens on enforced removals.
We think that all of these recommendations are able to be implemented quickly, and effectively. Some of us were present at a large meeting of Citizens UK Diaspora in November last year, when the head of Reliance agreed that these recommendations were both reasonable and possible.
Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary are demanding that the Home Office make swift progress on taking these recommendations further, as a priority, before there is another avoidable tragedy.
Click here for the full statement by Citizens UK
Immigration poster vans: "disproportionate, distasteful and ineffective"
A letter has been sent to the Guardian from LD4SOS denouncing the scandal of the Illegal immigration poster vans in London. The letter was sent on 24th July in response to an article in The Guardian on 22nd July.
We don't know if it will be printed or not, but after it was sent we were greatly relieved that the following official statement has been made by the Liberal Democrats:
"These poster vans were not cleared or agreed by Liberal Democrats in government. We are totally committed to tackling illegal immigration but this is a disproportionate, distasteful and ineffective way to do it."
Click here for the text of the letter to The Guardian
Thank you Sarah Teather
July 13th's Guardian has a must read interview with Sarah Teather. It is an excellent article, with her giving in depth views on her deep unease not only with the Coalition s immigration policy, but also the political consensus of the three party leaders that public concern about immigration means they must be seen to crack down on it, regardless of whether it s the actual cause of the problems the public is concerned with. She also exposes the Tories perverse decision to heap more and more responsibility for policing immigration onto citizens, such as GPs and private landords. This from the party supposedly cutting down on red tape and bureaucracy to help health professionals and business.
Do find time to read this article.
Link to article on The Guardian's website
Social Liberal Forum Conference - Manchester 2013
John and I went to this conference, not too sure what to expect. However it was great to be there. A lot of good speakers, and interesting break out sessions. Of course, lots of people there, and we enjoyed meeting old friends as well as getting to know many new people who came along to our stall to talk about issues around asylum seekers, and also refugees, general migrant issues, and visa problems. We gave a lot of literature out, and many promised they were going to join us, that didn't do so on the day, so we look forward to hearing from our new members. The Fairtrade Divine Chocolate bar was the subject of some competition in the quiz (see above). I have just picked out parts of the day that are relevant to LD4SOS.
Vince Cable spoke about immigration issues. He acknowledged that there were very difficult issues, but it was a fact that in our modern world, people moved around.
The economic impact is that the present visa system is really messing people around who want to come and work here, and are very much needed. Students are being treated as being part of the problem, where they are actually part of our solutions. He went on to say that he was very supportive of what Sarah Teather had to say in that morning's Guardian article. Also that whilst we are not a party of unlimited immigration, we are very different from the Tories.
One of the questions raised was about the levelling out of tourists to the UK from China, whereas Germany and France had seen an increase, and this was causing problems in our tourist industry. Vince acknowledged that when coming to Western Europe our unfriendly problems with delays and fees was just too much hassle for tourists such as the Chinese, so they went elsewhere, the result hitting our shops and businesses.
The breakout session on the media was led by Evan Harris, speaking from The Hacked Off Campaign . I asked what could be done about the way that the media was getting away with peddling not just myths and part truths, but actually telling lies on issues around migrants and asylum seekers. He replied that the present system was totally inadequate. Apparently only a person affected by a lie was able to make a formal complaint, not anyone on their behalf. So the Refugee Council, for instance, could not make a complaint about an inaccurate story about a migrant, but the migrant themselves was highly unlikely to be in a position to be able to make a complaint themselves.
On a session 'Role of power and voice in driving inequality' I raised the point that the proposed changes in Legal Aid are going to mean that those who need someone to speak up for them - including those in detention centres and other migrants in desperate need of a voice will no longer be able to have an advocate. No voice, no power, inequality deepens.
Quiz - how much do you know about asylum in the UK?
This was the quiz handed out to peopleattending the Social Liberal Forum Conference in July in Manchester. See how YOU can do with the answers. The winner was Gareth Epps, who got all the questions right. The answers are on the next posting. From the replies received, there is a lot more information needed out there !
Download the quiz
No cheating, please!
download the answers
The end of UKBA
Following criticism from many quarters including the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee, a coalition of asylum campaign groups, Julian Huppert MP, other MPs, and ourselves - Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary - we are pleased that the Home Secretary has agreed to disband UKBA and take direct responsibility for immigration and asylum matters.
Julian Huppert MP has described the decision as "long overdue".
"The UKBA's atrocious performance has been allowed to go on for far too long", he said. "For years we have been given incorrect figures on asylum cases and people are waiting up to 10 years for their cases to be heard."
The inefficiency of UKBA is legendary and we view this move with cautious optimism. We hope that the backlog of undecided cases will now be cleared, that there will be an exit record of those on temporary visas and that the Home Office will improve the training of all asylum case owners so that fewer wrong decisions will be made in future. As the Government works towards the ending of indefinite detention of asylum seekers it is encouraging that we shall no longer have to deal with an agency, which has shown itself to be inefficient, and not fit for purpose. We hope that the Home Office will show humanity and fairness to those seeking sanctuary in our country, as well as efficiency in its decision making and treatment of asylum seekers and other immigrants with dignity.
Whatever replaces UKBA will be directly accountable to a government minister, and Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary will be closely checking the way the replacement is monitored by parliament.
More: Julian Huppert MP writes about the end of UKBA in an article on Lib Dem Voice
Research reveals "Shocking" treatment of pregant women by UKBA
LD4SOS has welcomed a report launched by a cross party group of MPs including Lib Dem MP and former Children's Minister Sarah Teather. The report by the Refugee Council and Maternity Action report details how researchers found that the UK Border Agency is endangering the health of pregnant asylum seeking women and their babies by moving them to accommodation around the country, removing them from essential healthcare and leading to isolation.
Launching the report, Sarah Teather said "No pregnant woman or baby should have their health placed at risk because of their immigration status. The government surely agrees that the health of pregnant women and newborn babies is a priority. Many of these recommendations could be easily implemented within the current asylum system to ensure that maternity really does matter for every woman."
A spokesperson for LD4SOS said "These are shocking revelations, and we are glad it has been brought together and is going to be investigated."
Sarah Teather has said she will be referring to the research in her debate on Wednesday 27th February on Children and families in the asylum system in Westminster Hall. Watch out for reports of the debate!
You can read more about the report, and download it from the Refugee Council website
MPs to investigate Asylum Issues
At last - the House of Commons' Home Affairs Select Committee has launched an investigation into Asylum issues and LD4SOS will be putting evidence to the committee on this.
Speaking at a meeting at the Liberal Democrats' conference in Brighton in March, Julian Huppert MP said there was widespread concern about how the UK Border Agency was dealing with people seeking asylum and said he hoped many people would contribute evidence to the inquiry.
Please get in touch with us as soon as possible with any issues you want us to include, and let others know to get their evidence together. There is not a lot of time as the deadline is April 15th. This is a great opportunity to get Parliament to look at the issue, and come out with some good strong recommendations.
You can email Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary at info @ ld4sos.org.uk
More information on the inquiry is available from the Parliament website
UKBA reinstates ban on use of force on children and pregnant women
Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary have welcomed reports that the Border Agency has backed down on the use of force on children and pregnant women it seeks to remove from the UK, and has reinstated a policy on its website which says that force must not be used against pregnant women and children except to prevent harm.
Nick Clegg "We are proud of having ended child detention"
In an article in the Guardian Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says "We have ended child detention as it existed under Labour and as we said we would in opposition. We always argued that the immigration system would still need to deal with both exceptional cases and border cases. And the contrast between the new system and what existed just two years ago could not be starker.
"Under Labour, thousands of innocent children were locked up, often for weeks at a time. It was Citizens UK's tireless campaigning that made this an issue of public concern and then held the government's feet to the fire to end this barbaric practice and reach a solution acceptable to the communities most affected. Working together, we succeeded."
Citizens UK have estimated that by the end of October there are 2,200 children who have kept their freedom but would have been detained under the old system.
Guardian article, 29th October 2012 ("Comment is free - response")
Brighton September 2012 - Conference Report
Sunday morning of September's Lib Dem conference had a moving and amazing presentation and big thank you to the Lib Dems from Citizens UK, for ending the detention of children of asylum seekers.
The next day the newly formed Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary , along with Citizens UK, met in a nearby Church Hall. Those who had been, and were going through, the asylum process in the UK and were connected with both Citizens UK and Movement for Justice had come down to tell their stories. There to listen were members of the House of Lords, MPs, MEP researchers, Councillors, and other Lib Dem members. The stories were moving and it was difficult to imagine how the people we were listening to had been through terrible traumas in the country they had fled from, seeking sanctuary here, and also how some had been treated by our asylum system here in the UK.
At the fringe meeting to launch Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary, with Julian Huppert giving us a great opening speech. Unlike most fringe meetings we spent most of the time with contributions from everyone present, and the opportunity for those who did not speak to write their concerns on papers collected at the end of the meeting. Also unlike most fringe meetings we came up with an action list of what we planned to do about so many of the issues raised.
This organisation is not going to be just a talking shop, it started with a big listening exercise, and is moving onto an action exercise. There will be opportunities for many different skills, time commitment, and commitment. We want to hear from those who have experience of working with and for asylum seekers and refugees and those who want to learn more about the possibilities for change in the current system. Please click "contact us" on the left to get in touch.
See the Citizen's UK presentation (with thanks to Lib Dem Voice)
WE BELIEVE in standing up for those who seek sanctuary in our country. Asylum seekers should be treated with compassion, humanity and dignity.
WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT the way that the present system is working with unfair deportations & removals; dawn raids; detention centre atrocities; returns to unsafe countries; unlimited detention; insecure asylum housing, and lack of support for failed asylum seekers who cannot return to their own countries.
WE AIM TO co-ordinate work already being done, share ideas and experiences; be a point of reference for decision makers; and work to formulate new policy.
OUR VALUES are embedded in the preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution. Our policies, and how they are carried out need to reflect this.
CONTACT US by email to info @ ld4sos.org.uk or by using the 'contact us' link on the left to find out how you can be involved