Rwanda Deportation Plan
Hostility to asylum seekers and refugees is “deeply immoral and completely contrary to the gospel of Christ”.
The foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
— Leviticus 19:34
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
— Hebrews 13:1-2
‘I was a stranger and you did not invite me in’… ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
— Matthew 25:43, 45
Throughout the whole of scripture one of the most consistent messages to God’s people is, “Do not mistreat those from other nations. Protect, defend and embrace those without parents and those who have lost their spouse and their security. Show compassion, practice hospitality, welcome the stranger, as if they were Christ.”
In recent days, the UK’s immigration policy has been actively working against this gospel imperative. While there have been moments of compassion and glimmers of hope (through specific safe routes for a number of Syrians, Afghans and Ukrainians) in general it has become harder for asylum seekers and refugees to enter the country and when here, their ability to live with freedom and dignity has been increasingly limited.
The government’s latest immigration plans, expressed in the recently adopted 'Nationality & Borders Bill', will see many of those fleeing war and persecution, and seeking sanctuary in the UK, criminalised and, in some cases, deported. Churches, alongside other faith groups and charities, wrote to the Prime Minister in February expressing our deep concerns, offering our help towards a more compassionate response, and inviting government representatives to meet with us to discuss the issues. The invitation was not accepted and instead we have started to see the practical consequences of these dishonourable and uncompassionate policies.
Most recently, the government’s determination to see asylum seekers deported to Rwanda has been headline news. Christians across the UK have been expressing their disgust of such a practice, with the leadership of the Church of England describing the move as “an immoral policy that shames Britain”. Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, shares their lament,
There is no question about it, the unjustifiable criminalisation and deportation of those who are already victims of war, persecution, trafficking and torture is deeply immoral and completely contrary to the gospel of Christ. Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, or any other country, without a fair hearing of their asylum claim in the UK, denies their human rights, and betrays our responsibility to the international community as together we respond to the growing refugee crisis. Baptist churches have always, and will always, stand alongside the poor and the vulnerable of the world, we will never abscond our responsibility to show compassion and hospitality to those in need, and we implore the government to abandon this approach.
The Home Office has attempted to justify the deportations as a deterrent, saying they will disempower organised crime gangs smuggling asylum seekers into the UK. They consistently assert that no one is suggesting alternative plans that would tackle the number of people crossing the channel in small boats. One such way, which has been suggested by numerous groups, is to increase the number of safe routes for asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, and set an annual target for the global UK resettlement scheme that would represent a fair contribution to our international commitments and obligations.
We ask all followers of Christ to pray that the UK government would abandon its deportation plans and commit to more just and compassionate immigration policies.
Baptists Together, Joint Public Issues Enabler
21 June 2022
Baptist Churches have a long history of supporting asylum seekers and refugees. Click here for further statements, stories and bible resources on the subject of the Refugee Crisis.
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