Justin Welby calls on the government to set 10-year strategies for tackling human trafficking and for an international collaboration to solve the refugee crises.
The draft law states that anyone who enters the UK illegally would not be able to ask for asylum and would be sent back to their home nation or a third-party country such as Rwanda.
“We must control our borders. We must stop the boats. We must have limits to those coming because we cannot take everyone”, wrote Welby in The Times..
But “this Bill will do little to resolve the existing problems, and will exacerbate others, all while causing serious suffering to the most vulnerable. The primary purpose of the Lords is to improve legislation, not block it”, he added.
For the Archbishop, “as the Illegal Migration Bill enters committee stage in the Lords, everyone agrees the status quo position on asylum fails […] we need a new approach that loves mercy and does justice, to use words from scripture”.
That is why in his first amendment Welby proposed a ten-year strategy that requires the Home Secretary to collaborate internationally in addressing human trafficking.
The second amendment also calls for a ten-year strategy to address the global refugee crisis by working “in collaboration with signatories to the Refugee Convention or any other international agreement on the rights of refugees”.
Both amendments were tabled in partnership with Conservative and Labour peers.
The proposals were not debated on the first day of debate, but will be considered when the committee stage resumes on 5 June.
The Archbishop had already criticised the draft law during his speech in the Lords at the beginning of the month, and was widely criticised by Conservative politicians and commentators for offering no alternative plan to the government’s proposal.
But writing in The Times, after warning that climate change will increase “up to tenfold” the number of refugees, he stressed that “the best long-term way to address this crisis is to support the infrastructure and development of their own states”.
Welby pointed out that the government should spend its aid budget in countries that need it, because “that will provide better value for money than constructing a vast detention state or giving £120 million to Rwanda not to house a single refugee to date”.
In addition to the amendments made by the Archbishop, bishops are supporting amendments addressing modern slavery, sexual exploitation, protection for children and pregnant women, and asylum seekers' right to work.
“Bishops will not abandon our duty to point out when governments propose legislation that is impractical or immoral. We will not abandon the most vulnerable people that Jesus Christ specifically calls us to love”, concluded Welby.