Cardinal Vincent Nichols has condemned the Government’s hard treatment of asylum seekers as a “shame on our country”.
“If you’re here for 10 years and you can’t have a residence, you can’t study, you can’t work, you have no income, it’s as if you are being told you are a ‘non-person’, and it’s that darkness that we have listened to this afternoon,” the cardinal told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, while he paid a visit to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
“I can think of no other word than to say it is a shame on our country,” he added.
Cardinal Nichols was visibly moved by what he heard after spending time listening to the stories of those accompanied by the Jesuit Refugee Service UK.
“I think being in this Jesuit Refugee [Service] Centre, its like just having a tiny light that allows you to see into the deep darkness of people’s lives who are here in this kind of twilight world, and what we’ve heard this afternoon is how deep that darkness is. And in a way how deliberately that darkness is created, in a deeply mistaken sense that treating people this badly will prevent others seeking sanctuary in this country,” he said.
Speaking afterwards about his visit, in his own podcast reflection, Cardinal Nichols added: “I heard heart-rending, terrible stories of the way some people have been treated…we seem to have a system in place that obviously has to deal with some very difficult cases, some hard cases, but it seems to deal with all cases in a very hard manner. And it can’t be right, it cannot be right, that a person is left in this limbo, this no-man’s land, for 10 or more years in a country as sophisticated and as affluent as ours.”
Picture: Cardinal Nichols visits the Jesuit Refugee Service centre in East London to hear the stories of those seeking sanctuary in the UK. (Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk).