Catholic Bishops from Scotland and England & Wales have encouraged the UK Government to consider amendments to the Immigration Bill currently before parliament, saying it will ‘drastically alter opportunities’ for migrants.
In a strongly worded joint statement sent to opposition party leaders at Westminster, the bishops call for a time limit on detention, together with ‘a significant permanent reduction in the use of detention [that] will allow us to properly protect people’s health and human dignity’.
They also propose, that the minimum income threshold for family visas should be reduced and for repeal of the offence of illegal working, since ‘fear of prosecution currently deters people from escaping abusive employment practices or presenting themselves to the police’.
The statement also calls for changes to the clergy visa system. Scotland’s lead Bishop for migrants and refugees, Bishop William Nolan, said: “Most Catholic dioceses previously used Tier 5 Religious Worker visas for priests to come here on essential supply placements, allowing Catholics to continue attending Mass, the new Tier 2 visas have more than doubled the costs incurred by parishes arranging supply cover.
“Furthermore, seminaries that conduct formation in English are not necessarily recognised by the Home Office as meeting the English language requirement under the Tier 2 route, meaning that many priests who have been educated to post-graduate level in English are nevertheless required to take a language test with extra logistical and cost implications.”
Bishop Nolan concluded: “We strongly urge the Government to accept amendments addressing these important issues and hope that MPs from all parties will take this opportunity to help create a more just and humane immigration system.”
Picture: Archive photo, dated 18th December 2019, shows campaigners for migrants rights gathering outside the Home Office department on International Migrants Day to protest in solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/PA).