The National:

THE UK Government announced its New Plan for Immigration in March of this year. To put it plainly, the proposals presented represent the biggest threat to refugee rights in the UK for decades.

These proposals are a fundamental ripping up of the internationally agreed basis which underpins the human right to seek asylum.

We sent a letter to Boris Johnson, in his capacity as Minister of the Union and Prime Minister, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack on Monday.

The Scottish Refugee Council was joined by almost 80 charities, community and belief groups in telling the UK Government that these proposals are not welcome here. Signatories of the letter include the Church of Scotland, STUC, Shelter and Poverty Alliance.

READ MORE: Former refugee and SNP candidate slams Tory asylum plans

Our letter speaks with a united voice from Scotland, which says loud and clear that refugees are welcome here. These cruel and dangerous proposals are not in our name.

We were shocked by these proposals. The New Plan proposes to link the right to seek asylum to the way in which people have travelled to reach the UK. We are deeply worried that this would take away the right to claim asylum from people who arrive in the UK independently after life-or-death decisions and often dangerous journeys. This includes the majority of people fleeing terror, war and persecution.

We of course would welcome the introduction of more safe and official routes for people to seek protection in the UK, such as significantly expanding resettlement places, asylum visas for people in France to join family members in the UK and not be forced to make a perilous journey across the Channel. But the UK Government plans are not ambitious and their plans for resettlement focus worryingly on “ability to integrate”.

The reality for the vast majority of people in life-or-death situations is that they will attempt to reach safety in whichever way is possible.

The National: Parts of Napier Barracks were deemed unfit to live in by inspectors, but the Home Office housed asylum seekers thereParts of Napier Barracks were deemed unfit to live in by inspectors, but the Home Office housed asylum seekers there

The New Plan will widen the two-tier divide by routing those deemed inadmissible into holding centres, despite the military barracks debacle. We fear these centres will be isolated and separated from communities in the UK. For those who are institutionalised, constant anxiety of removal awaits with the only contingent respite, a grant of short-leave with No Recourse to Public Funds, and no prospect to rebuild one’s life in the UK or be reunited with family members.

These plans simply don’t reflect the will of the Scottish people, who want a system that reflects the compassion, decency and common sense they believe in. Indeed, recent polling shows that 74% of people in Scotland believe it is important to make refugees feel welcome here and two-thirds of people believe Scotland should welcome the same number or more refugees than it currently does.

READ MORE: Home Office asylum plans 'directly intrude' on devolved powers, campaigners say

The consultation period on these proposals falls precisely within the purdah period for the devolved administrations ahead of elections, including the Scottish Government. This essentially silences several voices from Scotland and ensures they cannot have their say on these ill-judged and inhumane proposals. Critically, no real attempt is made to hear from those who are experiencing the current UK asylum system.

But we agree with Priti Patel on one thing. The UK’s asylum system is not working. But this isn’t because of overwhelming numbers. The UK receives a tiny proportion of the world’s displaced people, and fewer than its European counterparts.

The UK’s asylum system is failing because of decades of mismanagement in the hands of the Home Office.

As we look to the Scottish elections, we were really pleased to see solidarity with refugees and people seeking asylum in the majority of the manifestos of Scotland’s larger parties. Whatever the result of the election, that solidarity will be needed more than ever in the face of a deeply hostile UK Government.