Savan Qadir, activist, research assistant, and former asylum seeker, writes about why Scottish independence can help give refugees and asylum seekers a sense of belonging ...

SCOTTISH society has some unique perspectives when it comes to diversity, inclusiveness, and welcoming people from all around the world - making no distinction between white or minority ethnic refugees and asylum seekers. 

The uniqueness doesn’t just stop societally. It is also at the heart of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. For example, in Scotland the Franchise Bill enables refugees and those who have leave to remain to vote and participate in shaping the Scottish Parliament by choosing their representatives. 

Political participation extends beyond voting too. Just recently in the 2022 local council elections, Roza Salih became the first refugee to be elected to become a Glasgow City Councillor. 

Kenmure Street saw the people of Glasgow block an  Immigration Enforcement van from taking two men away

This isn’t just coincidence, this a reflection of the values that Scottish society hold. Values such as inclusiveness, treating people like human beings regardless of their immigration status, race, gender, or religion. 

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Despite all the efforts that the Scottish Government are taking, there are many challenges that refugees and asylum seekers are facing in Scotland. These include the detention of asylum seekers in hotels for months, limited financial support provided by the UK Government, and having no right to work. 

Scotland’s limited power over the immigration system undermines the entirety of the values the Scottish people hold dear. 

The immigration system is a reserved matter - therefore even if the Scottish Government tries its best to improve the lives of the New Scots living in Scotland, they will have little to no impact on their lives. 

Scottish independence cannot come soon enough for so many refugees and asylum seekers. As the UK Government passed the anti-refugee bill, the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments have both both refused to provide consent for this cruel and inhuman bill. Nevertheless, the two countries consent went ignored. 

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I believe as someone who has experienced the UK’s immigration system, Scottish independence means not just becoming an independent country: but giving refugees and asylum seekers independence. Independent from the strains holding them back they can become a part of society and rebuild their lives, while having a sense of belonging. 

Refugees and asylum seekers are incredibly resourceful and have so much to contribute to society. I believe in an independent Scotland. Scotland will open the doors and will fix the broken immigration system in a way that reflects Scottish values - instead of those values refused by Scottish society and the Scottish Government.

Savan Qadir is a Kilmarnock based journalist and activist, former asylum seeker, and current project manager at Refugees for Justice. Keep up with him at @savanQadir on Twitter