Letter: Asylum overhaul

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's article "We shall be judged by them" (3 December) reminds us of the debate on asylum policy that we need to have in this country.

We are concerned about the proposed changes to how asylum-seekers are treated, as outlined in the White Paper on Immigration and Asylum. They do not adequately deal with the hundreds or people seeking asylum in Britain who are dependent on hand-outs from the voluntary sector and religious organisations because state support is inadequate.

This is not Victorian England. In the 1990s, no one should have to help asylum-seekers in such a paternalistic fashion.

As well as reconsidering the White Paper proposals, the whole philosophical underpinning of asylum policy needs a radical rethink. As part of this, the Government would do well to clarify what steps it is taking to counter the negative stereotyping of asylum-seekers that has been displayed by certain sections of the Press. The current spate of newspaper stories have strong resonances with those that surrounded the arrival of Jewish refugees fleeing from Russian and Nazi persecution throughout this century.

Britain will never just, multi racial society until these issues are tackled.



Jewish Council for Racial Equality

London W1