A letter from 10 city leaders of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim congregations, criticises the Home Secretary’s proposals for “fixing a broken immigration system”.
She aims to deter “illegal entry” to the UK and increase deportations of people “with no right to be here”.
The letter is co-signed by Bishop of Sheffield Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, Ven Rev Malcolm Chamberlain, Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham, Dr Mike Fitter, Order of Amida Buddha, Abdool Gooljar, president of the Islamic Society of Britain South Yorkshire, Imam Sheikh M Ismail, Rev Gareth Jones, Inter-Faith Adviser, Sheffield Methodist District, Dr Vithal Patel, president of the Sheffield and District Hindu Samaj, Howard Saffer, chair of the Sheffield & District Reform Jewish Congregation, Shahida Siddique, CEO Faithstar and Diverse City Development Trust, and Dr Frada Wilesnki, United Synagogue of Sheffield.
They say: “The great majority of the world’s refugees are in third world countries. We welcome your endorsement of the well-managed schemes under which 25,000 people from refugee camps in those countries have come to the UK between 2015 and 2019. Some of them are now happily settled in South Yorkshire.
“Like you, we would like to see such schemes developed further. But we do not consider that those who do not come to the UK through ‘safe and legal routes’ should automatically be branded as ‘illegal’ and penalised.
“Nor do we agree with your proposal that these asylum seekers should be denied any prospect of obtaining ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK, regardless of any persecution they may have suffered and any links they may have with this country.
"The suggestion that such asylum seekers should be returned to another safe country or to their country of origin seems to us both inhumane and impractical.”
They object to proposals to remove asylum seekers while their claim or appeal is pending.
It concludes: “In your Plan, you ‘take pride in fulfilling our moral responsibility to support refugees fleeing peril around the world’. The great religions of the world would endorse this ‘moral responsibility’.
"However, with some sadness, we have to say that in our view your Plan falls far short of these high ideals.”