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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Asylum seekers plan draws ‘false distinction’ between groups and risks breaking international law, says IPPR

Think tank warns Home Office proposals risk putting more migrants at risk of exploitation and abuse, and calls for ‘humanitarian visa’ alternative

The Institute for Public Policy Research think tank has responded to the government's announcement of a new two-tier system of rights for asylum seekers, with their claims assessed based on how they arrive in the UK.

Marley Morris, associate director of IPPR who heads the think tank’s work on migration, said:

“These proposals draw a false distinction between people who make spontaneous asylum applications in the UK and those entering on to resettlement schemes.

“The home secretary has said she wants to learn the lessons of Windrush and deliver a compassionate immigration system that puts people first. Yet the reforms proposed today risk marginalising the people most in need of protection.

“Often there is simply no way for people to become a refugee through regular means. To create a separate refugee route with fewer rights for people who enter the UK via Calais will simply force them into more vulnerable situations, undermine their opportunities for integration, and further complicate an already labyrinthine system.

“There is also a risk that the proposals break international law - in particular Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that parties "shall not impose penalties" on refugees on account of their illegal entry or presence, provided they have good cause and present themselves to the authorities without delay.

“It is positive that the government plans to continue its resettlement programme. But we should be more ambitious and look towards alternative safe and legal routes for asylum, in order to stop the channel crossings and save lives.

“In particular, humanitarian visas could provide a safe way for people to enter the UK to claim asylum, reducing the need for people to make dangerous journeys across the Channel.”


Marley Morris, IPPR associate director and Amreen Qureshi, IPPR researcher are available for interview 


David Wastell, Head of News and Communications: 07921 403651 [email protected] 

Robin Harvey, Digital and Media Officer:07779 204798 [email protected] 


  1. IPPR’s proposals for reforming the ‘hostile environment’ were published in February and can be read at:

IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national