The Key Ideas

#55 Take remedial measures to protect refugees and asylum seekers

As a result of the hostile political environment and inhumane asylum process, many have been led to focus on refugees’ vulnerability at the expense of recognising resilience. We have the potential to learn from New Scots’ resilience, benefit from their experience, and profit from their skills—if we enable them to participate in society. While recognising refugee resilience and ability to contribute as New Scots is vital, this resilience is futile if we don’t work together to address structural and systems problems. Even the most resilient refugees require guidance and advocacy to negotiate systems; certain statutory services and rights—housing and benefits—are currently inaccessible to legitimate beneficiaries acting independently. There are already innovative approaches to tackling these issues in Scotland, including setting up ‘mini-public’ style consultation with refugees based on feedback, learning from the service, and wider policy issues. One basic policy might be ensuring asylum seekers are given a home up to the standard we'd expect of any Scottish citizen—a task for the new National Housing Company. Police Scotland could also refuse to cooperate with UK border agency 'dawn raids' on refugees and asylum seekers. Central to this is learning from each other: not only in adapting to best serve New Scots, but to enable New Scots to best integrate into Scottish society. These actions would at least be a sign that Scotland has a more inclusive and welcoming approach to some of the world's most vulnerable people.