A City of Sanctuary (cross party)
Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Turner re-joined the meeting at the start of the debate on this motion.
Councillor Djafari-Marbini, seconded by Councillor Wolff, and supported by Councillor Garden, proposed the submitted cross-party motion as set out in the agenda and briefing note.
After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.
Council resolved to adopt the following motion:
This Council reaffirms its commitment to being a City of Sanctuary. We uphold the principles of dignity and respect for all, welcome the paper “Oxford’s Commitment to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants” and ask the Leader of the Council to sign it on the Council’s behalf.
This is an age of growing xenophobia with the globalisation of the far right from Trump to Orban. Here, Hostile Environment policies have blurred the distinction between service provision and immigration enforcement with the most vulnerable having no recourse to public funds (NRPF), and being left destitute.
This Council also commits to:
1. Flying the “City of Sanctuary” flag on World Refugee Day.
2. Encouraging our residents to exercise their existing rights in conjunction with organisations such as Asylum Welcome, Refugee Resource, Sanctuary Hosting and our advice centres, ensuring routine access to interpreters and immigration advice.
3. Working with existing community networks, such as the Syrian Sisters and African Families in the UK to place lived experiences at the centre of service provision.
4. Encouraging councillors to sign up to a “place of safety” pledge. Both our Oxford MPs have signed the “MPs not border guards” pledge. We are proud to have no embedded UK Visa and Immigration staff in our frontline services. The “place of safety pledge” will communicate our commitment to not being part of immigration enforcement, ensuring all are able to seek confidential advice and representation without fear.
5. Encourage the Council’s partners to not be part of the ‘Hostile Environment’ by for example providing data to the Home Office to be used for detention and deportation.
6. Working towards all residents being able to access voluntary and statutory services to meet their basic healthcare, housing, and income needs. The Council has successfully secured funding to further support vulnerable groups by investigating rogue landlords; and helping European Economic Area migrant rough sleepers access accommodation and support services.
7. Improving access to employment. We have funded four work-based English as a Second Language courses helping migrants to access employment opportunities. We will continue this via implementation of the equalities action plan. This committed the Council to improving understanding of the career paths available, and focused advice for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates. Coordinated action with higher education colleges can ensure all our residents benefit equally from the available opportunities.
And asks the Leader of the Council to write to the Home Secretary asking the government to:
1. Implement the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into detention, end the shameful practice of “indefinite detention” and work towards the closure of all detention centres.
2. Honour its commitment to the “Dubs amendment”; Britain will provide sanctuary to 10,000 child refugees over the next ten years (3-5 per local authority).
3. End NRPF policies and reverse attacks on access to the NHS.
4. Extend the equal right to vote to all UK residents, regardless of citizenship and grant asylum seekers the right to take paid work while their application is being determined.
Publication date: 09/08/2019
Date of decision: 22/07/2019
Decided at meeting: 22/07/2019 - Council