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Asylum seekers in Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire County Council aims to promote better public understanding of asylum seekers. Here we have some key questions and answers for people to understand why Asylum seekers are placed in the area and what their impact is.

Why has this area chosen to host Asylum seekers?

Where asylum seekers are allocated is a decision taken by central government. we have no control over that policy.

Cambridgeshire, like all areas of the country, should play a fair and balanced role in resettling asylum seekers/refugees within the community and in liaison with other councils in the area.

Where have the asylum seekers come from?

Asylum seekers come from all around the world and are often from countries affected most severely by war and political instability.

What is the difference between an Asylum seeker and a Refugee?

An asylum seeker is someone seeking international protection from dangers in his or her home country, but whose claim for refugee status hasn’t been determined legally.

Asylum seekers must apply for protection in the country of destination meaning they must arrive at or cross a border in order to apply.

Then, they must be able to prove to authorities there that they meet the criteria to be covered by refugee protections. Not every asylum seeker will be recognised as a refugee.

A refugee (Amnesty International website) is a person who has fled their country of origin and is unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

An official entity such as a government or the United Nations Refugee Agency determines whether a person seeking international protection meets the definition of a refugee, based on well-founded fear.

Those who obtain refugee status (International Rescue Committee website) are given protections under international laws and conventions and lifesaving support from aid agencies, including the International Rescue Committee.

Are Asylum seekers acting illegally?

It is important to remember that it is not illegal to seek asylum in the UK. The 1951 Refugee Convention, of which the UK is a signatory, stipulates that people can seek asylum in any country they choose. Once people arrive in the UK, they’ll go through a rigorous process during which their asylum cases are assessed before being allowed to remain.

Why aren't asylum seekers working?

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and partners will work closely behind the scenes to support government agencies identify illegal working. Since 2002, only those with full refugee status, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to Remain have been allowed to enter employment.

What do asylum seekers live on? Is it costing us in local taxes?

We are not paying any financial support to asylum seekers with all support coming from central government. Almost all asylum seekers are not allowed to work and are forced to rely on state support – this can be as little as £5 a day to live on. According to research carried out by the Refugee Council most asylum seekers do not know about welfare benefits before they arrive and have no expectation that they would receive financial support.

Are the asylum seekers getting beneficial treatment for healthcare?

Asylum seekers have the same rights as any UK citizen to access health care and children's education. Migrants, including refugees, make an enormous contribution to the NHS, which relies heavily on foreign labour.

What positive benefits does this country get from immigration?

Refugees make a huge contribution to the UK once they can access work and contribute through taxes, job creation and supporting the local economy through new businesses. Asylum-seeking children contribute very positively to schools across the country. This in turn enables more successful integration of families into local communities.