Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:08 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union 7:08 pm, 30th January 2017

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. We hope he rescinds the measure.

I want to make three very quick points, the first of which is that however much the Foreign Secretary may seek to argue that this is not a ban on Muslims, our fellow Muslim citizens and our constituents, and my hon. Friend Naz Shah and I, know that it is. Why do we know that it is? We know because Donald Trump said during the course of his election campaign that that is what he wanted to do. The fact is that people listen to that. They see the order. They know he is talking about them. Imagine the conversations in families when children say to their parents: “What is it about us that means that country doesn’t want us?” What message does that send to the next generation? Frankly, the message it sends is offensive, divisive and misguided.

Secondly, I agree absolutely with the point made by Crispin Blunt that the order will not help us or anyone else in the fight against the brutal ideology of Daesh. Instead, it will act as a recruiting sergeant for Daesh. I simply observe that our security is too important to be damaged in that way when populism triumphs over reason, as has happened in this case. Our best defence against the lethal obscurantism of Daesh is to cleave ever more strongly to the values that make us proud to be British.

My final point is about the international rules-based system. Why did we create these institutions after the end of the second world war, including the United Nations? We knew that out of the ashes of that terrible conflict, we needed to work together to observe and uphold certain principles to enable humanity to thrive in the world we were seeking to create. Article 3 of the refugee convention states:

“The Contracting States shall apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin”,

and the truth is that the order offends against article 3 of that convention. We have other worries—the Paris climate agreement and the Iran deal—but they are all expressions of the international rules-based system that we have fought so hard to create and sustain.

I conclude by saying this: if we are going to deal with the challenges we face as a world as this century unfolds, we must seek and strive to bring people together and not to drive them apart. That, after all, is the very principle on which the United States of America, which we respect so much, was founded.