THOUSANDS OF asylum seekers will find themselves on the streets and starving in bitterly cold weather over the coming months. That is the only present from New Labour this winter for people fleeing war, persecution and torture.
This is just the cruellest effect of the new Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act which became law at the start of this month. Parliament's human rights committee even thought that many of the act's provisions could be 'degrading and inhuman'.
Under the new law, from 8 January most asylum seekers, unless they have children, will not be entitled to any support whatsoever while they await a decision on their application. The laws apply to anyone who claims asylum once in Britain, instead of at a port of entry. This involves almost two thirds of all asylum seekers.
People can be denied emergency shelter and food under the new laws. Other measures prevent many asylum seekers appealing against decisions to reject their claims.
In a particularly spiteful measure, the government has stopped giving people who it accepts cannot return to their own countries the legal right to stay here temporarily. This means that up to 15,000 people a year will be left with no entitlement to work, and no right to housing or benefits, even though the government accepts they cannot leave.