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Socialist Labour MPs call for government to safeguard migrants through pandemic

THE government has failed to take “decisive action” to support migrants despite many risking their health as key workers, socialist Labour MPs have charged. 
 
In a letter to the Home Office, four MPs from the Socialist Campaign Group called on the government to take urgent steps to safeguard and protect the health of migrants during and after the coronavirus crisis. 
 
It follows multiple warnings from campaigners that immigration enforcement is still being prioritised over public health. 
 
The letter, penned by Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana, Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe and Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, calls for a number of measures including the closure of detention centres. 
 
Although hundreds of detainees have been released in recent weeks, detention centres remain open, with officials even moving in new people. 
 
This is despite a number of centres already having confirmed and suspected cases of Covid-19. 
 
The MPs also called for immigration healthcare surcharges to be scrapped, condemning the financial barrier as “inhumane,” as well as ending “no recourse to public funds” conditions which prevent migrants accessing benefits. 
 
Ms Ribeiro-Addy said: “It’s needlessly cruel to leave migrants in a position where they can’t meet their basic needs at the best of times.

“During a global pandemic it’s also a serious public-health issue.”
  
The MPs also called for all undocumented migrants to be given an amnesty and said NHS workers should be granted indefinite leave to remain. 
 
Recent government plans to extend visas for NHS workers was “not enough,” they added.
 
“Those fighting the virus for British residents, should have the same rights as British residents,” the letter reads. 

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