People in Yorkshire and the Humber are more likely than not to support offering sanctuary to asylum seekers, Migration Yorkshire poll reveals

People in Yorkshire are more than twice as likely to support offering sanctuary in the UK to those seeking refugee status than disagree with the idea, new polling has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 people in the region, seen by The Yorkshire Post, shows that residents are broadly supportive of giving refugees and asylum seekers opportunities for integration and inclusion.

The poll carried out by Migration Yorkshire suggests that city centres may be especially welcoming and that young people in particular are supportive of including those who have sought sanctuary in the UK after fleeing armed conflicts or persecution.

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The poll carried out by Migration Yorkshire suggests that city centres may be especially welcoming and that young people in particular are supportive of including those who have sought sanctuary in the UK after fleeing armed conflicts or persecution. Pic of Leeds city centre.

It comes amid reports that Home Secretary Priti Patel is to hit back at people smugglers by helping asylum seekers fleeing war zones with safe passage to the UK.

The Sun reports that she will lay out plans next week to introduce “new legal pathways to try stem the tide of illegal crossings over the Channel”, in a move which will “rip up parts of the Modern Slavery Act” that are “exploited by criminals”.

Migration Yorkshire, which works with the region's councils on migration issues, carried out the polling late last year amid fears that Brexit and Covid-19 may mean the capacity of some communities to welcome new arrivals may be tested".

But Policy and Research Officer Kate James said: “The poll results show that Yorkshire people are more likely than not to support offering refugees safety and protection, and see their local communities as places of welcome.

"Although there is a range of views, we can see support for integration, including learning English and working, which is good for the individuals and good for society. With the Government considering new immigration policies, we hope this approach reflects the views of the people here to provide a Yorkshire welcome that benefits us all.”

Britain’s EU-divorce will not change the fact that the UK remains a signatory of the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees. Under the convention, signatories cannot return a refugee to a country where his or her freedom is under threat.

In December 2020, the latest period for which figures are available, 5,647 asylum seekers in Yorkshire and the Humber were getting so-called Section 95 support given to those whose claims have not yet been settled.

Of those, 1,079 were from Iraq, 670 from Iran, 394 from Albania, 357 from Pakistan and 249 from El Salvador. Nationwide, around half of all asylum seekers are granted refugee status.

When asked whether the UK should continue to offer protection to those seeking sanctuary as refugees, after the end of the Brexit transition period, 49 per cent of Yorkshire and Humber residents said they agreed and 25 per cent said they disagreed.

When asked to read an extract from a newspaper article about an asylum seeker spending Christmas in a hotel, 47 per cent of people say they feel sympathetic, compared with 37 per cent who do not..

There was support for family reunion, with 60 per cent of residents agreeing that lone child refugees whose journey has taken them to Europe should be allowed to join family in the UK.

But when asked about the most appropriate way to prevent asylum seekers crossing the English Channel, residents are more likely to favour border security measures (50 per cent) than creating alternative safe, legal routes for people to come to the UK to seek asylum (40 per cent).

There was support for asylum seekers being given the opportunity to learn English while waiting for the outcome of their asylum claim, with 62 per cent responding positively to this.

And people are more likely to think Yorkshire and Humber is welcoming to refugees and people seeking asylum (46 per cent), than not welcoming (33 per cent).