Revd Clare Downing said:

“Church leaders have been criticised for joining the debate about asylum and immigration plans. But in the face of unfair and cruel proposals, to fail to speak out would be a denial of our gospel calling. The Biblical mandate is that righteous nations ‘welcome the stranger’.

“While recognising the many complexities involved in setting immigration policy amid the challenges of the contemporary world, we are clear that every individual, whatever their status, should be treated by the state with humanity, dignity, respect and fairness.

“To criminalise and discriminate against those asylum seekers who currently have little choice but to arrive in the UK through ‘irregular routes’, when the majority have a legitimate basis for their asylum claim, is a disgraceful and dishonourable policy.

“To export some of those seeking asylum to Rwanda is a denial of the UK’s responsibilities and of the rights and dignity of refugees. Questions have rightly been raised about Rwanda’s record on human rights and the treatment of LGBT people in particular.