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What will independence mean for asylum policy in Scotland?

As a nation playing a socially responsible role in the world, an independent Scotland will continue to provide a place of safety for those seeking asylum. Asylum is granted to those fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country and in need of international protection.

Asylum is a separate issue from immigration. The current Scottish Government proposes that an independent Scotland will put in place an independent asylum agency. It will handle asylum applications from the initial submission, throughout the assessment process and make the decision on whether to grant refugee status to an individual.

The opportunity of independence will also allow Scotland to adopt a new humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees in line with our values and commitment to upholding internationally recognised human rights.

The new powers Scotland will gain at independence around equal opportunities, including race equality and anti-discrimination will be important in supporting Scotland’s ambition to be a progressive, welcoming and inclusive state.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What makes asylum seekers different from other migrants that come to Scotland?

Migrants apply for visas to come to Scotland to work, study or to join family members here. They make a decision to move to Scotland and have to show that they have sufficient resources to support themselves and their family while they are here.

Asylum seekers are fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country. They often arrive in the country in which they claim asylum by chance and with very little forethought or preparation. Scotland will play a responsible role as a good global citizen, supporting vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland attract more asylum seekers than the rest of the UK?

There is no reason why this would be the case. Scotland will play a responsible role as a good global citizen, supporting vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

There is no empirical evidence to suggest that the reception conditions provided for asylum seekers constitute a “pull factor” or an incentive to seek protection in a particular country.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will failed asylum seekers be detained?

Some people will fail any asylum process and there need to be arrangements in place to deal with those people with fairness and compassion. There is therefore no need to detain people just because their claim has been unsuccessful and they are awaiting removal. Detention by default, along with the practice of dawn raids, would not form part of the current Scottish Government’s proposed approach to asylum.

Failed asylum seekers who represent a danger to the public need to be accommodated securely whilst steps are taken to remove them, but this should be addressed in other ways. Prison will be a legitimate alternative in some, though very few, cases – for example where a criminal offence has been committed.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will failed asylum seekers be forcibly removed?

Our intention is to encourage voluntary return for failed asylum seekers wherever possible. However, we accept that there will be a need for some forced removal. Such operations will be undertaken in a sensitive and compassionate manner. There will be an end to dawn raids and a commitment not to forcibly remove vulnerable asylum seekers, such as young children or heavily pregnant women.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.