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Hollie Stone

The Illegal Migration Bill will eliminate support for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, including sex trafficking. Azalea knows that all survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking are not criminals, and they are not illegal.

The act of trafficking and enslaving another person – that is criminal and illegal. Enduring and surviving sex trafficking is not.

The Illegal Migration Bill will cause enhanced suffering for survivors of sex trafficking, and so Azalea stands in direct opposition to its passing.


If the Bill is passed, what would the impact look like for Azalea guests?

*Zara’s experience

Zara was sex trafficked as a teenager from an African country, to the UK. She was told by traffickers that she would have a well-paid cleaning job in the UK. When she arrived in the UK, her documents were removed by the traffickers and she was left in a hotel to be raped continually. When Zara finally managed to escape, she hid. She was terrified that the traffickers or the police would find her. She began sleeping on the streets and doing cash in hand jobs, being continually approached by people wanting to sexually exploit and abuse her.

Many years later, she was referred to Tamar by a food bank service. The Tamar team met with Zara and explained to her about the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)**. She had never heard of it. She said she wasn’t sure she could receive help, because she is most likely here illegally due to how she was trafficked here, and she doesn’t have any documents or identification. The Tamar team explained that this most likely wouldn’t be an issue. She was worthy of support, she was a survivor of sex trafficking, and she deserved a safe life.

Within a couple of days, the NRM referral was made, Zara was assessed, and her case was deemed urgent as she was destitute. She was allocated a First Responder and her application was taken forward. She answered their questions and her answers were believed, with no demand for evidence or identification which she did not have. Fast forward a couple of months, Zara had been moved to a new, safe area in the UK and had a place she could call home. She was finally able to settle, not having to hide from her traffickers or anyone else. She is proud and hopeful again. The response Zara received was empathic, humane and dignified.

If the Illegal Migration Bill existed before Azalea met Zara…

The Illegal Migration Bill, if it becomes law, will prevent victims of sex trafficking like Zara from receiving support. Under the new rules, genuine victims of human trafficking arriving in small boats, or by any other “irregular” means, will not be allowed to enter the NRM.

Due to the uncertainty around her immigration status, she would not have been entered into the NRM. Zara would have been forced into indefinite exploitation and hiding. She would have had to remain underground, sleeping homeless, being approached by sexual predators, and being continually exploited. The Illegal Migration Bill 2023 puts a duty on the Home Secretary to remove everyone that arrived in the UK irregularly, including victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Thus, Zara would have been detained and likely deported if she was picked up by the authorities.


Only 6% of people that travelled across the channel in a small boat in 2022 claimed they were victims of modern slavery (or were referred as victims of modern slavery). 85% of the 6% of people arriving in small boats in 2022 who were identified as potential victims of modern slavery received positive reasonable grounds decisions. This means the Home Office decision-maker believes that a person is a victim of modern slavery. (Unseen)

It evidences that the system is not being abused by people ‘claiming’ to be trafficked, when they have not. People who are being trafficked and referred to the NRM are genuine survivors of human trafficking who require and deserve support and empathy, not inhumane dismissal, deportation and detention.

Without the ability to refer survivors of human trafficking to the NRM, the work of Tamar faces a huge obstacle. Women who are referred to our service and who have been internationally sex trafficked often do not have recourse to public funds, as their immigration status is uncertain. If the Illegal Migration Bill passes, the one avenue that can offer these people support will become null. These women will be left with no option but to remain in a place of suffering and at extreme risk of further exploitation.

Theresa May has spoken out against the bill:

“My fear with this illegal migration bill is that it will drive a coach and horses through the Modern Slavery Act, denying support to those who have been exploited and enslaved, and in doing so making it much harder to catch and stop the traffickers and slave drivers,”

We stand with Unseen UK, to ask you to write to your MP – today.

*Pseudonym used throughout

** The National Referral Mechanism is the UK Government’s framework for identifying, referring, supporting and protecting victim/survivorss of human trafficking and modern slavery.

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