Dozens of pro-migrant demonstrators have accused the Government of “dehumanising and vilifying” asylum seekers at a protest outside the Home Office.
The demonstration on Tuesday evening, organised by campaign group Stand Up To Racism, demanded that the right of safe passage be given to “desperate” migrants making the crossing between England and France.
Protesters chanted “no-one is illegal” and said that migrants had been “scapegoated” by the Government.
One protester, who did not wish to be named but described himself as a highly skilled migrant worker, said that migrants should not be seen as a “burden” on the UK.
“I’m here today to support this group because I hope that we can ease the policy for migrants,” he said.
“We are human beings and we’re here to boost the economy.
“We’re not going to be a burden on this country.”
It comes as numbers of people attempting to cross the English Channel to seek asylum have surged in recent months despite Home Secretary Priti Patel’s vow to make the crossing “completely unviable”.
Analysis by the PA news agency shows that more than 5,000 migrants have made the perilous crossing in small boats so far in 2020.
Last week, a 16-year-old Sudanese migrant was found dead on a beach near Calais after his makeshift vessel capsized.
Ms Patel said the death was “an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life”.
The protest is the second outside the Home Office in three days, after dozens of campaigners gathered on Sunday to demand the closure of a UK detention centre.
Protesters say that detainees at the Brook House immigration removal centre, near Gatwick Airport, are on hunger strike ahead of impending deportations.
Stand Up To Racism says that the Government should have a “humanitarian response” and welcome those “whose lives have already been devastated”.
In a statement, the group said: “People so desperate to get to a place of safety have risked their lives this year to cross the busiest and one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world in tiny boats and children’s dinghies.
“This Government should have a humanitarian response and welcome people whose lives have already been devastated by war, environmental degradation and poverty.
“Undocumented refugees have an international right to claim asylum, but this Government is denying them this right.
“The Government of Boris Johnson is committing a crime of dehumanising and vilifying people.
“They have the potential to greatly enhance this country through their work and the contribution they can make to our society.
“Many of them already have family ties here.
“We demand that refugees be guaranteed safe passage to the UK if they wish to claim asylum here.”