Summer is here. Westminster and Holyrood are both in recess and it will be six long weeks before hostilities officially resume.

But resume they certainly will.

Surprisingly perhaps, the first policy clash of the autumn could arise from the least recognised, yet perhaps most successful example of Holyrood’s divergence from Westminster systems – refugee integration.

The Kenmure Street siege in May gave Scots a tiny glimpse of the support systems – local, neighbourhood, voluntary and official – that have built up over two decades since Syrian refugees were first dispersed to Glasgow. Scotland’s largest city now has 4,500 asylum seekers – more than any other UK city – with a 50 per cent application success rate.

But that’s not what tends to grab the headlines. Last year a Sudanese asylum seeker stabbed several people in a Glasgow hotel, before being shot dead by police. Since then, Glasgow Council has refused to accept more asylum seekers unless the Home Office and private contractors Mears stop housing them in unsuitable hotel accommodation – a visible example of the human rights’ stand-offs that lie ahead.

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Scotland’s distinctive approach to refugee and asylum seeker integration can be traced to 2005 when a series of dawn raids by the Home Office prompted organised resistance by a group of friends at Drumchapel High School. Their successful campaign to free Agnesa Murselaj and her family created the award-winning Glasgow Girls campaign – in May, one of their number, Rosa Salih, narrowly failed to become an SNP MSP. The raids also spurred the creation of grassroots support networks. At first led by sympathetic Scots, the networks are now mostly run by former asylum seekers, including Pinar Aksu from the Maryhill Integration Network, who read the Kenmure Street agreement that released the two detainees, Sumit Sehdev and Lakhvir Singh, to a cheering crowd.

But what happened at Kenmure Street in May was not down to chance. Neighbours of the two men had surrounded (and one dived under) the Home Office van, giving time for networks to alert members and a supportive crowd to gather. That owed something to straightforward neighbourliness, something more to the memory of refugees like Soloman Rashid, deported from Dungavel to Iraq and later killed, and a great deal to the No Evictions Network, the Unity Centre, Positive Action for Refugees, Refuweegee, Glasgow Destitute Asylum Network and countless other networks who’ve been organising quietly across Glasgow for years. Reluctant to seek publicity that might jeopardise their effectiveness, these groups have proved adept at delivering food, shelter and legal support. So, whilst the identity of "Van Man" was known in Pollokshields, for example, locals have carefully kept his name out of all social media posts.

These networks also include dozens, maybe hundreds of research students and academics with useful degrees. And that stems from a moment back in 2014 when the Scottish Government decided to do something different with its devolved control over refugee management. It devised a "New Scots" policy where refugees and asylum seekers would be "supported to integrate into communities from day one of arrival, and not just after leave to remain has [finally] been granted".

The New Scots strategy brought councils, statutory bodies, charities and faith groups together with the Scottish Refugee Council and academics, like New Scots Chair and Unesco Professor of Refugee Integration at Glasgow University Alison Phipps plus colleagues professors Alison Strang and Alastair Ager from Queen Margaret University.

According to Phipps the work of her QMU colleagues was instrumental in placing social bonds at the heart of the New Scots Policy: "Social bonds create neighbours who meet, greet and eat with one another. That’s what keeps people safe, especially when state structures creak or fail."

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And essentially that was what also swung into action when the Kenmure Street Two were lifted. This decentralised mixture of voluntary and official effort and the simple determination to act before the long, alienating months and years of asylum processing sets Scotland’s resettlement programmes apart at international level and has transformed and saved countless lives.

Of course, it’s proved easier to deal with refugees who’ve already won the right to work and remain than asylum seekers who can volunteer but not undertake paid employment. Still, other countries with larger, centrally-run refugee programmes appear to have found integration more daunting. According to Professor Phipps, it’s taken decades of learning, collaboration and behind-the-scenes work to turn Scotland into a world leader in refugee integration.

The evidence is on the streets.

In Glasgow, migrants or refugees have set up the African Calabash restaurant on Union Street (with 24 staff), the Soul Food Sisters Collective and a laundrette business, Fluff & Fold.

Argyll and Bute Council has housed 21 refugee families on Bute since 2015 and some have moved successfully into enterprise.

The Rayan in Rothesay is a Halal take-away restaurant run by a Syrian project manager and his wife who won rave reviews for food they contributed to a local market stall.

Nearby Syrian-run Helmi’s award winning patisserie has welcomed Billy Connolly as a customer and in Stornoway, Syrian refugee Mohammed Edris has turned 30 years’ experience of running an upholstery firm in Homs into a Hebridean business that reupholsters old furniture using local Harris Tweed.

Meanwhile the Scottish Islands’ Federation is offering free online business training with modules in English, Spanish, Farsi and Arabic as part of a transnational project focused on refugees moving to island and coastal locations.

Well managed integration schemes work. But the Westminster funding that accompanied the first asylum seekers in 2000 has all but dried up and Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill is the start of a new hostile environment – stripping many refugees of the right to settle permanently, sending thousands to offshore processing centres and criminalising asylum seekers who "arrive spontaneously" – a savage and shameful breach of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

But the Bill is almost certain to pass when MPs gather again in September and confrontation with Holyrood is therefore guaranteed.

Are Scots proud of our track record welcoming and integrating asylum seekers?

Will the Scottish Government defy Westminster if its New Scots policy is threatened?

And amongst the policy battlefields liable to erupt in the next parliamentary session, does any speak more eloquently about the kind of country Scotland hopes to become?

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