Updated: Mar 22, 2021
This article by Douglas Murray for the Telegraph dated 21.03.21 is very timely and well deserved:
For several generations, the subject of immigration has bubbled beneath British politics. Occasionally it has boiled up, though less so than in almost any other developed country. As mass movement of people has become easier and technology has allowed everyone in the world to know how the richest populations live, every country has been struggling with the same issue: how can the developed world have a fair and humane policy towards the world’s poor and dispossessed while retaining control of its borders? The problem is a difficult one: morally, strategically, politically. And it has been made unnecessarily harder by generations of Left-wing agitators deriding decent, concerned opinion as ignorant or “racist”.
While migration remains a toxic issue across continental Europe, the Brexit vote went a long way to quieting the British public’s concerns. Opinion polls show that immigration is now some way down the list of the public’s top concerns because we feel that, in voting to leave the EU, we in part addressed the problem. And, of course, for the past year there has been almost no movement into the UK.
But there is one exception to that, which can be seen in the steady, significant flow of boats that has been coming across the English Channel. Last year almost 10,000 people arrived illegally into the UK via this route, an increase of several times over from the year before. As legal movement into Britain was impossible this illegal movement grew. A Conservative government that promised to “take back control” of our borders cannot fail to deal with this. Blaming the EU will no longer quite do.
So it is to Priti Patel’s considerable credit that she is this week launching a consultation to address the issue, with legislation planned before the summer.
The problem at present is that once boats are in the UK side of the water, the authorities have an obligation to “rescue” them and their occupants and escort them into the UK. The arrivals are then put up in hotels and other accommodation. Despite the fact that all these arrivals have entered illegally – circumventing all legal routes – nearly all of them will stay. This system is deeply unfair and clearly rewards those who break the law.
Various other governments have realised this, including the Danes and Australians. Both countries have spent some small political and other capital trying to deter illegal migrants from making the journey. Both countries have had a huge success, dwindling their flows to almost nothing. Of course the far-Left NGOs and others who dominate the migration debate like to pretend that these countries have become pariahs. Nothing is further from the truth. The pariah states are those that are lax with their borders, lax with their citizen’s safety, lax with their taxpayer’s money, and unbothered about enriching the vile people-smuggling networks.
The Home Secretary’s aims are admirably straightforward: to end illegal immigration into the UK. This recognises what I and others have long argued: that you cannot have two asylum systems, one for people who do the process legally and another for anyone who makes it here first. The Home Secretary’s proposals make it clear that if you come to the UK illegally you will not receive the same rights as those people who have made the journey through legal routes.
The proposals raise the prospect of prison sentences followed by deportation for those who arrive illegally and life sentences for those in the smuggling networks. They also aim to improve the UK’s ability to remove those who have no right to be here, including foreign national offenders. Crucially, they will put illegal entrants into a different system to legal ones. At present everyone goes into the same system. In the new system illegals will be treated differently.
There are plans to house arrivals in specially constructed facilities. Most radically, the proposals are open to the possibility of offshoring – that is, of taking people who have broken into the country to a third location in order to return them more easily to their country of origin. This method – used by Australia to great effect – has already caused some noise. Left-wing activist, or perhaps just plain lazy, Home Office officials have leaked parts of these proposals in advance, hoping to stir up ire against their boss. Lobbying groups have been busy in the media dismissing these and others of the new proposals as inhumane or unfair.
They are no such thing. They are the bare minimum needed to get Britain to have a fair and safe asylum policy. What is inhumane is the status quo. What is unfair is what has happened to date.
Priti Patel speaks to the Conservative conference on October 1, 2019. Credit: Henry Nicholls