OPENING OUR BORDERS TO GENUINE REFUGEES LOOKS GOOD ON PAPER, BUT THEY NEED TO COME HERE THROUGH THE LEGAL CHANNELS
Are we looking at another migrant crisis out of Afghanistan?
20,000. That’s the number of refugees the UK government is planning to settle outside of Afghanistan. It comes in a week in which Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was telling BBC News that British nationals in Afghanistan were in the low hundreds. The UK has evacuated 17,000 people since April.
The pictures of Afghans being brought over in cargo places to start a new life in Britain mirror the images of the thousands, millions even brought over from Iraq, Syria and Yemen in 2015. This was the height of the European Refugee Crisis where 1.3 million requested asylum in Europe (the highest since the war).
Six years on, I wonder whether we could be seeing a similar crisis on our shores in the wake of Afghanistan’s mass evacuation. We, as a country, stressed by Nigel Farage of all people, have always been open to genuine refugees escaping war-torn countries and religious persecution. It is our humanitarian duty to protect them, but, just like Britain cannot be the police force of the world, we cannot by its social services either.
The solution is simple. If we are going to take a portion of refugees as we are now doing, these must be processed off-shore and through legal channels. We cannot have a situation where 20,000 migrants are expected to cross the English Channel illegally by the end of this year. It’s obscene.
Since 1951, it has been the law in Europe that you claim asylum in the first safe country. EU and Britain’s membership of it made that effective on UK shores. But, since leaving the EU, the country no longer abides by that law. However, Priti Patel has put forward in her immigration plan to put in place a new system that will ensure asylum seekers who have claimed asylum in the nearest safe country won’t be granted asylum in Britain.
A more effective strategy than Patel (who Nigel Farage has called “the worst Home Secretary ever”) and certainly one that was well in force at the height of the last Abbott Government is Australia was imposed by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2013. Abbott said that illegal immigrants travelling on small boats via Indonesia would not be granted asylum in Australia and would be removed. The answer: The boats stopped coming because they were sent back to Indonesia.
The Australian system worked and saved lives of those dying on the boats. What does this mean to us?
The point is, we as a nation, have a humanitarian duty to protect refugees from war-torn countries which has been displayed by the government’s vow to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees. What I worry about is whether if we open our borders too much, undocumented crossings across the channel will soar. Just between June 26th and June 27th, 315 people crossed the channel illegally and Farage predicts 20,000 will do so by the end of the year.
It’s simply obscene - the UK has thousands and millions living in extreme poverty or homeless. Our taxpayers’ money should be going towards giving them better homes or a house in itself rather than keeping illegal immigrants in Napier Baracks. Can you imagine how much money it’s going to cost to deport them too?
Then you look at the hospitals. There’s 141,000 beds in the UK hospitals. Those beds are at risk of becoming overwhelmed by Covid patients along with suicide victims and people suffering from cancer. And, on top of that, will now have to deal with a substantial proportion of refugees and immigrants coming into the UK through both legal and illegal channels.
Immigration leads to a rising population. According to the Office of National Statistics last month, the UK has a total population of 67.1 million (an increase of 284,000 on the previous 12 months). The true number is substantially higher and more than 80% of the UK’s population growth since 2000 which is officially 8 million people, has come from immigration. And these are just the ones we know about - there are many more living behind closed doors.
A rising population causes overcrowding and competition for jobs. When it comes down to it, the hospitals can’t cope, the schools can’t cope and the buses and boats can’t cope. Put it simply, we need stricter controls and Priti Patel is proposing, but not giving them to us.
I always highlight Australia as the masterminds behind being “tough on asylum and immigration”. Their points-based immigration system has always been marketed as a valid comparison point for our own system which became points-based in 2019. Every non-citizen there is eligible to remain provided they score a threshold number of points in a scoring system that assesses education level, language fluency and existing job offers amongst others.
This is the standard we should be upholding to all immigrants coming to this country whether legal ones, illegal ones or asylum seekers. They should learn the language of the country and contribute to our economy. We need them as much as they need us. To work on our lands, fruit pick and drive our trucks.
But we also need to be real about the dangers of opening our borders too widely. Opening our borders to genuine refugees looks good on paper, but uncontrolled immigration takes a toll on every aspect of our waking life. It’s pointless to deny it. If we deny it, we could be looking at another refugee crisis coming out of Afghanistan.