Topically for Kent, given the influx of boatloads of foreigners to our beaches over the Christmas period, I thought I’d look at the whole immigration issue. There are, of course, many viewpoints available depending on how you choose to see thinhgs
Your asylum seeker may be his economic migrant and her illegal immigrant – who’s to say which? At the point of departure from their home countries we can all agree such people are migrants, whatever their reasons for leaving they are technically migrants: that’s so straightforward there can be no dispute.
Then, however, you are in to the reason for leaving. Are they being persecuted, seeking abroad a freedom they do not have at home, looking for asylum in a safe place to live? Or are they looking for better work or life opportunities for themselves or their families, driven by an economic motive?
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Whichever category they are in, when they turn up unannounced and uninvited on our shores they are, by definition illegal immigrants. Although to the right-on PC BBC they are always just “migrants” lest they offend anyone by suggesting their arrival was illegal.
That’s when we reach the tricky bit. They tell the authorities they are asylum seekers from – pick a despotic country – Iran seems to be the current choice. But are they?
It seems to be normal that those entering the country illegally have no papers and can claim to be of any nationality they choose and any age they choose as well.
It would seem that at the moment most of the recent arrivals have claimed to be Iranian and some, if not all, probably are but without papers how do we know.
And knowing nothing about these arrivals how do we know that they are who they say they are and that they came from where they say they came and that they are indeed fleeing persecution?
We simply cannot tell and it would be foolishly naïve to simply believe them all. I can see the logic of what Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, say: if these people are asylum seekers fleeing persecution why did they not make a case for asylum in the first safe country they came to?
The fact that most are illegal economic migrants means that almost certainly genuine asylum seeking cases will not be recognised as such. That is unfair.
The logic has to be that those picked up in the Channel should be immediately returned to France, their point of origin. If the migrants knew that would happen and if it was rigorously enforced there would be no point in people braving the hazards of the Channel.
At present they, and the people smuggling gangs, know that if picked up by our craft they will be landed in the UK where they can immediately claim asylum.
Thereafter the UK asylum system will work incredibly slowly and thoroughly trying to fairly investigate the claims made, during which time many of the illegal arrivals will disappear into the black economy, sometimes it would seem into prostitution or cannabis farming in order to pay off the smuggling gangs and perhaps raise money to allow other family members to attempt the journey.
I know people will say there were only a couple of hundred arrivals in the last couple of months and its true we could accommodate those kinds of numbers easily, but just where do we stop? We can, theoretically, control lawful immigration, although that’s turned out to be more difficult than politicians thought, but at least we have an idea of how many lawful immigrants there are in the country. Anybody care to guess how many illegals there are?
I heard an immigrant the other day bemoaning the fact that in France they get harassed by police seeking to see their identity papers. A lack of ID is clearly one of the attractions of the UK, once you’re here you’re most unlikely to get quizzed as to who you are. Perhaps it’s time for a rethink. Most of us carry bits of plastic on us, driving licences, bank cards, NI cards, whatever. It might stick in our throats a bit but perhaps it’s time for ID cards?
All we need now is an MP prepared to stick their head above the parapet and propose it, which would no doubt bring a string of flak and venom from the civil liberties brigade. Ah well, I suppose it won’t happen, then. Shame.