What is it about the UK that makes boatloads and lorryloads of immigrants risk their lives from all over the world to get into the UK?
Just in the last week or so five small boatloads of illegal immigrants have arrived on the shores of Kent and Sussex.
All of them will have had to transit Europe to get here and in accordance with international law, if they are asylum seekers they should have sought asylum at the first safe country they came to.
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Many of them will of course have come from countries that internationally are considered safe, others will have suffered discrimination or fled war.
Surely, however, if they were seeking safety they must have found that in France, Spain, Italy or whatever other European countries they have come through.
So why head for the UK with all the risks that entails? After all taking a small boat across the Channel at night is pretty risky, hiding in a refrigerated lorry is pretty risky – both options have led to deaths.
I suppose that it is the fact that once they are here they will utter the magic word “asylum” and will enter a system that grinds slower than the mills of God.
Once registered, they will be asked to voluntarily present themselves at some future date for processing and by the time their case gets properly considered they will have been here several years, settled down and maybe even started a family, others of course will simply disappear off the radar.
There needs to be a recognition that these hopefuls are either asylum seekers in which case they should have claimed it elsewhere, or they are simply illegal immigrants seeking a better life for themselves. Whichever category they are there is no good case for them turning up on our shores.
We need to recognise that people trafficking is a big criminal business and it trades on the hopes and fears of the third world.
We know from press reporting how badly abused the hopeful migrants are, how many die, crossing the sea or crossing the desert and we know that a proportion of them are being trafficked on false promises of work but will finish up ruled by gangmasters or in brothels.
Here in Kent we are familiar with the fact that the young men, and it is mainly young men who make this trip, will be treated as children and supported by the county council.
But let’s be honest, many of these teenagers are not anything like our idea of children. They are aged by their experiences of home or life on the journey.
And we will all have seen stories about young men in our classrooms who turn out to not be so young after all.
So what’s to be done? The obvious answer and it will sound heartless is that as soon as these people turn up on our shores we turn them right round and escort them back across the Channel.
The second thing is to publicise world wide that we are doing this: if the hope of entry is dashed, perhaps people will think twice about starting out on the journey.
Thirdly, and somewhat reluctantly, perhaps it is time we had ID cards and could identify who and who should not be here. That is after all one of the attractions of the UK for illegal immigrants, you can just disappear unlike on the continent.
The benefits of these proposals are thus: thousands of people will not lose their lives on the journey, criminal enterprises will be hamstrung and the skills and determination of all those young people can be harnessed to improving their own countries of origin.
Oh, and perhaps with fewer illegal migrants we could find a place for persecuted Christians like Asia Bibi, hounded throughout Pakistan and whose life is still at risk, as are the lives and livelihoods of so many Christians in religiously intolerant parts of the world.