10 January 2019, The Tablet

We must end this destructive response to migrants


We must end this destructive response to migrants

Members of the Kent Anti-Racism Network hold a vigil in Ramsgate on Sunday to welcome refugees
Photo: PA, Gareth Fuller

 

Although vulnerable men, women and children feel the effects of the deliberate culture of hostility to migrants most acutely, the JRS director and former government minister points out that opportunistic politicians’ tough threats also attack the values that lie at the core of a just society

Last week, the Government responded to a very small number of people crossing the English Channel to seek asylum with a show of aggressive force. The episode exposes the nature of our politics: it trades in blind hostility to migrants and remains trapped in games and short-term posturing, at a cost of any wider notions of stewardship for the common good.

In front of a hungry media, from the shores of Dover, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that the United Kingdom would not only stop boats carrying asylum seekers, but would also seek to deny a fair asylum process to the people arriving on them.

Appearing to speak directly to those making the journeys, he said: “If you do somehow make it to the UK, we will do everything we can to make sure that you are often not successful [in your asylum claim] … because we need to break that link”.

In other words, this was about dissuading others from coming here to claim asylum. Worse, Mr Javid’s statement constituted a public rejection of asylum claims, regardless of merit. In trying to sound tough, the Home Secretary threatened to renege on the Refugee Convention. It goes without saying that this would be illegal and would dismantle the very mechanism designed to protect those forced to flee for their lives.

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