Cyprus Today - - OPINION - With Stephen Day

WHICH is the more pitiable? Mostly men (along with some women and chil­dren), cross­ing the English Chan­nel in an in­flat­able rub­ber ring you wouldn’t trust to carry your child across the lo­cal duck pond, or the bleed­ing hearts wait­ing on Eng­land’s shores, wav­ing “wel­come” plac­ards at what they claim to be “refugees”? It’s de­bat­able, isn’t it?

For my­self, I’m quite clear about this moral dilemma. There is no doubt that those whose lives are be­ing put at risk by “peo­ple traf­fick­ers” (rack­e­teers) de­serve some sym­pa­thy, but “pity” for them is some­thing be­yond my reach. If chil­dren fig­ure amongst the “refugee” num­bers, what the hell are they do­ing there? What re­spon­si­ble par­ent would put their child through such a haz­ardous and grossly ex­ploita­tive jour­ney? They wouldn’t, now would they?

One spokes­woman for the wel­com­ing UK plac­ard wa­vers re­cently claimed that “the ma­jor­ity of the boat peo­ple are Kurds” seek­ing “po­lit­i­cal asy­lum”. I see (this paragon of “virtue sig­nalling” has ob­vi­ously be­ing do­ing pass­port checks some­where mid-Chan­nel). Ac­cord­ing to her, the UK has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to “process their asy­lum claims”. Par­don?

Let’s sup­pose they are mostly Kurds, es­cap­ing “war and op­pres­sion in Syria and Iraq”. In such cir­cum­stances, who wouldn’t leave? That’s not the is­sue. Why have they trav­elled right across Eu­rope to be “safe”, end­ing up in France be­fore they left its shores? Since when was France (or in­deed any other Euro­pean coun­try they have crossed) not “safe”, or able to process their claims for “asy­lum”? The an­swer is “never”, in modern times.

Yes, the UK is a sig­na­tory to in­ter­na­tional agree­ments on asy­lum-seek­ers and bound by their rules, as are other Euro­pean coun­tries, but those rules are clear. Gen­uine asy­lum-seek­ers should ap­ply for asy­lum “in the first safe coun­try they ar­rive in”. As most first land in Greece or Italy, that is where asy­lum should be sought. Last time I looked, the UK was a hell of a long way from ei­ther place.

So why do they end up on UK shores? If they are gen­uine, why haven’t these “refugees” al­ready ap­plied for asy­lum when they first reached “safety”? Why have other EU coun­tries sim­ply passed them on? Could it be they don’t want the vast wave of mi­gra­tion en­gulf­ing Eu­rope any more than the av­er­age Briton does? You bet it is.

What other rea­son might have en­cour­aged the lat­est wave of “asy­lum-seek­ers” to try to en­ter the UK? Could it be they see Bri­tain as a “soft touch”; a land where once you ar­rive, they never kick you out, even if your “asy­lum” ap­pli­ca­tion is re­fused, be­cause you can claim your “hu­man rights” are be­ing in­fringed if they do? Could it be that the ma­jor­ity of these boat peo­ple are sim­ply eco­nomic mi­grants, look­ing for a bet­ter life, ini­tially at the ex­pense of the Bri­tish tax­payer? Of course it is.

The plac­ard-wav­ing, virtues­ig­nalling mi­nor­ity urge the UK to “res­cue the refugees” midChan­nel, to avoid the risk of them drown­ing. Fine; no-one with any heart wants to see any­one die, but these ex­ploited peo­ple should not sim­ply be taken into the UK. If the gov­ern­ment does that, they would only be com­plet­ing the mi­grants’ vol­un­tar­ily dan­ger­ous jour­ney for them. What does that do, other than en­cour­age oth­ers to fol­low in their wake and en­sure the dis­gust­ing “peo­ple traf­fick­ers” will have an end­less and grow­ing stream of willingly ex­ploited vic­tims?

So what should the UK do? Pick them up mid-Chan­nel by all means, but sail them straight back to where they came from. Strong, tough mes­sages need to be sent to stop the ex­ploita­tion. Se­condly, the UK needs to toughen up its asy­lum pro­ce­dures at home. When ap­pli­cants ar­rive, they are held in cus­tody un­til their ap­pli­ca­tions are pro­cessed, then re­leased, for fear of in­fring­ing their “hu­man rights”. The trou­ble is, if they are re­fused and threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion, no­body in the Home Of­fice con­se­quently has any clue where they are. What is “lib­eral” or “car­ing” about any of this? Noth­ing.

Pick them up, send them back, re­peal the Hu­man Rights Act and hold any who ac­tu­ally land in cus­tody un­til their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions are de­cided, then de­port those judged in­valid. De­ter this ex­ploita­tion, stop fa­cil­i­tat­ing it. That is the real “hu­mane” ap­proach. Stop be­ing “a soft touch”.

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