The illegal immigration crisis on the Channel and the action it requires | Dan Mikhaylov — Orthodox Conservatives
For centuries, the English Channel had served Britain as an unsurpassable moat against encroachments from mainland Europe. On several occasions, France tried to land its forces on our shores, but neither Louis XV nor Napoleon managed to realise their ambitions. During the Battle of Britain, the zeal of RAF pilots ensured that Hitler’s attempt did not become an aberration from this historic trend either.
Fortunately, current generations no longer need to fear a military invasion from the other side of the Channel. European nations have bid farewell to armed conflict as a tool to resolve disputes. The region’s pacification notwithstanding, our borders remain vulnerable. While the kind of warfare depicted in Turner’s paintings of the Battle of Trafalgar cannot be imagined today, the United Kingdom is nonetheless in the midst of another war in the Channel- against illegal immigration and human trafficking.
This fray seemingly is not in our favour. Several dinghies, filled with people of questionable or difficult to verify backgrounds, head north from France every day. These journeys have already 4,000 migrants to the United Kingdom, and this figure is expected to reach 7,500 by the end of 2020. These individuals, invariably, have the intention to obtain citizenship by illegal means.
They have left their homelands, which far from always include war-torn areas, and come to Britain in pursuit of asylum. As this benevolent system, established in the 1951 Refugee Convention continues to suffer abuse, its very existence sticks in the craw of exponentially more Britons than the few dissenters to souveranism.
Both Migration Observatory and Ipsos have published polls indicating the public’s aversion to immigration. In the first survey, 77% of respondents increasing immigration, and more than 40% desired its outright reduction, whereas those wanting to restrict immigration to 59% in the second one. Although many held migration per se in high regard, given its impact on the country’s economic and technological development, Britons were concerned by migrants placing a burden on the NHS, depreciating domestic wages, and failing to assimilate into the local way of life. These concerns are magnified when levels are excessive.
Appropriate government action is becoming a necessity, and the Conservative government has fathomed this at last. The Home Secretary Priti Patel, has commissioned a review of the nation’s sea capability in the Channel. The Telegraph’s Charles Hymas suggests this can “see the Navy recalled to help tackle the situation for the first time” since Sajid Javid “requested military aid last January”. Immigration Minister, Chris Philip, has similarly to Paris to discuss improving border control measures. To top that off, The United Kingdom remains eager the the existing Dublin regulation , which is part of the European Union’s asylum law observed in our post-Brexit transition period and which makes asylum seekers’ claims transferable to the first member-state they entered, with a new agreement that excludes a time limit on transfers.
With that in mind, even if taken in the right direction these steps are not necessarily conducive to success. Benjamin Loughnane of the Migration Watch , an advocacy group committed to reducing today’s unsustainable rate of immigration, believes this, as well. In his conversation with Orthodox Conservatives, he was swift to raise doubts about the efficacy of London’s recent talks with Paris, positing, “Every delegation we’ve sent to France has been tinged by the irony of hundreds of migrants crossing in the opposite direction…[and] designed to give the impression of something being done”. A functioning deal, he added, requires that the French authorities investigate and prosecute cases of bribery amongst the French coastguard. After all, when the United Kingdom France £6 million to help protect the 300 km of coastline facing the British Isles, the situation did not improve whatsoever.
Macron has reportedly asked the United Kingdom to ramp up financial assistance again. He has additional resources to detect and intercept boats. However, geographical features and the plausible human factor, to which my interviewee alludes, are likely hampering this effort.
Britain and France need a change of strategy, as the recent rise in Channel crossings by prospective asylum seekers cannot be explained by the scarcity of our collective resources alone.
According to Loughnane, human smugglers “have been unusually adept at plying their trade in Calais” for numerous reasons. They use Brexit and the Dublin regulation’s uncertain future: one can easily sell the idea to those dreaming of prosperity across the Channel that when the latter ends, Britain will have fewer mechanisms to expel them. To this list, we could add the Calais border barrier , which has made it more difficult for people to stow away on lorries and therefore incentivised using the Channel, and the weather. A sunny summer, clear skies, and calm waters “make favourable conditions for such crossings”. The weather is an inevitably playing variable, of course, but these facts arguably warrant a crackdown on smuggling by the British and French law enforcement.
Another important policy area worth considering is the role some non-governmental organisations might play in the crossings. In the Mediterranean, NGOs have been accused of, and proven complicit in, migrant boats in reaching their preferred destination under the guise of rescue missions. French non-profits have been known to support the local immigrant populations both materially and by virtue of public statements , whence there must be an enquiry into their activity as well, and if needs be, both governments should contemplate revoking their charitable status for legal violations.
Whenever the French coastguard intercepts vessels, migrants refuse and to jump into the water. This causes the former to withdraw on the basis that preserving life is the first law of the sea or shadow the immigrants until they reach British waters. This creates a stalemate, where action on such an issue is impossible. The more pervasive this becomes, the more likely it is that training in how to deal with the law enforcement has been provided to asylum seekers by a third party, and given the links between them and the NGOs, it is plausible that the latter are contributing to this.
In addition to revamping how Britain partners with France, it is time to reimagine our asylum seeking process at large. Herein, we are not advocating the United Kingdom abandon the 1951 Refugee Convention . Under it, every individual has the right to apply for asylum in any state, party to it, and remain there until their claim has been evaluated, and our nation has a history of both respecting the law and saving the needy. Thus, Britain 27,000 Indians from Uganda in the 1970s and helped them discover a haven from oppression under Idi Amin; needless to say, these Indians had little other choice but to turn to their erstwhile metropolis for security.
However, this by no means precludes modifying the system. As Loughnane has informed me, many apply for asylum, knowing it takes considerable time to process their applications, they can stay in the UK for years waiting for a decision without being removed, and “even if they are rejected, they can appeal” that decision. Even once the appeal is rejected, they “can apply again on different terms, claiming a different reason for their asylum claim”.
Understandably, in this whirlpool of whimsical bureaucracy, some claims are wrongly rejected, but far more importantly, some claims are wrongly accepted. In turn, this makes any other regulations limiting the time asylum seekers spend in Britain entirely irrelevant and precipitates our communities’ infiltration with foreigners without those communities’ explicit consent.
Reforming the asylum process should entail assessing how pro-British applicants are, as well as factoring in how many safe countries they have passed on their way to Britain. There is some indisputable reason to these judgments: it is unjust to demand familiarity with our culture and traditions from anyone fleeing persecution or immediate death. Yet, it is in our certain interest to require a degree of reciprocity in the form of respect for our parliamentary democracy, the English language, the Union Jack, and our common law, just to name a few inextricable, universal elements of Britishness.
As for the latter, it is important to note that many applications come from states, not ravaged by extreme violence. This further undermines these applicants’ right to be incorporated into the asylum seeking process. In 2018, the five most common countries among asylum seekers Albania, Pakistan, and Iran. These are neither at war, nor enduring a grave humanitarian crisis. The fact that their citizens are still trying to move to Britain amply demonstrates how much this system has been abused, and the more people strive to take advantage of such deficiencies, the harder it will be to process applications correctly and deport those who are ineligible.
Government failure to control immigration aggravates critics supporters of Brexit and later Boris Johnson, since immigration was critical to both the 2016 Referendum and the 2019 General Election outcomes. Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union should curtail EU immigration. The fight against illegal migration and those who enable it remains undecided, however.
This year, an equivalent of the population of Lossiemouth will arrive on Britain’s shores illegally. No matter how one perceives Nigel Farage’s recent of asylum seekers being consistently lodged in four-star hotels, it is unsettling that some of those prospective applicants arrive by illicit means and could pose not just an economic and national security threat, but also a sanitary one given the COVID-19 pandemic. Worse still, these individuals are more often than not accommodated in British communities without those communities’ assent to this practice.
Growing public discontent should provide sufficient impetus for the government to reassert its control over the border and the nation’s immigration system. Now that the United Kingdom is searching for its novel geopolitical identity, following its departure from the European Union, we have an opportunity to get our immigration priorities right. Genuine progress cannot happen without reimagining how we handle asylum seeker applications as well as how London cooperates with Paris. Only then, will the once turbulent English Channel see the end of the fight between illegal immigration and law and order.
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