Safe and legal routes

My reply from MP Thérèse Coffey calling for safe and legal routes to the UK:

“Thank you for contacting me about migrants crossing the English Channel.

The Home Secretary has said that we must make this route unviable in order to secure a long-term solution to the issue. The National Crime Agency, Border Force and the Police have been engaging closely with the French authorities to crack down on the criminal gangs who facilitate these crossings.

This has never been about escorting boats across The Channel. Once an unseaworthy small boat reaches the sea, the first priority is to save lives. The Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and those on board the small boats are not wearing suitable life jackets despite the rough waters. I appreciate these people are desperate and will put their own lives and those of their children at risk rather than go back to France.

Once the occupants of the boats arrive on our shores, they do not automatically receive the right to remain in the UK. France is a safe country with an established asylum system. Those coming across the Channel should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.

The Government will continue to act fast to make this route unviable and end the cruel and dangerous people smuggling between France and the UK. A new balanced and fair asylum system is being developed to ensure it is protected from abuse while providing protection to the most vulnerable people who need our help.”

I was grateful for a reply.

But  a couple of things bothered me.

Thank you for contacting me about migrants crossing the English Channel.
My letter was about people…*

The Home Secretary has said that we must make this route unviable
She also said new laws would ‘send the left into a meltdown’ so I can’t accept that her motives are humanitarian so much as political.

..those on board the small boats are not wearing suitable life jackets despite the rough waters.
Yes, really.
Here’s an interesting article on the psychology of victim blaming.

I appreciate these people are desperate and will put their own lives and those of their children at risk rather than go back to France.
Me too. Except that I think most people would feel their kids’ lives are in fact *less* at risk in the UK than in France, where police brutality against ‘migrants’ is constant.

France is a safe country with an established asylum system.
See above. French police also stop access to food and water.

Those coming across the Channel should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.
No. “There is no legal duty or obligation on the asylum seeker to claim and remain in the first safe country and an asylum seeker who moves on is not breaking the law by doing so or disqualifying themselves from refugee status.” (Free Movement).
The Dublin Agreement meant it was easier to, but with Brexit we’re not part of that anymore.

The Government will continue to act fast to make this route unviable..
Even though the hideous, preventable consequences are well-documented?
Only recently Abdulfatah Hamdallah died because there was no alternative for him other than to risk an unsafe crossing. Until there is safe and legal passage, people will continue to risk their lives. In the Mediterranean, 497 people have died seeking refuge this year. You might accept this but I don’t. Not in my name.

A new balanced and fair asylum system is being developed to ensure it is protected from abuse while providing protection to the most vulnerable people who need our help.
I hope so.

 

Template letter from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants:
I am writing to you, as your constituent, to raise my concerns about the Government’s handling of recent Channel crossings by people seeking asylum in the UK. These are people who have lived through things most of us cannot even imagine. After harrowing journeys, they are forced into the hands of people traffickers, because of a lack of safe and legal routes by which to reach the UK.

Nobody would risk their life to make a dangerous journey unless they had no other option. It is not possible to make an asylum claim from outside the UK – therefore, those seeking protection are in too many cases forced to risk their lives just to access their right to claim asylum. Many of those who arrive by boat are subsequently recognised as refugees by the Home Office.

Rather than giving them a fair hearing, the Government is seeking to frustrate international law by returning them to unsafe conditions in camps across Europe. The Government’s knee-jerk response to the relatively small number of arrivals is, I believe, the wrong approach.

If the Home Office were truly serious about tackling exploitation and trafficking, they would create safe and legal routes of entry to the UK. Further militarising the border or shifting responsibility onto the French authorities will not solve the problem – it will only push people into even more dangerous routes, and inevitably lead to more deaths, like the tragedy of the 39 Vietnamese migrants who froze to death in a lorry in Essex last year.

I am therefore asking that you write to the Home Secretary to raise these concerns with her directly, and urge her to take meaningful action to address the lack of safe and legal routes for people seeking protection in the UK. Please forward on any response you receive.

For more information please see this briefing by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.”

* Why KentLive uses the word ‘people’ when referring to ‘migrants’

KentLive uses the term people when referring to those who cross the Channel and arrive on our shores.

That’s because, regardless of their status at the point of entry, those moving from one country to the other are human beings.

You will have seen them commonly referred to as migrants. This is not incorrect.

The UN Migration Agency defines a migrant as – any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, what the causes for the movement are, or what the length of the stay is.

KentLive also refers to people in these circumstances as refugees.

The UN definition of refugees is – people who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalised violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.

 

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