United Kingdom: Boris Johnson’s government promises a strong hand to stop immigrant records in the English Channel | International

Boris Johnson’s government has faced itself, in the same period in which it promised that Brexit would help regain control of its borders, with the unexpected tragedy of mass immigration in the waters of the English Channel. This figure is dwarfed by the influx of people who arrive each year on continental Europe’s coasts, but with more than 29,000 migrants trying to reach the UK by 2021, according to media accounts such as the BBC, UK. Home Office is facing , without experience or left hand, faced with an unusual problem for which he only offers tougher laws. “Citizens have been demanding reform for two decades, and that’s what our new plan for immigration is all about,” said Secretary of State for Illegal Immigration Justice and Control Tom Pursglove. Your definition of position already provides a clear picture of Downing Street’s strategy against irregular immigration. “The Nationalities and Borders Act will define a deliberate attempt to enter the UK illegally as a crime, and will impose permanent prison terms on those who facilitate this access,” Pursglove said.

The text of the law is currently in the final stages of processing, in the House of Lords, where it will most likely be subject to amendments that will have to be rejected by the Commons’ conservative majority, when it returns for final consideration. The proposal, developed by the ministry Priti Patel, plays on double standards that barely manages to hide its intention to build a “law and order” response focused on security rather than the humanitarian side of the issue―; harsh language to satisfy constituents who support Brexit.

Despite a speech by Patel, head of Home Affairs, accusing criminal gangs of promoting and organizing canal crossings, the underlying idea is that the vast majority of people trying to reach the UK are “economic immigrants” – They don’t flee for political reasons – that they don’t really need any kind of international protection and that, by their actions, all they do is “cross the line” of people who legitimately aspire to achieve refugee status. “[Un 70% de las personas que han llegado en los últimos 12 meses] they are single men (…). They are not true asylum seekers. They were able to pay the mafia and contact them, either in northern France or in Germany. They are the ones who are elbowing women and children at risk and fleeing persecution,” Patel said Oct. 27 in his appearance before the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

The minister best known for toughness in the Johnson administration went through hours of very low popularity in the Conservative Party. His multiple pledges to stop irregular entry have been repeatedly rebuffed with figures coming in from the English Channel, which in 2020, amid international mobility, stood at around 8,500 people, according to the UK’s Refugee Council. ). His lack of discretion with the French authorities, where most of the immigrants come from at the last crossroads, has led to an almost irreparable deterioration in diplomatic relations and cooperation with Emmanuel Macron’s government. The deaths of about thirty immigrants in late November, when the ship carrying them sank, became a bitter critique crossroads between London and Paris. Johnson’s government denounced France for not doing enough to prevent people from leaving its beaches, and even threatened to withdraw financial aid promised to strengthen police oversight.

Everything was made worse when Johnson himself published on Twitter a letter he sent to Macron, in which he requested that Britain be able to return immigrants arriving from the country without any problems, and even suggested that British police patrol along with French beaches on the other side of the channel. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin immediately withdrew an invitation he had given Patel to participate that week in a meeting of European ministers to address the migration crisis in the channel. And Macron went so far as to accuse Johnson of not being serious. “I was surprised by his method, but it wasn’t serious,” the French president said. “Between our leaders we don’t communicate via tweet, nor do we publish the letters we send to each other.”

Real asylum number

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Faced with repeated arguments by the UK Government that current legislation permits abuse in asylum and refugee application procedures, organizations such as the Refugee Council have done a great deal of statistical work to refute prejudice. 70% of the total number of people who reached British shores, or were intercepted in their attempts to cross the channel, over the past year, came from five countries: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Vietnam. One in four is Iranian. Among the ten countries from which most of the immigrants came were also Afghanistan or Yemen. The Refugee Council notes that nearly 98% of people who arrive on British shores via canals end up seeking asylum. And among refugees arriving from the ten main countries, up to 61% achieved this official protection, compared to an average of 52% from other countries who arrived by other means.

The calculation thus denies that the migrants who fall into the channel are mostly “economic immigrants”. “Governments aspire to give legal status to brutal and dangerous policies, as represented by anti-refugee laws, that will only lead to more people drowning in canals,” said Tim Naor Hilton, executive director of the Refugee Council. . Simply put, greater police control over other public access points, such as the illegal transport of immigrants via trucks and containers via the Eurotunnel, has drastically reduced their numbers, and has diverted the flow of people into the English Channel. , which is up to several years. then is the minority route. The Johnson administration has endured the tragedy the EU has known for a long time, and its first response was to amplify the immigration discourse that fueled Brexit.

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Matt Thompson

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