Over a year into the pandemic, you might feel the government had enough on its plate. Yet it is cynically manufacturing another crisis, at the expense of vulnerable people who have arrived here seeking refuge. Its asylum proposals, published on Wednesday, will only stoke the populist anger which Nigel Farage and others have sought to create by seizing on images of boats of young men approaching the white cliffs of Dover.
Priti Patel’s claim that the system is “collapsing” under the burden of demand is nonsensical. The number of asylum applications in this country last year was well below half of its 2002 peak. Four out of five refugees globally have fled to neighbouring countries; Turkey hosts 3.6 백만. For Ms Patel to snipe that EU countries must be “part of the solution” is rich when Germany has a refugee population of around 1.1 백만, compared to the UK’s 133,000. Greece, France and Spain have also accepted far more asylum seekers in recent years.
Though three-quarters of applicants are still awaiting an initial decision after a year, the rising backlog is not caused by a surge in applications, but by the failure to deal with them in a timely manner. Immigration appeals and judicial reviews in the UK have fallen over the last five years, and two out of three of those seeking asylum are found to have valid claims. If the home secretary is truly concerned about rising costs, she should get to grips with her own department. 대신, she has scapegoated irregular arrivals, presenting those who risk their lives to get here as greedy, queue-jumping cheats profiting at the expense of women and children. Demonising them is hardly new, but there is something especially distasteful about doing it on the pretext of concern for other asylum seekers.
The promise is that those with valid claims will be able to come here through a resettlement process. A fair and well-planned scheme, which allows refugees to prepare for a new home, to travel safely, and receive the support they need to begin their new lives, is entirely desirable. But there is no indication of how a scheme might work, nor how many places are available. The need for consultation does not explain why a previous target of resettling 5,000 people a year has been dropped. And there can be no confidence in the good faith of a government which abandoned the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees after accepting less than 500 의 3,000 initially envisaged.
Not even the best scheme would be an excuse for inhumanity to those desperate enough to seek other routes. People with a valid claim have no legal obligation to register it in the first place they reach, and may have good reason to want to live elsewhere, as the UN high commissioner for refugees has pointed out. To recognise their need for asylum, but then leave them in limbo for ever, subject to repeated checks and the permanent threat of removal, would not only be cruel. It would increase the burden on officials already unable to cope, and likely lead to legal challenges, compounding the existing workload.
Overall, these proposals look unworkable. No third countries have agreed to accept rejected asylum seekers. Brexit ended the agreement which allowed the UK to return those who travelled here via the EU to the bloc; given current relations, it is hard to see that changing. This plan looks like a more sophisticated, but not much more sensible, version of the Home Office’s reported suggestion to turn back boats with water cannons: a cheap gimmick which would look ridiculous, were it not so callous.