Practical, fair, and compassionate - the argument for the Illegal Migration Bill
BY JACOB ARNOLD
In the name of spirited and balanced debate, this article has been written to present some of the key arguments that support the Illegal Migration Bill. This doesn’t mean they reflect my real views on the matter. However, I strongly feel it is important to consider both sides of this topical issue.
It is not controversial to say something must be done about illegal immigration - we have to act. The system is unfair, and the numbers staggering. Ultimately, people have been able to illegally arrive in the UK on small boats for too long, with the vulnerable dying in our waters. We must take responsibility for this which is why we must give the government’s Illegal Migration Bill a chance. And don’t just take my word for it, take that from Ken Clarke, former Father of the House, and Chancellor.
The Bill, a flagship policy, gives the Home Secretary a legal duty to remove those who arrive illegally from the country. Illegal immigrants are to be sent to Rwanda, or another safe country, with those coming from Albania being sent back after a series of new agreements. Based on compassion, fairness, security, and sustainability, it is essential to get behind this piece of ground-breaking legislation, with court challenges prolonging the pain and challenge associated with illegal crossings.
We must understand why people choose to leave France, a safe country, and risk their lives to reach the UK. This comes down to Britain being a hospitable place for migrants, who have often experienced the worst of humanity, to live safe, secure, and promising lives. This is about language, family, and values. Aside from fuelling wars, persecution, and climate change, our colonial and interventionist past means English is the most widely spoken language in the world - language proficiency and family support are essential to building even the most basic of lives. With that, the pressures we face today are a product of our past, so we must take responsibility, take the compliment that people turn to Britain and its values of compassion and equality when thinking of a better life, and fix the system.
Supporting the bill is the kind and compassionate thing to do. It promises to break the business model of evil people smugglers, who exploit vulnerable people with false promises and assurances about their journey. Ultimately, if people arriving on small boats are guaranteed to be denied entry, criminal smugglers will quickly find themselves out of business. Whilst many have criticised the government for ‘shifting responsibility’ and questioned its compliance with the Refugee Convention, this simply doesn’t stack up. By standing up to the criminal networks built on lies and deceit, we will encourage refugees to use legal routes to enter the country, putting an end to Channel death and trauma with the first comprehensive immigration plan put forward by any party after years of public debate.
Fairness and sustainability within the system are also at the heart of the legislation. It is fundamentally wrong that people arriving in this country must declare themselves and meet set requirements whilst those making perilous crossings on small boats do not. This bill changes this, with different outcomes for those who break the law. In addition, record high net migration numbers, reaching +606,000, will be put to sustainable levels if some people are sent to safe third countries. This will provide respite for overstretched services, allowing us to process more of the world’s most vulnerable people who arrive legally, faster, and in better conditions.
However, there is a gaping hole in the plan. Safe and legal routes need expansion for it to work as it should. Currently, these are only established for those arriving from Hong Kong, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. Clearly, people face persecution, war, and other challenges beyond these countries. There needs to be safe and legal alternatives for genuine refugees to turn to, or else boat crossings, deaths, and profits for people smugglers will all continue. It’s a big caveat, but without changing our biased favourability of these three places, the plan will not work.
The Illegal Migration Bill shouldn’t even be in question. It must be given a chance. It will rain hell on the people smugglers who exploit the vulnerable. With that, boat crossings should stop, as should the loss of life in our waters. Deportation will act as a deterrent for those who aren’t genuine refugees, but, critically, no one who does still arrive by small boat will be put at risk. That’s why the government is only striking immigration deals with safe countries, with Rwanda slander being distasteful when it is a fast-growing, dynamic democracy. However, the government must quickly realise that it is essential their plan goes alongside the expansion of legal routes for those in desperate need. It is the only way that this plan will work, and the boats will stop.
Image: Flickr/ Home Secretary Suella Braverman speaks at policing conference