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Letter to Editor: On Robert Halfon and Illegal Migration Bill

Politics / Mon 13th Mar 2023 at 07:46am

Dear Editor, 

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon ought to be ashamed of his endorsement of the aptly-named Illegal Migration Bill. Aptly-named, because on the first page of the Bill the Home Secretary admits that she cannot state that its provisions are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. In other words, it could be contrary to international law.  

Suella Braverman has used the terms “invasion” and “members of criminal gangs” when referring to asylum seekers crossing the English Channel. I am old enough to remember when people such as Ms Braverman’s father, a refugee from Kenya, were referred to by fascists using the same kind of language that she now employs. Her words encourage abuse and violence aimed at asylum seekers and people who are Black and/or members of ethnic minorities. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, 1.1 million people came to live in Britain in the year ending June 2022. In the same period, 35,000 asylum seekers crossed the English Channel in small boats. Given these figures, it is hard not to conclude that the brouhaha about “small boats” whipped up by Braverman, Sunak, and other members of the Conservative government is simply a distraction from the cost-of-living crisis for which their government is in large part responsible. 

The simplest way to prevent asylum seekers risking their lives crossing the Channel would be to allow them to take the ferry. Their claims for asylum could then be assessed in Britain. The considerable backlog in assessing claims would be shortened if the government created more jobs in the relevant department, which would also have the benefit of giving a small boost to the economy. 

If Mr Halfon does not appreciate the dangers of the sort of inflammatory language employed by his Conservative colleague, then he is not fit to be a Member of Parliament. If he does appreciate those dangers, but continues to support Braverman, then he is not fit to be a Member of Parliament. He certainly cannot claim to an opponent of racism and xenophobia if he continues to support a Bill that will violate international law and remove the human rights of asylum seekers.  

Yours sincerely 

John Wake 

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6 Comments for Letter to Editor: On Robert Halfon and Illegal Migration Bill:

KB
2023-03-13 08:10:33

Excellent analysis John. The conservatives really do seem to be the party of hate and Halfon is actively embracing divisive policies. I guess it takes the focus off the mess they have made of the economy and their internal corruption.

James
2023-03-13 08:59:14

It may have escaped the author’s attention that this is the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in British history. The Conservatives only have had three women PMs but also the first PM from an ethnic minority. The Home Secretary, whom he berated is also from a ethnic minority background so his malicious insinuations that this debate is somehow designed to inflame reactions Black and ethnic minority people is pure hyperbole and simply will not wash. People know the difference between lawful and unlawful migrants. This country would do well to follow the very effective points based system deployed by Australia (a thriving democracy). By allowing people to enter without proper checks and controls we are basically facilitating the awful trafficking system and insulting those who go through the standard procedures to acquire the right to remain here. It is grossly unfair and a huge cost to the British taxpayer.

paul
2023-03-13 09:06:29

well said james,totally agree

Dan
2023-03-13 10:28:19

Over 45,000 people illegally crossed the Channel in small boats last year, putting pressure on local public services and abusing our laws and asylum protections to remain here. Many of those arriving in small boats originate from safe countries and travel through safe countries to skip the queue. That is unfair on those who come here legally and unfair on the British people who play by the rules – that is why the Prime Minister made stopping small boats one of his five priorities. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have already delivered the largest ever small boats deal with France; a new agreement with Albania so the vast majority of Albanian illegal migrants are sent home; a new, permanent, unified Small Boats Operational Command with 700 new staff; tougher immigration enforcement; a tighter system for processing modern slavery claims; and a plan to clear the initial asylum backlog by the end of 2023 and move migrants out of expensive hotels. But the Government needs to go further – doing everything possible to tackle this issue. The Prime Minister and Home Secretary are therefore pursuing a novel and ambitious approach that goes further than any previous immigration bill, making sure that if you enter the UK illegally: You will be detained immediately and removed to a safe country within weeks You will not be able to claim asylum in the UK – instead your claim will be heard in Rwanda or another safe third country. This means the 90 per cent of arrivals who claimed asylum in 2022 would no longer be able to stay in the UK You will not be able to access the modern slavery system in the UK. You will only be able to delay removal if you are required by UK law enforcement to cooperate with an investigation or prosecution You will have no ability to make spurious and late claims to frustrate removal Any human rights claims will be heard after removal, with the only exception to this being an extremely small number of claimants able to show ‘compelling’ evidence they face a ‘real risk’ of ‘serious and irreversible harm’ in the specific safe country they are being sent to. Once we have stopped the boats, we will do more to help those who genuinely need our help, by expanding safe and legal routes as we have done for Syria, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Ukraine, while introducing an annual quota on the number of refugees we can accept. The public are right to demand control of our borders and that is exactly why stopping the boats is one of the PM’s five priorities. This bill will create an asylum system able to withstand the pressures facing our country. It means the vast majority of illegal migrants will be removed, delivering the deterrent needed to stop people making these crossings. By taking these steps, of course the Government will be tough but fair, detain and remove illegal migrants, and stop the boats.

Peter
2023-03-13 10:31:18

Can John please explain how many we should allow to continue illegally enter the country and how they will be funded, Whilst we all agree with helping those in desperate need the current flow of what are clearly economic migrants can't be sustained

James
2023-03-13 13:18:38

When John Wake makes unfounded accusations of racism by Robert Halfon, has he already forgotten that the party actually found guilty of blatant racism was in fact the Labour Party, so adjudged by the independent Investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission which found Labour guilty of no less than three serious breaches of the Equality Act 2010. John Wake and his kind are in no position to lecture anyone on racism given Labour’s shameful record.

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