Boris Johnson describes himself as appalled by Wednesday’s Channel tragedy (a tragedy at sea kills dozens on the deadliest day of the Channel crisis, November 25), and allegedly accused France of letting human traffickers ‘get away with murder’, but it was the asylum policies of his government and previous governments that created the conditions under which trafficking can flourish and tragedies like this one. -this can happen.
There are no other options than the “irregular” ones through which asylum seekers can now enter this country. The Home Office requires physical arrival in the UK before an asylum claim can be made. Its current nationality and borders bill, by criminalizing all means of entry other than official and impossible to access, clearly aims to put an end to the search for asylum in this country. This will not, however, put an end to the desperate attempts of the displaced to reach our shores.
The government’s outrage at the Channel traffic is entirely cynical. Its much-vaunted policy of refoulement hardly suggests that the safety and well-being of asylum seekers is of concern to the Home Office. On the contrary, pushback – in other words, reverse traffic – will make the Channel look even more like the Mediterranean.
Aditya Chakrabortty is right to recall that Folkestone, with its works of art in the Folkestone Museum, hosted refugees during the First World War (Alone, Fear and Facing Exile: The Test of a Boy Charges the System of British asylum, 25 November).
The generous tradition continued into World War II, with Folkestone Library journals revealing that on May 20, 1939, Czech refugees, feeling “well cared for”, thanked with gratitude the welcoming committee – headed by ‘above by the Mayor and Vicar of Hythe – for organizing an incredible assistance package. This included daily tips, free weekly movie entertainment, English lessons, toiletries, teas, music nights, inexpensive laundry facilities, newspapers and books, as well as food and accommodation. in a guest house.
Your report (‘Performative cruelty’: UK’s worst treatment of refugees ever, according to charity, 22 November) describes the people of Folkestone continuing to quietly support newcomers and help them adjust to life. life in UK. This is a welcome contrast to the performative cruelty inflicted during the Covid-19 pandemic by the state at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, a sad indictment against the hostility of the current government. This traumatizes the refugees, who should continue, like my Czech refugee grandfather, to contribute to British society and the economy.
Throughout the 19th century, British governments pursued an open door policy under which no immigrant was refused entry. It was not until 1905 that the Aliens Act was introduced. Even this included provisions for immigrants seeking admission to avoid punishment or persecution on religious or political grounds. In such cases, “permission to land should not be refused on the sole ground of lack of resources or the likelihood of it becoming a charge on fares.” In other words, asylum should be granted to these refugees and paid for out of public funds. It is difficult to see the progress we have made in over a hundred years.