As the next general election looms, the Government is determined to be seen as “tough” on immigration as inhumanely possible, specifically targeting those arriving via small boats and so-called ‘safe countries’. If the announcement of the Rwanda plan wasn’t enough, the Government is committed to scapegoating and criminalising people arriving in the UK.
From cracking down on so-called “quirks” in modern slavery legislation based upon unfounded claims of people making fraudulent claims of trafficking, to stating that anyone who arrives via small boats will not be able to make an asylum claim.
The rhetoric is becoming more and more focused on the concept of the ‘illegal asylum seeker’. While of course this is bizarre and factually incorrect, it symbolises a move away from any remnants of humanity. It appears the Government is moving more towards an Australian-style system, specifically the introduction of indefinite detention for those that are labelled as having arrived “illegally”.
The emphasis and blame in current migration discourse should not be on those seeking refuge or a new life, but on policy makers creating the situation by restricting the ability to claim asylum, reduction of safe routes and the role in migration push factors.
At the Migrants’ Rights Network, we categorically stand against detention in all its forms. We are incredibly concerned about many of the stances that politicians and even colleagues in the charity sector are taking on normalising detention. By accepting detention even in a time-limited manner, we reinforce punishment. But we know migration is not, and never has been a crime. Threatening people seeking safety with indefinite imprisonment is wrong, and we must resist it.