The term “genuine” asylum seeker/ refugee, once exclusively used by the right-wing media, has become more prevalent.
This term has become so common because our government has failed to create safe routes so, they have taken to inciting feelings of suspicion towards those seeking refuge and protection. By discrediting asylum seekers, they can divert attention from the failures of their policies and systems, and lay the blame on people seeking safety instead.
Through the label of “genuine”, the legitimacy of an asylum claim is undermined even before it has been submitted. It is yet another damaging generalisation that prevents them from being seen as individuals with their own experiences, and instead as one homogenous group who are perceived as being innately dishonest.
It also ignores the extremely high threshold the UK government sets for someone to prove they are deserving of protection, and refugee status. This burden of proof has left many people in detention, abandoned or condemned to die because their reasons for sanctuary have been dismissed as not being “genuine”. Making baseless claims over a vulnerable person’s legitimacy in seeking safety or a new life passes judgement and encourages hostile trials by the media.
Such hostile language dismisses the many people failed by the government’s asylum systems and border policies. It does not consider the suffering, trauma and danger people are put through when making treacherous journeys to other countries. Claims made by politicians, the media and on social media that people seeking safety are not genuine have no basis in fact, law or morality. It inherently seeks to excuse racism or discrimination between people arriving in the U.K. and continue an atmosphere of division.
We also have to analyse when and with whom these claims are used in conjunction with, which is often young single men of Colour. This ultimately raises questions around established concepts of masculinity and race, and begs the question of who is worthy of protection in the West.