Are Safe Routes The Solution? You’ve Got To Be Joking.


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Of the variety of proposals put forward for solving the Channel crisis, two stand out. The aim of both policies is to dissuade those (mostly working-age men) now prepared to pay ruthless crooks huge amounts of money to risk their lives in unseaworthy vessels to get to the UK.

The path taken by the government under four Home Secretaries (five if you count Suella Braverman twice) has been to persuade would-be migrants and asylum seekers not to set out and travel illegally for the UK from a safe country like France. The intended message being that to do so will result in your being returned or removed to your country of origin, or to a safe third country willing to take you, such as Rwanda.

The aim of this strategy has been to stem the tide of illegal Channel-crossings, to discourage asylum shopping and ultimately to break the business model of the criminal traffickers. It hasn’t worked because very few of those who make it here illegally are ever removed. They are here for good. 

The other approach, favoured by liberal politicians, migrant support groups, the bulk of the House of Lords – including prelates like the Archbishop of Canterbury – and many in the mainstream media, is an asylum system that includes ‘safe routes’. The absence of such routes, they say, forces asylum seekers into the arms of the traffickers. 

Dare we say, there are a number of serious flaws with such a policy? Where would application centres be set up? If they are to be at our overseas diplomatic missions, which ones? All of them? It’s all very well to lodge applications online but would interviews also take place online? How secure would this be? Would there be a limit on numbers? Proponents of such a scheme also gloss over the fact that since 2015, the UK has provided refuge for some half a million people, including those fleeing the war in Ukraine and escaping from tyrannical treatment in Hong Kong. There have of course also been thousands of Afghans, Syrians and others from a host of countries and regions of the world. In recent years, the UK has resettled more people (with properly worked-out schemes aimed at the most vulnerable) than the whole of the EU.

So how might a safe route scheme work? It so happens that the United States went down this path when special measures brought in to prevent the spread of Covid-19, lapsed. 

Initially, the ploy seemed to work. In June, the number of ‘alien’ border apprehensions was at its lowest since the Biden Administration came to office. As our friends at Numbers USA point out, the number (over 100,000) was still double the historical levels, nevertheless, the initial signs seemed propitious and were greeted with glee by safe routes proponents. Here’s the evidence of the effectiveness of safe routes, they said.

But, lo and behold, in July, the numbers shot up again. Not only had those who had applied for and been granted asylum before arriving at the border been admitted but the number of ‘aliens’ pitching up at the border illegally also shot up; as the Washington Post reports. The effect of the establishment of ‘safe and legal routes’ has not been to end illegal migration or asylum seeker flows, it has simply supplemented the illegal flows. For some reason, there hasn’t been a murmur from the safe-routes lobby about the July figures.

If you have enjoyed reading this preview of the weekly newsletter, you can read the full version here.

You can sign up the newsletter here and will receive an email copy of the newsletter every Friday as soon as it is released.

4th August 2023 - Newsletters

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