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The Rwanda scheme will not end people smuggling, and our lawmakers know this

The UK government is proving heartless inside and out

By Tane Moorhouse

Image courtesy of Dannyman via Wikimedia Commons

The British and Rwandan governments have recently agreed to a deal that will see immigrants who illegally enter the UK deported to Rwanda.

The introduction of this immigration policy is of little surprise. Over recent years the Conservative Party has drawn large segments of its support from constituents who are greatly concerned by the issue of immigration control. For adherents of this axiom, rapidly expanding populations (especially when due to uncontrolled immigration) result in the inability of a nation to effectively cater for all its citizens requirements. Uncontrolled immigration, it is therefore argued, drives down standards of living due to a seemingly common-sensical, quasi-Malthusian, understanding of supply and demand principles.

Following this framework, citizens naturally stress the need to protect existing public resources such as the NHS and the educational sector from further strain. It is therefore understandable why many firmly believe that the nation should adopt an Australian styled immigration policy whereby only ‘legitimate’ refugees and seemingly beneficial economic migrants—whom, have entered the country through legal channels—can be allowed to settle.

Yet the purpose of this article is not to contest this viewpoint, nor to argue in favour of it. Instead, this article is an attempt to ensure that the current British Conservative government—an adherent follower of this viewpoint—is not allowed to neglect their duty to protect immigrants regardless of whether they are legal or illegal.

Moreover, the current Conservative government must ensure that it enables the process for immigrants & refugees to enter the UK legitimately.

In reference to the newly proposed Rwandan scheme Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented that ‘We need to encourage them [‘legitimate’ immigrants] to take the safe and legal route if they to come to this country’, before continuing to add that illegal immigration networks run by human traffickers had horrifically turned the English Channel into a ‘watery graveyard’.

Yet the governments rhetoric towards immigrants can be described as nothing less than disingenuous. For instance, it is extremely hard to believe the government’s claim that it safeguards the well-being of immigrants when numerous news sites have also highlighted how

many refugees already in Rwanda, from neighbouring countries, have been allegedly forced into conscription for the Rwanda forces.

It has even been reported that those of the LGBTQ community have faced targeted persecution. Moreover, a report by the Human Rights Watch shockingly uncovered how in 2018 ‘Rwandan security forces shot dead at least 12 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo when they protested to a cut to food rations’.

Evidently, therefore, Rwanda is not a safe destination to send immigrants. In fact, it could be argued that by willingly sending immigrants to Rwanda regardless of these conditions that the British government is in direct contradiction of article 33 (1) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. This convention states that nation-States are obliged not to return or send an immigrant/refugee to ‘the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion’.

Yet the government’s failure to help support immigrants/refugees does not just revolve around those who have illegally entered the country. Earlier this year the government failed to take any meaningful action to support Ukrainian families fleeing the Russian invasion of their country.

If these refugees do not count as legitimate, no one will.

We must also remind ourselves of the events in Afghanistan last summer. Thousands of Afghani nationals who had helped the British army fight the Taliban since 2001, were abandoned and left to be persecuted by the very regime they had helped us counter. Even the evacuation of animals was prioritised above the evacuation of many political vulnerable citizens. As former civil servant and whistle-blower Raphael Marshall stated, ‘HMG therefore transported animals which were not at risk of harm at the direct expense of evacuating British nationals and people at risk of imminent murder, including interpreters who had served with the British Army’.

These refugees’ issues are made even worse when considering that, according to the Guardian, the British government has decided not to set-up a visa processing centre in Calais ‘to avoid encouraging more refugees to travel to the city’. Thus, we cannot take seriously Home Secretary Priti Patel’s claims that the government will ‘put an end to this deadly trade in people smuggling’—via the Rwandan scheme—if the government has simultaneously refused to provide legal channels through which applicants can apply because of fears that too many immigrants will apply.

As has become abundantly clear, this government is plain and simply xenophobic. It has repeatedly shown that it will not aid those in legitimate crisis. Worse still, it readily jeopardises immigrants’ safety. It is therefore vitally important that we, the public, do not allow this administration to deceive us into believing that they have any respect for the lives of immigrants. Their policies are based solely upon disdain and negligence.

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