Why do Calais migrants travel illegally?

The new Nationality and Borders Act targets people who come to the UK “illegally” and “dangerously’” – in small boats or lorries, for example.

But in practice the UK offers next to no legal ways for refugees to get here:

  • Less than 1% of refugees are able to use resettlement schemes.(1)
  • Persecuted people are not issued with identity documents, and passports get lost in war zones; so being forced to travel illegally is part and parcel of being a refugee.

The Refugee Convention bans countries from penalising refugees for travelling illegally (2) – because of the above

The UK government decides who can travel legally by issuing visas, but this is not how asylum is supposed to work; it should be based on each individual’s need for protection, not the political whim of those in power.

Remember, no one would travel by dangerous means if they had a safe alternative option. They do not get in flimsy dinghies for fun.

To stigmatise innocent people for making these dangerous journeys is to stigmatise them for the terrible wrongs they have suffered. It is quite simply victim blaming.

For all these reasons, the Nationality and Borders Act is fundamentally morally and legally wrong. It is not too late to stop the harm and suffering it will cause, so it is essential that we fight it. Share this post if you agree.

(1) www.unhcr.org/uk/resettlement.html
(2) Article 31(1) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees


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