09 July, 2009


Griffin plays the Camp of Saints card

The Righteous are going to have a field day with this. Whether Griffin's rhetoric was entirely wise — suggesting in effect that it might be salutary to sink a couple of African migrant boats in the Mediterranean pour encourager les autres — remains to be seen.

But it certainly serves to bring the issue into the open. Currently the response of European governments to clandestine entry is hypocritical, be it in the face of pitiful boatloads of hopeful Africans beaching on the Canaries, Lampedusa or Malta, Africans climbing over each other trying to scale the border fences of Ceuta and Melilla, or the hundreds of hopefuls camping out at Calais waiting on the chance of sneaking into the Promised Land of England in the back of a lorry.

The effective response of European governments is neither one thing nor the other: neither enforcement of our borders nor the opening of them. For public consumption, the rhetoric is one of immigration controls and impenetrable borders. The reality is a border which is little more than a rather dangerous obstacle course; if the aspiring clandestine manages to negotiate it, he's accepted, as if he were no more than a successful contestant in a reality TV show winning a prize.

That is the unsatisfactory and ultimately self-destructive contradiction which Griffin in his heavy-handed way has highlighted. It is not, as the Righteous would have it, the hateful racist intransigence of the European authorities that puts immigrant lives at risk. It is their two-faced indecisiveness.

Either we open our borders — close down the passport controls and allow anyone who wishes to live and work here to arrive openly by safe organized public transport. Or we enforce our border controls. What does that mean? It means that when someone manages to breach the controls, by clandestine entry, by visa fraud or by turning up on the beach, then they should be sent back.

If they claim asylum, intern them until their claim can be judged. If for one reason or another they cannot be promptly repatriated, intern them until they can be sent home, indefinitely if necessary. Why all this internment? Illegal migrants come to Europe almost entirely for economic reasons. If you wish to deter them, you must ensure that they derive no economic benefit from the exercise. Firstly by ensuring the certainty of timely removal. Secondly by ensuring that while they are here they earn nothing.

The existing arrangement boils down to:
— No, sorry, you can't come in.
— Oh, you've managed to sneak in anyway. Tsk! Tsk! Look, you shouldn't really be here, but if you speak to that nice man over there he'll give you a job at £1.50 an hour, no questions asked.
— Er, next!
Hypocrisy, in other words.

One thing or the other. Open the borders or secure them. To paraphrase 1066 and All That, Griffin is "Right but Repulsive". Sooner that than "Wrong but Wromantic".

Afterthought (10 July)

The following post in the Guardian Unlimited Talk thread on the subject* is informative:
MajorWhipple - 09:55am Jul 9, 2009 GMT (#68 of 144)

    20.Mar.09: 17 people have drowned and 50 are missing after a rubber boat carrying them from Libya to Italy sank in the vicinity of the Tunisian island of Kerkennah. 33 passengers were saved by the Tunisian Navy after receiving distress calls from some of the passengers. (source: lasiciliaweb.it) noborder.org
    29.Mar.09: at least 200 migrants drowned after their boat sunk in bad weather three hours after it left Janzour, 15 km west of Tripoli. only 20 of the 257 people on board the ship survived the accident. According to the Libyan authorities 100 bodies of the migrants washed up on the beaches west of Tripoli. (source: reuters) noborder.org
    16.Feb.09: at least 21 North African migrants, drowned in sight of bathers as their overcrowded boat capsized 20 metres off a beach near the town of Teguise on Lanzarote. Swimmers and surfers tried to reach the migrants as they struggled in rough waters before Coast Guard boats arrived. Six people were rescued and 18 bodies have been recovered while three more had been sighted in the water. (source: Reuters AlertNet) noborder.org
It was their screams I heard that night...

    19.Feb.09: According to the Spanish marine Rescue Service the body of another migrant has been retrieved from waters off Lanzarote, bringing to 22 the number drowned when a boat capsized 20 metres off a beach near the town of Teguise on the 16th of February. (source: The Canadian Press) noborder.org



I think I should provide a warning with this next image...but it's what Mr Griffin would like to see more of: http://blogs.lavozdegalicia.es/carlosagullo/files/2008/07/patera_1-1.jpg

I could go on, but it's far too depressing.

This is not some evil Nazi fantasy eagerly pounced upon by a waiting liberal media. This is what is already happening on the seas around Europe. And when the Righteous have finally recovered from their wankfest over Griffin's choice of language, it will still be going on.

Clandestine access to Europe in this way is not only dangerous, it is also expensive. In most cases, for those with plausible documentation entry via normal scheduled public transport is both safer and cheaper. And yet people still take the harder route. Out of desperation certainly. But also because there is still a good chance of success. And a golden prize. Get to Europe and they will not, in practice, throw you out. Whether you remain clandestine or go the asylum route, you can disappear, work, support your family back home. You might even receive benefits and, having ground the ineffectual European authorities down over time, ultimately the Holy Grail of residence and the right to import your family. Oh yes, people will take a risk for that.

Some will argue that an open-door policy is the answer. That's a discussion for another time. But since Europe has chosen a policy of immigration control, of restricted and qualified settlement only, then it needs to address the consequences. One of the consequences is that the desperate will resort to desperate means to circumvent those controls.

If the policy is to be that borders must be defended, then the only consistent, moral and humane response is that "desperate means" must have minimal chance of success. Desperate people will pool the family's small wealth and pay thousands to unreliable traffickers to drive a young man across the Sahel and the Sahara, where they risk being abandoned at the trafficker's whim, to make a risky sea crossing to the Promised Land in boats both unsuitable and unseaworthy. They do this because there is a real chance of success. If 30% eventually get through, the game is worth the candle. But if only 0.1% get through...

I doubt whether Griffin would really wish to see migrant boats sunk by the Navy; his language is more likely to be hard rhetoric. Short of a true Camp of the Saints situation — an outcome not beyond the bounds of plausibility in my opinion — I doubt that the public would stand for such a policy in any case. But I'll leave the final interpretation of Griffin's words to the drooling hordes of the Righteous since they seem to be so sure of themselves.

What is clear is that a firmer response is required. The practice introduced by Berlusconi, that darling of the Left, of intercepting migrant boats at sea and towing them back to Libya, is a good start. But firm action in returning landed illegal migrants is also needed. Only if the message gets back that even if you get to Europe you will be repatriated, forcibly if necessary, will the tragic and unnecessary deaths described in the GUT post quoted above cease.

Love 'em or loathe 'em, the likes of Griffin, Maroni, Bossi and Berlusconi at least have the balls to face up to reality.

* I haven't linked to the thread. GUT threads are unpredictably evanescent, and if you are reading this more than a few days after its posting the GUT thread may (or may not according to moderator whim) have disappeared. If you are quick, you might find it under UK News -> The EU should sink boats carrying illegal immigrants...

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