Sajid Javid criticised for “genuine” asylum seekers comment
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday January 16 2019
A 13% increase in homelessness and destitution, 658,000 people surviving on food banks, years of austerity causing real hardship to many families and our NHS in crisis. Nonetheless, it was the arrival of 220 migrants which home secretary Sajid Javid considered the national ‘crisis’ facing Britain and warranted his early return from a safari trip in South Africa. Mr Javid arrived at the border to appear on camera where he issued a strong warning to migrants wishing to arrive to the UK that their undertaking will be unsuccessful and even went as far to suggest that the migrants are not “genuine” asylum seekers.
The rhetoric used by Sajid Javid highlights a process of appeasement to the rising right wing anti-immigration narratives with ministers such as Theresa May and Phillip Hammond simultaneously referring to the “dangers” of migrants and the need to “protect our borders.” Within the wider context, Brexit is looming and Britain is facing the biggest constitutional transition post World War II, whilst the ongoing bloody Syrian civil war has resulted in a mass humanitarian and refugee crisis in Europe. Parallels can be drawn between the anti-immigration rhetoric used by Leave campaigners and Islamophobic sentiments. Being Muslim or perceived Muslim from Syria and the association of Syria with ISIS frequently enables right wing groups to capitalise on Islamophobic tropes that consider Muslims a threat to national security and being inherently violent. The hatred and resistance to the EU and immigration is therefore expressed as an implicit and explicit intolerance of foreigners as Muslims, which has successfully propelled the leave campaign and serves to normalises Islamophobia.
International institutions such as the UN and EU were created in an effort to ensure that the atrocities of World War II could never be repeated yet the sentiment and mission behind state collaboration and the responsibility to protect has declined in the wake of Brexit. Sajid Javid’s priority of “protecting borders” was apparent when he authorised the deployment of two of the border forces’ largest vessels which appears to be an extreme measure directed at border security and a questionable use of military resources.
We have to question the humanity when arbitrary borders take precedent to human life. Mr Javid’s repeated warning to migrants that their journey will not be successful and frequent use of criminalising language combined with a dubious and ill-informed analysis resulted in him undermining the authenticity of asylum seekers. Indeed, he claimed that a “genuine” asylum seeker would have sought asylum in their nearest safe country. The inference here is that the migrants are disingenuous and have sinister motives for reaching the UK which ultimately further perpetuates fearmongering and hostility. The usual negative stereotype hurled at migrants is that they have arrived to make use of the welfare state, the so-called “welfare tourism” which is frequently presented in mainstream tabloid newspapers despite a wide array of politicians and academics refuting this as a myth. People flee their homes for a plethora of reasons such as war and disaster, religious or political persecution, and the risk of punishment of contravening social and cultural norms. It is illogical for people to risk their own lives as well as their families, make an arduous dangerous journey to receive £37.75 per week (an additional £3 if you are pregnant or have a baby). Immigrants are net contributors to the economy yet evoke a disproportionate emotional response compared to other much bigger pressures on Government income like corporate tax evasion & minimisation.
Furthermore, the assumption that France is the nearest safe country completely overlooks the dangerous and deteriorating conditions of the refugee camps, especially for children. The Guardian reported that “ the police have conducted regular raids on the encampments where they have destroyed tents, disposed of people’s personal belongings and even pepper sprayed families and young unaccompanied minors in attempts to disperse them.” Therefore, it is no wonder that migrants opt out of France for fear of being mistreated. the U.K. is also seen as a natural country to migrate to due to our historic links with predominantly Muslim countries (200 years of colonies and overseas territories and dominions) and the fact the countries of origin for many immigrants and asylum seekers are ones where English (as opposed to other European languages) is widely spoken. Moreover, it makes more sense to arrive in Britain if the migrant has relatives that have already settled here in the UK.
Additionally, a comparative analysis shows that in 2017 England has received 26,350 asylum seekers in comparison to over 200,00 in Italy and Greece with Germany reporting the highest number of asylums claims of 198,255. Furthermore, if one considers Jordan’s intake of 740,160 refugees or Turkey’s accommodation of 3.5 million refugees in 2017, it is difficult to justify the “breaking point” narratives.
It is alarming to see the extent of the anti-immigration hysteria dominating public discourse. Our politicians have a responsibility to protect its citizens from Islamophobic hate crime, as well as the wider responsibility to protect people fleeing persecution. Politicians also need to acknowledge their role in fuelling tropes and fostering division as the alleged burden of the migrant crisis in the UK is nothing more than collective prejudice that has manifested into Islamophobia and anti-immigration stances in the dawn of Brexit.