How to Bend the Rules in Britain?

The refugee business is big in Britain, involving many professions: lawyers, service personnel, RNLI, hoteliers, carers, among others. In my opinion, it will never be allowed to end.

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We see that there really isn’t a day when illegal immigrants to Britain are not dying in the English Channel, having been coerced, most often forcibly, into small rubber boats by criminal gangs for money. Sometimes they are treated as modern slaves, as cheap labor, but most often, in search of or the promise of a better life.

They come, crossing over with whatever they wear, without any baggage, with only a faint hope that they can find refuge, perhaps a hostel, a prison camp, or a place where they can lay their heads after days, sometimes months, of leaving their countries, crossing mountains and seas. It is generally a perilous journey, but they believe it is worth it.

Some come as drug mules, others come as genuine refugees, fearing persecution due to race, religion, political opinion, or even to escape torture, sex discrimination, among other reasons. But they are all coerced, often over days, if not weeks, by unscrupulous money grabbers who treat them as pawns for their own ulterior motives.

The refugee business is big in Britain, involving many professions: lawyers, service personnel, RNLI, hoteliers, carers, among others. In my opinion, it will never be allowed to end.

It brings in work, it brings in cash, it provides cheap labor. Does it help Brits to let off steam?

What is there in Britain for migrants?

For many so-called asylum seekers, the motivation to take this risk is because they have an insatiable desire to change their lives, often for the better. Most often, their motive is to make money, to turn their lives around. They are young, vibrant, eager, willing, and wanting to seek a challenge. To cross seas, continents, mountains, and rivers is an adventure. Why not?

The route through the English Channel by dinghies is seen by migrants as less risky than other options such as hiding in Channel ferries, postal vans, trucks, containers, or even trains – all modes of transport tried over years and now not abandoned. For people smugglers, it is good business for the number of migrants crossing, especially during the high summer season.

The reasons for immigration, politically too, have changed over the years.

Robert Jenrick, M.P., who resigned as former Immigration Minister in PM Sunak’s Conservative Government, has now summarized the reason for rushing through legislation in passing the Rwanda Refugee Migrant Bill and for the token airlifting of a single volunteer asylum seeker on the first flight, as a symbolic gesture days before the Local Government election on 2 May 2024. The core substance of the legislation has not changed; the migrant boats reaching the shores of England can hardly be stopped, only curtailed, but at a cost.

Another dissident, Suella Braverman, M.P., who resigned as Home Secretary from PM Sunak’s Government, has also expressed her opinion. A major reform championed by her has significantly reduced a controversial category of immigration into Britain.

Her claim is that recent changes significantly limiting an influx of foreign students’ family members have slashed immigration numbers, according to new data. The number of dependents has fallen by a whopping 80%, dropping from 32,000 in the first quarter of 2023 to just 6,700 in the first quarter of 2024. The number of foreign student applications has also fallen by 15%, from 39,900 to 35,000 this year. She stated: “International students are welcome, but there are too many coming into the UK. We need to scrap the Graduate Visa Route if we are serious about cutting overall migration.” It’s okay for her in Parliament, but tell it to University Halls, and it’s a different matter entirely. Universities are struggling for student admissions, say others.

Immigration has always been a hot potato with the Tories.

I remember the late Hon. Enoch Powell and his famous “Rivers of Blood” oration on 20 April 1968, to a meeting of the Conservative Political Centre in Birmingham, the Midlands. The speech used controversial language and vibrant imagery to strongly oppose mass immigration into Britain, particularly from the Commonwealth, raising the specter of a “race war.” Where is the so-called “Race War” other than the “stop and search” of Black people, which for some time was the political flavor?

The good thing that I have witnessed over half a century living in Britain is that Brits often “get hot under the collar” and calm down when they have let off steam.

This is the British way of life, which many in Sri Lanka don’t understand or appreciate. Strangely, it always comes to light after a prolonged winter, with sanity prevailing in early summer.

Yet, given a visa, who is the Sri Lankan who would not want to come to England?

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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