by Shalini Chatterjee, a second year British student reading BA International Relations at King’s College London.
With an ever increasingly interconnected world, global images and information shared faster than ever before and a growing norm of taking into account morality in foreign policy, my opinion may be indeed unpopular. For the few nationalists like me who exist, we are afraid of this migrant crisis for many reasons. Call it xenophobic or ignorant; this article will argue that not all nationalists are illogical to fear this spread of uncontrolled migration.
To start off, I have a great respect for migration. My parents migrated to the UK and therefore I have roots and am no stranger to them. However, my parents were working professionals who went through lengthy and scrutinising application processes and also paid very large application fees. Even after arriving to the UK, regardless of having respectable degrees they struggled to find employment in their sector. This may be called a tale of ‘back in the 90s’ where immigrants were usually legal and came for economic purposes. The recent rise in immigration over the last decade has also seen mostly legal immigration. However, not from those who faced such employment struggles as most migrants came in through a system of a open borders within the EU.
Even more recently we are seeing a rise in uncontrolled, illegal immigration. People are coming from all over the world – from war torn, poor and dismantled nations such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea to name a few. I believe that we must empathise with these people and their problems. They would definitely not risk their lives to travel to Europe on the dangerous mode of transport like a rubber dinghy over choppy seas throughout the night just for the sake of moving. They bring their young children and babies, leaving behind what little belongings and life they have – this is not something you do unless you are totally desperate. Watching the news everyday we see clips of migrants jumping onto lorries near the Eurotunnel or crowding onto boats in the Mediterranean. Most recently climbing over barbed wire on the border of Hungary and Serbia and flooding stations such as in that Budapest, chanting “Germany” repeatedly.
This makes me, and much of the population, afraid. Yvette Cooper, Labour leadership candidate claims she would make it part of her policy to allow more refugees into the country, so does David Lammy. Being a proud and loyal Labour supporter this too makes me afraid. When people take the moral high ground and claim that humanity, human rights – a humane world – is necessary over borders and disputes I think it is purely for reputation. Human nature and their lust for power at home is motivating people like this to create a façade of moral correctness. I’m not sure at all how much Yvette Cooper or Dave Lammy would ideologically agree with further straining the public sector, being in the left wing party. These asylum seekers will need medical aid for illnesses from either before the journey they made here or ones they caught on the way here. Their children will strain the system too; tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of children will need places in our already poorly funded schools. Transport will become further overcrowded.
Many people refuse to accept that this influx will inevitably bring up crime rates. It is not because they foreign, but it is because they are jobless and desperate that they may turn to stealing, joining gangs, trafficking and other illegal forms of gaining money. Not only will this strain our NHS (viewpoint from the UK), our state schools, transport systems and judicial/law enforcement system – all of which are struggling due to cuts and poor funding, this will also cause an issue with housing. Portsmouth is a city in the South of the UK, a Channel 5 documentary recently showed the dire situation on their housing crisis, people who are genuinely homeless or disabled are waiting in line month after month while their condition worsens. If a small city such as Portsmouth faces this imagine the situation in London, Birmingham and Manchester – the cities most of these migrants will go following large increases in population. Our welfare system will have a much larger demand to deal with. Most of these migrants will immediately need housing, benefits and healthcare before they can start working and have a self sufficient life – that’s if they actually go on to do that.
This links back to my previous points about immigration a two decades or so ago, when you would have to have been a professional or have skills that the country needed. It was necessary to have good prospects of getting a job and contributing to the economy. Overall, it was a much more difficult process. Now, the UK being part of the EU’s free movement system mean that anyone can move into any country. My personal view is that West Europe bears the largest brunt because of this. Now that we have Non-EU migrants entering in large numbers this problem will grow. Even if they make it into Hungary, their eyes are set on Germany, France and the UK mostly. They are aware of our welfare systems and relatively high standards of living and come across as having an entitlement to them, which frankly aggravates my view on them. I do not believe that they have any entitlement on our high standards of life and/or welfare without contributing to the country first. It’s a give and take situation.
Having ranted about the migrants it may seem that I haven’t come up with anything productive and just critiqued. My view on the migrant crisis is simple: we need to better the situation in these countries that the migrants are fleeing from. Perhaps reducing the plight of these helpless people would prevent them wanting to even come to Europe in such an unsafe manner. Of course, it is easier said than done, this would require increased cooperation between the European leaders and much more unity and alignment in efforts to resolve the situation. I believe that we should stick to the Schengen agreement of only being able to claim asylum in the first country you reach as a refugee. We simply cannot go on accepting more and more uncontrolled migrants – legal or illegal.
As for a view from the UK; the EU referendum is soon approaching. The migration crisis being as large as it is also comes at a pivotal point for UK and Europe’s foreign and internal politicies. How this crisis is dealt with by the EU will be a defining deciding factor for the British public regarding whether to vote ‘in’ or ‘out’. Other EU leaders and Cameron will certainly need to treat this situation extra carefully depending on what they desire to be the outcome.