Getting in a boat and going to sea is not a crime

From: Simon Hester, St Thomas’s Road, Hastings

Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:15 am
A boat that the suspected illegal immigrants were using to try to cross the Channel SUS-180131-163542001

I reply to your correspondent Wayne Arthur’s comments about the RNLI.

Getting in a boat and going to sea is not a crime. Crossing the Channel is a normal activity for yachtsmen and our fishing community. Seeking asylum is also perfectly legal.

The 1951 convention on refugees was brought in after World War 2. Never again would refugees be turned away as so many Jewish people fleeing the Nazis experienced. Fortunately, Home Secretary, Priti Patel was not around in 1951.

Mr Arthur challenged me to name a safe route to claim asylum. How about a ferry or a train? Or maybe the UK government could establish an office in France to process asylum claims? There would be no need for perilous journeys in small boats, no need to pay extortionate fees to smugglers.

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson want us all to worry about ‘hordes’ of refugees arriving to take our jobs and homes, or to overwhelm the NHS. But the ‘hostile environment’ for refugees and migrants is a straightforward exercise in scapegoating desperate people.

Without migrants the NHS, and much else, would have collapsed long ago. Mr Arthur should worry less about people coming from France and worry a lot more about entitled graduates of Eton College.

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