The World Today for July 22, 2021



Offshoring Humans

Nigel Farage, the former British member of the European Parliament who masterminded his country’s exit from the European Union, recently called the Royal National Lifeboat Institution a “taxi service for illegal immigration” when it picks up migrants in danger at sea.

Farage’s comments could represent the perspective animating the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The government’s proposed Nationality and Borders Bill would alter British law to eliminate the so-called “Nicholas Winton clause,” explained the New Statesman. Named after the Briton who helped European Jewish children in the run-up to the Second World War find a safe haven in the UK, the clause makes it illegal to facilitate asylum seekers “for gain.” They would have to be doing so for humanitarian reasons, in other words.

If the clause is removed, however, anyone helping asylum seekers enter Britain – including volunteer lifeboat operators with a proud tradition of putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives – would conceivably be criminals.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which is part of Her Majesty’s Coastguard, issued a statement saying they would continue to aid anyone in danger of drowning under maritime law and the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, according to the Financial Times.

Regardless, the clause is just one aspect of a controversial bill that would allow authorities to arrest migrants arriving in Britain and send them overseas to an undetermined location while their applications for residency in the United Kingdom are considered, the New York Times reported.

The idea of offshoring humans isn’t new but has been gaining ground recently, especially in the European Union and Australia, wrote the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill has run up against criticism from many quarters. The United Nations warned that the bill could violate the UN Refugee Convention. British dentists published a statement objecting to officials using dental X-rays to determine a migrant’s age.

Writing in the Guardian, author Daniel Trilling argued that the bill would not reform immigration but make it crueler. The legislation was designed to make the government look tough while also reducing deaths and suffering at sea by making the hurdles of sea crossing so much more difficult.

“The idea that tough deterrent measures are not only necessary to keep anxious voters happy but are ultimately in the best interest of refugees themselves is one that politicians in many parts of the rich world find appealing,” wrote Trilling.

A different story in the Atlantic magazine called Johnson the minister of chaos. This measure, however, shows he has a definite idea of order.

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