IN a letter to the Guardian, theChurch of England’s favoured broadsheet, 12 Anglican bishops expressed concern at the government’s proposal to force migrant boats back to France in the Nationality and Borders Bill now before Parliament. They condemned the ‘criminalisation of the Good Samaritan’, arguing that it was ‘an affront to justice to put the saving of lives under any sort of legal penalty’.
The Bishops of Durham, Manchester, Croydon, Bradwell, London, Dover, Gloucester, Southwark, Chelmsford, Wakefield, Bristol and the Suffragan Bishop in Europe may well speak on asylum and refuge issues within the Church, but they do not speak for the vast majority of the exasperated British public.
Not only have more than 15,000 illegal migrants crossed the Channel this year alone, with September seeing the highest numbers in any month, but immigration enforcement spending fell by £40million. Around 60 per cent of the public believe that illegal migrants should not be able to claim asylum, while only a fifth think the opposite, with a previous poll revealing that over 70 per cent say illegal Channel crossings are a ‘serious problem’.
The bishops attest that these people are refugees, and under international and maritime law help must be given ‘to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost’. This brings into discussion the interpretation of international maritime law, with the French government diverging from the British, stating that their coastguard has a legal mandate to intercept boats only if assistance is requested. However, the key provision of the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (1979) provides that the UK has a responsibility for arranging delivery of people in unsafe crafts to a place of safety, but has no obligation under international maritime law to tolerate asylum seekers going ashore. This would not preclude migrants found in British waters being taken to France, a safe country as an EU member state, which is required under Article 2 of the Treaty of on European Union to respect human rights.
One would think it might dawn on even the most intellectually challenged of Anglican bishops exactly what criminal gangs are up to by providing unseaworthy vessels so that Border Force officials are obliged to operate a British taxpayer-funded illegal immigration taxi service.
Not a bit of it. The bishops, swooning with indignation, claim that the ‘government’s increasing militarisation and securitisation of the border has failed’. In calling for a ‘reappraisal which looks again at serious multilateral approaches to refugees’ they do not offer a solution themselves, preferring instead to lecture the government about its proposals, making no distinction between legal and illegal immigration. The public, whose patience is tested by the sheer incompetence of the present so-called Conservative government, continue to be lumbered with a bench of bishops wildly out of touch on this critical issue.
These migrants may or may not be hard-working and may or may not repay in taxation what they take out in benefits. The fact remains they are here illegally and are jumping the queue before those who have spent many years having their asylum applications processed lawfully. The Church is deluded to ignore the pressures of illegal immigration on the very communities they purport to represent. Voters are told there is a housing crisis, yet up and down the land they have seen their taxes raised, the countryside concreted over, failing and inadequate public services whilst prelates pontificate about policies inseparable from the sanctimonious, skinny-latte drinking, Leftie liberal metropolitan class to which the majority belong. Perhaps these bishops could peer from under their mitres, polish their rose-tinted glasses and grasp the gravity of this illegal migrant crisis on the British population as whole.
The moral of the story is to put aside all differences and help those in need. The majority of the public expect controlled immigration and welcome immigrants from over the world who contribute to the life of this country. Yet in their siren calls to protect illegal immigrants, these bishops and the open borders brigade ignore the fact that to deter boats is to save lives. Slowing the exponential rise in illegal crossings would disrupt the criminal gangs who by their silly pronouncements they are aiding and abetting.