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Asylum seekers

It’s madness to send back migrants

Rescued migrants landing on the Kent coast in August. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

“Nothing makes sense,” says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Employers on the east coast of England are scanning the horizon, desperate for migrant workers willing to “pick fruit, kill turkeys, staff hotels or care for elderly people”. At the same time British politicians “howl with horror” at boatloads of just such people as they come ashore, “desperate to offer their services”. The 24,000 asylum seekers who have landed so far this year are seen as a “new Viking horde or a Norman conquest” – there is something ominous in people arriving on beaches rather than coming through Terminal 5. 

“Turn the boats around,” cries Home Secretary Priti Patel. Send them to “Albania or the Falklands”. Blame the French. Blame the Border Force. Blame “those snowflakes in the lifeboat service”. But most of these refugees are by definition middle-class, having paid dearly for their journey. They include “doctors, engineers, academics and nurses; builders, cooks and farmers”. These are occupations Britain badly needs and has traditionally welcomed. Why are the 650 Chinese millionaires who arrived this year a “boost to Britain”, while an Afghan doctor is a threat to the British way of life? Growth needs immigrants. Denying ourselves access to them is a “sure sign of a state gone mad”.