Julian Baggini argues on Comment is Free today that the asylum system is in need of reform, and that there is a consensus on reform, despite the wide divides that are seemingly apparent:
“People support the right for people to seek sanctuary from persecution. They also believe new arrivals should contribute to society. They agree that bogus claimants should be swiftly returned. And they also agree that newcomers should not profit at the expense of existing citizens…
A more rational response to asylum would satisfy both camps. In order to return failed asylum seekers you first have to know where they are, and you won’t find that out if you adopt a punitive approach: people will just disappear. Experience suggest that the best way to return people to their countries of origin is to provide voluntary means for them to do so. Forcing return may sound tough, but it just doesn’t work.
Nor can people contribute to society if they are denied the right to work. Indeed, without such a right, people have no choice but to be either a burden or to vanish into the shadow economy.
Those working closely on asylum issues have been pleading for such changes for years. Their arguments have not won the day because they sound “soft” when many of the public demand hard. But enlightened policies give the tough brigade more of what they want: fewer foreigners living off the official radar; fewer public health problems; more effective tracking and recording of asylum seekers; more refused asylum seekers returning home; less of a financial burden on taxpayers for those who stay but are forced to accept benefits.”
I think that this is a brilliant piece. Too often the debate is framed in terms of being nice to proper asylum seekers OR cracking down on bogus asylum seekers.
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