Border wars and asylum crimes
May 10, 2007 — Review
Written by Kevin Smith
When Statewatch published the pamphlet Crimes of arrival in 1995, the ‘crimes’ were a metaphorical reference to the way in which the government viewed the arrival on British soil of migrants and asylum seekers. Over a decade later, a recent publication by the same author documents how the metaphor has become a literal truth.
‘Border wars and asylum crimes’ by Frances Webber, a leading immigration barrister, examines the different methods that have been introduced by the state to criminalise asylum seekers and keep ‘the displaced, the desperate and the destitute away from the shores of Europe’.
The various means of criminalisation outlined in the publication include:
- Pushing the UK border controls back into France and Belgium so that migrants can be detained and removed before they even arrive in the country;
- Increasing the penalties for the carriers of undocumented migrants;
- Prosecuting asylum seekers using false documents to enter the country;
- Shifting the burden of proof on to asylum seekers and curtailing their legal rights;
- Stigmatising asylum seekers by making them accept humiliating and degrading conditions as a prerequisite to obtaining basic subsistence;
- Penalising those who have acted in solidarity by providing shelter or support to irregular migrants.
Border wars and asylum crimes also examines the ‘frightening continuity between the treatment of asylum claimants and that of terrorist suspects.’ Webber argues that the broadened definition of ‘terrorism’, including those suspected of support for anti-western positions or for liberation struggles not supported in the West, has meant that more groups and individuals have been politically targeted by anti-asylum measures.
Border wars and asylum crimes is available from Statewatch for £10.
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.