Ben Chu: Unethical – and it just won't work


You might have imagined that, after the disaster of Guantanamo Bay, our own Government would be alive to the ethical problems involved in setting up convenient legal enclaves on foreign soil. Not so, it seems.

But will this plan to fast-track failed migrants back to their home countries from a British "control zone" in Calais actually work? The detail of the plan has not been released. But anyone who has followed the long and torturous history of illegal cross-Channel migration and attempts by the authorities to curb it will have their doubts. Add Britain's shameful record of inhumane treatment of those awaiting deportation and there is every reason to be concerned.

But the biggest problem with the policy is what it leaves out. The new tough-talking Immigration minister Phil Woolas ignores the bigger picture regarding cross-Channel migration.

Life is no picnic for the thousands of young men from Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa who cluster around Calais and other French ports looking for an opportunity to slip into Britain.

Why does Mr Woolas not commission some research into why so many are willing to put themselves through such squalor in order to come to Britain? Why do they not want to claim asylum in France? Is it the ease with which they can gain employment here? Is it the ties of family, friendship and culture? And what incentives might persuade them not to make such a perilous journey?

But Mr Woolas – and the Government – would seem to prefer building bigger fences than answering such crucial questions. Like the catastrophic "war on drugs", the war on migrants is all about hitting supply. Demand never seems to get a look-in.