Letter: Immigration

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The Independent Online
Sir: It may be laudable to prosecute agents who abet and often abuse illegal immigrants ("Gangs move into people smuggling", 27 November). But genuine asylum seekers also use, and sometimes require, the services of agents, who may provide the only way for the asylum seeker to flee to safety.

This is a problem caused in part by the UK government. During the last several years the Government has enforced carrier liability fines against airlines and more recently ferry companies for transporting undocumented asylum seekers and economic migrants here; it has imposed visa restrictions, making it more difficult for asylum seekers to travel legally to the UK; and it has detained thousands of asylum seekers who arrive here with false travel documents. An agent, no matter how unsavoury, may be the only option available under these measures created by the Home Office to deter asylum seekers.

We should also remember that had not illegal agents and false documents existed prior to and during the Second World War, today's Jewish diaspora would hardly exist.


Director of Public Affairs

Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture

London NW5