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  • Writer's pictureAmy Nickell

The 'war' against irregular migration is costing us ethically and economically

Earlier today, I was asked: 'After a record-breaking day in the Channel with numbers hitting 40k since Rishi Sunak announced he would stop the boats, are warnings of a migrant crossing surge about to be proven right? What is the best strategy to stop the boats?'

The best strategy to 'stop the boats' is to stop believing the myth that deterrence works. Historical data and expert analysis show that the more money spent on deterrence, the higher the number of arrivals soars.

According to research from the Refugee Council, policies focused on deterrence, such as increased border security and harsher penalties, have never effectively reduced the number of people attempting to cross. Instead, they often push migrants to take more dangerous routes, increasing the risk of deaths at sea. This is not just a matter of numbers, but of human lives. Like the war on drugs, the war on illegal migration has failed.

The most effective and humane way to address illegal migration is to establish safe and legal routes and welcome our fair share of refugees. Evidence from countries like Canada and Germany strongly supports this approach, showing that creating legal pathways for migrants significantly reduces the pressure on illegal routes and helps manage migration more effectively. Legal avenues for asylum seekers uphold human rights and allow quicker integration and contribution to the economy, rather than indefinite stays in overcrowded, inappropriate accommodations like the Bibby Stockholm, and millions into the pockets of people smugglers.

As the temperature rises due to climate change, we can expect a higher surge of displaced people. The World Bank projects that climate change could force over 200 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050. Therefore, achieving Net Zero is not just a goal, but a necessity to mitigate the impacts of climate change and help keep people safe where they are. This includes a crucial role for foreign aid in supporting vulnerable regions. According to the United Nations, foreign aid plays a significant role in addressing the root causes of migration, such as poverty, conflict, and environmental degradation, thereby reducing the pressure on people to migrate in the first place.

The best approach to managing irregular migration is to establish safe and legal migration routes, strive for Net Zero to combat climate change, and maintain robust foreign aid.

Currently, it is the Lib Dem manifesto that offers an expanded, properly funded resettlement scheme, a new scheme for unaccompanied child refugees and a policy that would reunite unaccompanied children in Europe with families in the UK.

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