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Brexit cannot cure Immigration

The greatest of all factors driving the campaign to leave the EU appears to be immigration. I use the verb ‘cure’ in the title because immigration seems to be widely perceived as a disease. The moral issues of immigration are not going to receive attention here. The sole objective of this article is to explain why Brexit cannot act as a magic wand to end immigration into the UK. If anything, leaving the EU could result in more immigration. Why? I will explain as simply as possible and will give references below so that you can find out the full story for yourself.

In 1951 the Geneva Convention gave the right to all persons fleeing persecution in their own countries to seek asylum in other countries. The Geneva Convention was a product of the United Nations and nothing to do with the EU. Many countries throughout the world signed up to the Geneva Convention.

Under the terms of the Geneva Convention refugees (i.e. people seeking refuge) can breach immigration rules and cannot be penalised for illegal entry or stay.

In Britain, the UK Borders Act 2007 gave the British authorities the right to automatically deport some foreign nationals: ones imprisoned for specific offences and ones who have been imprisoned for more than a year. These people are only a very tiny minority of immigrants.

The Geneva Convention is enshrined in international law so leaving the EU cannot not change anything for the UK. Anyone arriving here seeking asylum must be given asylum until their case has been heard. After that, an asylum seeker can only be deported if their case is found to be faulty. Otherwise, each refugee must be granted asylum – and that means the right to remain in the UK.

In the EU the final (2013) version of the Dublin Regulation (a piece of EU law) gave every member state of the EU the right to return an asylum seeker to the first member state at which the person entered the EU. The effect of this has been that there are far more asylum seekers in the border states of the EU. This was part of the intention of the Dublin Regulation as it was hoped that this would cause the border states to ensure the security of their borders.

The recent migrant crisis was not anticipated and could not have been foreseen. However, the combination of the EU regulations and the additional border agreement - the Le Touquet Agreement - between Britain and France has given the UK a great deal of protection from the current influx of immigrants as the British border authorities are able to operate on French soil. In the event of a Brexit, this arrangement would almost certainly be terminated by the French. They would have absolutely no reason to keep it. All of the migrants currently held in France would then move to Britain and we would have no choice but to keep them until the case of each and every one had received a full hearing. There can be no doubt that anyone fleeing Syria, along with many other war-torn countries, cannot be denied refugee status. That means that all of these people would have the right to reside in the UK. 

If the UK were to leave the EU, we would no longer have the protection of the Dublin Regulation. We already have a land border with Ireland and, if Scotland separates from the UK (probable with a Brexit), we will have a second land border with an EU state. Anyone entering the UK will not then be able to be sent back: they will have an absolute right to remain here in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

There can be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we would have far more immigrants here if we were not in the EU.

Bottom line: Brexit cannot cure immigration into the UK.


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