The government U-turn on the Dubs immigration amendment is wrongby Caroline Lucas / February 22, 2017 / Leave a comment
It wasn’t so long ago that the plight of child refugees was splashed across the front pages of every major newspaper in Britain. The experience of refugees coming to Europe, and then travelling from south to north and east to west, couldn’t be ignored. When the tiny body of Alan Kurdi was washed up on a Greek beach even the Sun called on the government to step up and deal with Europe’s “biggest crisis since World War Two.”
The government did respond—though not as quickly or strongly as many of us would have wanted. First it said it would take in 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years– and redouble efforts in the Middle East to help those in need. A few months later, Alfred Dubs’s amendment to the Immigration Act was passed into law—aiming specifically to help lone child refugees who had made it to Europe. The universal expectation at the time—voiced by charities and politicians alike—was that Britain would take 3,000 of these extremely vulnerable children.
To date, almost a year after the Dubs Amendment was passed, there have been just 200 beneficiaries of the scheme—and the government has just announced that it is scrapping it with only 150 more children set to arrive.
A number of excuses have been rolled out by ministers as to why they’re ditching their commitment to those most in need. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said that the government should avoid “incentivising” migration just after the prime minister said that Europe should be mindful of “pull factors” encouraging people to come to Europe. Such arguments don’t stack up. These children have made their way to Europe because they are fleeing terror, with 30,000 unaccompanied children arriving in Greece and Italy last year. If they weren’t faced with such extreme danger they wouldn’t be in Europe in the first place—and last year 5000 people died in the attempt. As the poet Warsan Shire puts it:
“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”
The truth is that there is no good reason for stopping this scheme. For it to continue, the government would have had to give local authorities more resources to welcome refugee children. There’s no doubt that budgets are…