‘Immigration is number one concern of most British citizens’
During recent years the number of migrants and asylum seekers coming to Europe has significantly grown, and this puts a strain on EU countries. A German refugee campaign has been overshadowed by the abuse scandal at theBurbach refugee shelterin Western Germany. Two security workers filmed and photographed themselves using their mobile phones, one of the photos shows an asylum seeker lying on the floor, the boot of one guard pinning down his neck. This could be compared to the same kind of abuses in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. RT discussed the problem of the growing refugee influx to the EU, particularly to the UK, caused by the instability in the Middle East with the chairman of the conservative Bow Group Ben Harris-Quinney.
RT:Let's start with the abuse scandal at the Burbach refugee shelter in Western Germany. Do you find it a cause for concern that asylum seekers are being treated in this way?
Ben Harris-Quinney: Yes, of course. Any treatment of asylum seekers or any other citizens that results in injury or serious harm, I think, is to be avoided. However, all the European countries have a very difficult job in managing immigration. Unfortunately, as long as the numbers that are wanting to come to predominantly Western and Northern European countries are so high; these incidents will continue to occur.
RT:The UK has one of the largest numbers of asylum seekers in the EU. Do you think it has a responsibility to take in people whose lives would be endangered at home?
BHQ: I think the policy that the UK should adopt, where regards asylum seekers as opposed to immigrants, is that if the UK is demonstrably the first safe haven that an individual reaches on their departure, on the journey away from the country where they feel they have experienced danger, then that should be appropriate. But I don’t think it is appropriate, for example, for asylum seekers to pass through Italy, France and then come to the UK because then the question has to be asked why they did not seek asylum in those countries first.
RT:Do you think the UK government stance on this reflects public opinion?
BHQ: That is changing very significantly. The situation we have now in the UK, it’s not an over-exaggeration to say that immigration is the number one concern of most citizens. There is a huge amount of disagreements in the British public at large with the level of immigration that has taken place in the UK over the last 20 years, which has frankly led to a lot of communities becoming completely unrecognizable in a very short space of time. Immigration to the UK, and that includes asylum seekers because it is not limited to that, has been too great and too fast. The UK government and the various political parties which pitch a position to government have begun to understand that. But anyway, we are really close to providing a serious solution to it, particularly, for example, if we continue to have open borders with other EU countries.
RT:This year alone, around 3,000 migrants have drowned trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. Do you think the EU should be doing more to prevent these increasingly frequent deaths?
BHQ: I think what the EU should be doing, particularly when it is clear that there are migrants coming from specific channels, is to attempt to prevent those migrants if they are indeed illegal migrants from ever departing on that dangerous journey. It needs to be made clear that if this is a cause for illegal immigration, then they really have no claim to gain residence in the countries they are trying to get to and they risk their lives to make this journey, and therefore, should not begin it. With regards to general asylum seekers, if the nation that they are travelling to - it’s the first safe haven they come to - then safe passage should be assured by the respective countries.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.