The news last week that the Government was to break its promise to provide accommodation and care for up to 3000 orphans or separated children from war torn lands was headline news. The so called Dubs amendment had been introduced into a Bill which was focused on limiting immigration. The amendment was introduced by Lord Alf Dubs who was himself a child immigrant as part of the Kindertransport scheme which was established by Nicholas Winton, a man who many have applauded ever since including Theresa May. Nicholas Wintons family have pleaded with the Government to reverse their decision. When the amendment was first introduced it was supported by 294 MPs and opposed by only 274 so by Brexit standards it was clearly the will of Parliament. Nevertheless Theresa May and her close ally, Amber Rudd the Home Secretary decided that after 350 children had been accommodated, that the door needed to be closed arguing that it created “a magnet for people traffickers”, and warned that the scheme for child refugees was “incentivising” migration. It is clearly difficult to make sense of this whole challenge. Some would argue that the only way of defeating people smugglers is to close down all borders. The problem with that argument is that all national borders are porous. This is a deeply disturbing element of one of the arguments adopted by people like Donald Trump. No nation state or indeed empire can close its borders. The escape of prisoners from prison camps in World War 2 is evidence of that, and few national borders are as secure as the walls of Colditz. The fact is that people smugglers and traffickers need to be stopped and border security is one way of catching them. There is no doubt that people smugglers will utilise every bit of information that makes their arguments stronger when they offer to transport desperate people across borders and through nations. However as the old adage goes, the most effective way of removing the pressure on borders is to stop throwing people into the river in the first place. We need to find ways of stopping conflict and ending the pressure on the millions of people who are displaced by war each year, rather than get fixated on a few hundred or thousand who may get as far as the UK. Those who need housing must be accommodated somewhere and compared to most other nations we have shown ourselves to be mean spirited and ungenerous when it comes to such provision. We may well have been generous in other ways, but this is a matter of humanity not politics.
A chap called Steven Shakespeare has put up an amendment accessible here which calls on the Government to:
Keep open the ‘Dubs scheme’ to resettle 3000 unaccompanied refugee children.
The Home Office has announced that the ‘Dubs scheme’ to resettle unaccompanied refugee children in the UK will close after just 350 children are helped. At the time of its creation, campaigners called for it to aid 3000 children. The UK is turning its back on the most vulnerable people in the world. The ‘Dubs scheme’ is named after Lord Dubs, who got an amendment to the Immigration Act passed last year. His amendment did not specify a number of children, but campaigners made clear that thousands of vulnerable refugee children were stranded and alone, and called on the UK government to help up to 3000 of them. Announcing that the scheme will only help 350 children – about one for every local authority – is a callous, inhumane act which leaves children at huge risk of deprivation and abuse.