Aloha Tech Writers®

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Migrant Smugglers and Refugee Classifications in the U.K.

The mid-East migrant crisis has skeezy, external facilitators, who are not only eluding the international community but making huge profits off the backs and lives of all kinds of migrants.

NPR’s Renee Montagne1 astutely called these smugglers “functional entrepreneurs,” and it appears there is no better term.

Montagne interviewed the International Organization for Migration’s William Lacy Swing (Director General), who spoke candidly about what turns out to be a $30 billion dollar migrant smuggling industry.

Swing said the smugglers are “[…] third behind the international trafficking of drugs and guns […] they have a total disregard for human life. They are, really, the ‘travel agents of death.'”

Historically, dinghys and rafts are guided from the Middle East or Africa and, if they don’t sink, are parked on shores without any supervision. Swing believes the human smugglers are part of international criminal rings, and that the international community has failed to arrest these “big fish.”

He added:  “[…] with our strict visa laws, and building walls and trying to keep people out, we’re basically subsidizing the smuggling trade, because we’re pushing them [refugees] into the arms of the smugglers, and this needs to change.”

In 2008, in the UK,2 a refugee was defined in legal terms as a person with a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion…” […] “Asylum seekers are not included […] as they do not have the same statuses as refugees and are not a refugee category. Refused asylum seekers (people with Appeal Rights Exhausted, also known as unsuccessful/failed/destitute asylum seekers), are also excluded for the same reasons. However, the entitlements and support for both of these groups are increasingly becoming more complex and there is a case for a separate, future piece of work exploring similar themes.”

The UK has tried to “disentangle” and “distinguish between the different category or status of refugees” before.

Dave Brown, Y&H Refugee Integration Manager of the UK’s Yorkshire & Humber Regional Migration Partnership cited three categories of refugees:  Asylum (refugees who have gone through the asylum process in the UK), Resettlement (UN-recognized refugees who need resettlement to ensure their protection), and Family (member(s) of a refugee’s family). Note: Re: Family “Refugee Births – Children born after a refugee is given status to remain. Normally given same status as parents, although if the parent has ILR when the child is born, the child will become a British Citizen.”

The three categories of refugees were further broken down into the services to which they would be entitled under UK law, namely Housing, Health, Education, Employment and Benefits, Travel, Political, Family, Settlement and Citizenship.

Brown said, “Under the single umbrella term of ‘refugee’, there are 43 different ‘types’, with a combination of nine different statuses and eleven different categories. Policies, strategies and services often work to include all ‘types’ of refugee, in an extremely complex policy environment. The legal status of a refugee is important to refugee integration as it determines the period of time a refugee can remain in the UK.”

This is all turning out to be theory, however, not practice.

Current reports from the EU indicate the use of Navy ship inspections of watercraft, the possible creation of an organized EU border guard, even use of military force (in the form of air strikes against ships, boarding ships, putting troops in Libya)- are all options for Europe, which is trying to figure out how to deal with the more than 500 million who have already come.

William Lacy Swing suggested military force would endanger the lives of refugees, but that he believes temporary, humanitarian visas could be issued for economic refugees fleeing abject poverty, which would end the market for the smugglers.

It should be noted that “economic refugees” did not make the cut in the UK’s 2008 report.

Addendum:  On 10/19/15, CSPAN aired a discussion that brought together a six-person panel of D.C. experts on refugee law and integration. What transpired was a “hands up” acknowledgement of what is occurring in the EU and Middle East- a global crisis that requires “creativity,” they say.

We disagree. We think an international commitment to the war against extremism, and an enforcement of existing laws, is required.

The EU needs to enhance its processing and acceptance/rejection of refugees, with clear, internationally-posted terms. Not with an “all-welcome mat.” First, “emigration,” alone, is not a civil right, anywhere in the world. Second, it’s a dangerous world, especially in the mid-East, and requires such due diligence.

German representatives in the CSPAN audience said they’re facing refugees, who are refusing to submit to fingerprinting, and who are identifying as Syrian, regardless of their nation of origin.

Most EU countries are reaching their maximum capacity to hold-and-process people, while countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey fuel Syrian aggressions. And, you’re crazy, if you think Vladimir Putin is going to accept Syrian refugees anytime soon.

One bipartisan D.C. panel member encouraged more U.S.-EU sharing of “watch listers” and passively highlighted the “domino” effect that the world has failed to address, which is that the unrest in Syria and the mid-East is the real source of the exodus and which is what needs to be curtailed.

Allegedly, EU member nations sign an agreement upon entry to denounce xenophobia- akin to U.S. laws that prohibit discrimination of people on the basis of race, religion and country of origin, when it comes to legitimate refugees seeking asylum in a foreign, sovereign nation.

Xenophobia (a.k.a. nativism, a.k.a. “not in my backyard”) is a natural human response to the unknown impact of an influx of unassimilated outsiders (not necessarily indicative of racism), rooted in a fear that native resources and quality of life will be exhausted and changed. Not to mention the national security implications of being unable to thoroughly vet such an enormous influx of people.

No matter how you spin it- there will be no end to mass migration, without global enforcement of asylum laws and an effort to oust the forces responsible for it.


1 ‘Travel Agents of Death’ Earn Billions Off Migrants, Organization Says. Renee Montagne, NPR host. (October 8, 2015)

2 Status and Category Matter: Refugee types, entitlements and integration support. Dave Brown. Yorkshire and Humber Regional Migration Partnership. (January 2008)


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